Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Never Say Never Again…

hingis_shadow (Photo: The Canadian Press)

"No, no, no, sure," the 29-year-old Swiss told French sports daily L'Equipe when asked whether she planned another comeback.

"You can't just snap your fingers and say 'let's go and play the Australian Open'".

"I've got a nice house, my four horses," Hingis said. "On the tour, I had no life."

Hingis added that even without being tested positive, she likely would have retired.

"If I had won the four Grand Slam tournaments, maybe I would have continued," she said. "But I was on a downslope. And I was suspended for two years, and that was it."

Hingis, who spent 209 weeks at No. 1 in the women's rankings and won five Grand Slam singles titles, said she went through hard times during her suspension.

"I didn't have the right to play any competition, even in another Olympic sport," she said. "I didn't have the right to feature in equestrian competition, even at an amateur level ... I'm not sure I have completely recovered."

-- Martina Hingis rules out a Pre-Safinite led Comeback

You should never say never, and with the summer of comebacks we’ve just experienced, I probably “never” will again.

But did anyone really expect one from Hingis?

After the way in which the ITF comprehensively put paid to the remainder of her career, and the ‘boys will be boys’ treatment afforded to Gasquet, you can understand her bitterness.

She paints a bleak picture of her form over 2007. A little overly-bleak if you ask me.

It’s worth remembering she finished 2006 ranked #7 in the world. She was beset with injuries the following year, and lost some matches you’d normally have expected her to have won, but also picked up a title in Tokyo taking out Ana Ivanovic in the final, who from what I remember was taking the WTA by storm, and just three months away from her first Slam final.

With the tour in 2008, let’s say, lacking the ‘soul’ of previous years, I just wonder what might have been had she only received a cursory ban (months rather than years); might she, for example, have found it easier to bounce back and re-establish herself in the top ten in the absence of Sharapova and Henin?

That said, there’s something distinctly unsettling in watching a former great being unwilling to retire gracefully. Deciding to play in Melbourne isn’t something you do at the drop of a hat, and Martina certainly doesn’t strike me as the type to risk being exposed to the sort of ridicule a poor showing there would entail.

Interestingly though, it is only the Aussie Open that she’s strictly ruled out. Or so it would appear.

I’d like to know the odds of a Henin-like ‘personal journey’ over the next year.

No, seriously.

Never Say Never Again.

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