Sunday, May 21, 2006

She's back!...Hingis wins the Italian Open!

Today in Rome, unseeded Martina Hingis defeated 16th seed Dinara Safina, 6-2, 7-5 to win the 2006 Italian Open. Since she made her comeback from 3 1/2 years of retirement, this is the first tournament Hingis has won, and it is a Tier 1 tournament, making her win even more special.

Safina provided a lot of the drama leading up to today's final. During the week, she swatted the world's top players--Kim Clijsters, Elena Dementieva, Svetlana Kuznetsova--like flies, and put herself into the unlikely spot of being a Tier 1 finalist. Considering what she went through to get to the final, I feel bad for her; a Tier 1 win would be a major step in Safina's career. But I've been waiting for Hingis to win a big one, and I join thousands of fans in being very excited that she was the winner today.

So great is the excitement that Hingis's victory has crashed the official Sony Ericsson WTA Tour site. And that is how it should be.

Hingis served for the match at 5-4, but could not close. Those who saw the match said she was visibly nervous trying to close, and indeed, she did not do so until her fourth match point.

In her Rome semifinal, Hingis defeated Venus Williams, 0-6, 6-3, 6-3. This was a re-match of the Hingis's last Italian Open win, in 1998. She said her terrible start did not keep her from thinking she could win the match. "At least I was still fresh," she said, "that's the upside of losing a set 6-0." She went on to say that she felt like she was putting pressure on Williams, and that "she wasn't killing me."

That is a champion's mentality. Now, if Hingis can find a way to get a champion's serve...

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