Hingis back in French Open quarters

After a three-year injury hiatus, Martina Hingis is now a title contender of French open playing all the right angles as she advanced to quarter finals.

updated: February 25, 2007 11:34 IST
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After a three-year injury hiatus, Martina Hingis is a title contender of French open as she advanced to quarter finals. Hingis playing all the right angles and flashing that familiar wry smile wrapped up a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 victory over Shahar Peer of Israel in the fourth round. Five years back Hingis was a sobbing, petulant mess while losing in the final of the only major she hasn't won. "It's a new year. New Roland Garros," said Hingis. Now comes a true test for the new Hingis, which is the quarterfinal on Tuesday against number two Kim Clijsters, the reigning US Open champion and twice runner-up at the French Open. Hingis' match against Peer was halted on Sunday after two sets due to fading light, so their best-of-one-set turn on Monday was a tad anticlimactic. The grind of playing on clay hasn't affected Hingis yet. She left the tour in 2002 after a series of injuries and operations to her feet and ankles. On Tuesday she will represent a fifth consecutive day on court for a woman enjoying a renaissance at age 25. "Now I can kind of survive a lot of things. It doesn't matter what's coming up next,'' said the 12th-seeded Hingis, who was ranked number 1 when she was 16. High expectations Eight of her 10 losses this season have been to women who've won majors, including against Clijsters in the Australian Open. But as Hingis pointed out: "I've made a lot of improvements since Australia. Everything pretty much was new. I was happy to win the first round." Expectations are much higher these days, in part because the muscle memory from her five Grand Slam titles is all the way back. She won the Italian Open last month for the first title of her comeback, and was steely as ever against Peer, mixing in four drop shots to end points. "Martina was playing unbelievable today. She I think had very few mistakes," said Peer, who was hoping to become the first Israeli to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal. A championship in Paris might help erase any bitterness left over from 1999, when Hingis lost a rancorous final to Steffi Graf. Hingis was jeered for cracking her racket, for questioning calls, for walking around the net to examine a mark a real faux pas. She was booed for hitting an underhand serve, booed when she lost, and booed some more when, crying uncontrollably, she was escorted by her mother to the trophy presentation. (AP)