© Ella Ling

Miami 2012 - Maria Sharapova

Martina Hingis column: Maria's still just as hungry

   

Martina Hingis, a former world No 1 and Wimbledon champion, writes for The Tennis Space: 
 
I first met Maria Sharapova when she was 12, and even then she was a fighter – she was a little blonde girl, but she was a real fighter. She was hungry then, and she’s still just as hungry now at the age of 25. And there’s nothing more important in women’s tennis than desire.
 
When she was out for all those months – after the operation to her shoulder in 2008 – she would have realised how much more she wanted to achieve in tennis. That happens when you’re out of the sport for a while, you get the desire back. Without that desire, Maria would never have returned to No 1 in the rankings, and she would not be one of the favourites for this summer’s Wimbledon.
 
I think you could say that Maria is not the most talented player of her generation, but she has always got the most out of herself. Yes, she is tall and has great reach, and is a good ball-striker, but her greatest attribute has always been that she has dedicated herself to her tennis, and done everything she can to be the best player she can be.

The first time I saw Maria was when I was practising at the Nick Bollettieri Academy in Florida, and I was impressed by her attitude, and how aggressive she was on the court. It was certainly no accident that she was a Wimbledon champion at 17. She had no fear back then, just as I didn’t have any fear when I won Wimbledon at 16; you don’t think too much and you’re not scared of losing. Without a doubt, Maria has improved in the eight years since she won the Wimbledon title. There was a lot of hype around then, but she’s a better player now. Maria has matured and gained experience and her forehand – which used to be a little fragile – is a much stronger shot.
 
It’s great to see her back at the top of the sport. I noticed that, in her speech after winning the French Open, which gave her a career grand slam, she made a point of thanking her physical trainer, as she knows how important it is to be healthy again.
 

 
I believe that Laura Robson has the potential to be a top-10 player. She could be very annoying for Francesca Schiavone, a former French Open champion, in their first-round match. I certainly think Laura could win the match, especially as Schiavone hasn’t been having the best year. Laura’s a lefty, has a lot of promise, and she’s playing in own backyard, and she will cause Schiavone a lot of problems. Laura can certainly get as high as the top 20, and after that it’s all about desire, and how much she wants to succeed, so she could reach the top 10. There has been a lot of attention on Laura since she won Junior Wimbledon in 2008 at the age of 14, and she’s been handling everything well. I look out for her results.
 

 
It’s going to be interesting to see how Victoria Azarenka does at Wimbledon. I think she’s going to be eager to do well because it didn’t work out for her at the French Open, a tournament she started as the No 1. I will also be looking at how Serena Williams plays after her first-round defeat in Paris, and watching the defending champion Petra Kvitova. Women’s tennis is very unpredictable at the moment, maybe as unpredictable as it has ever been.
 

 
http://www.tonictennis.com/

   
  • Sunny nine

    Maria is a fighter and will continue to win.  I especially like the war cry that comes with each shot.  She is a consummate professional.

  • JOSH P

     Martina, what are your thoughts on Errani reaching the Roland Garros final? And Sharapova making the final by only facing ONE top 20 player…? Why don’t you return to tennis and try Roland Garros again?  You thrashed Sharapova last time you came back. And you are better than Errani, obviously.

    • Koko

      Sharapova – Hingis: 2:1 (H2H)
      Check the facts. Stop dreaming.
       

      • JOSH P

        As I said, “You thrashed Sharapova last time you came back.” and I was referring to the match immediately after Martina returned to the tour in 2006 when she handed out the beatdown 6-3, 6-1.
        Check the facts:http://www.tennis-x.com/story/2006-02-04/d.phpFebruary 04, 2006
        Hingis Puts Mental Beat-Down on Sharapova

        Former No. 1 Martina Hingis put a mental and physical beat-down on
        teenage former No. 1 Maria Sharapova Saturday in the semifinals at the
        WTA stop in Tokyo, making good on her earlier verbal slights against the
        Russian with a 6-3, 6-1 dismissal in their first-ever meeting.

        “It feels like being back in time,” said Hingis after the match, turning
        on her high-beam smile. “I knew I still had some game in me. You just
        have to start believing. I believe I still can play really good tennis.
        It took me three years to recharge my body and my brain. This week I’ve
        shown a better game than at the Australian Open. I’m improving with
        every tournament.”

        Hingis may have mentally won the match back in January when she told the
        media, “It’s always been, ‘I wonder what she’s got, Sharapova?’ Because
        I don’t see that she’s got something that special. Her serve is great,
        her groundstrokes, but I can’t tell until I play her what makes her so
        exceptional.”

        Hingis’ maligned second serve held up during the match, with the Swiss
        winning 11 of 15 points, and her strategy to move the at-times-gawky
        Sharapova from corner to corner paid dividends. Hingis even ended the
        first set on her beefed-up serve with an ace.

        “It was very competitive in the first set,” Hingis said. “I think we
        were both feeling each other out, seeing how each other played, and what
        shots we chose to make. I was lucky to break her in the eighth game and
        I hit an ace to take the set. I was very happy about that and I think
        that gave me a lot of confidence to go on to win the match.”

        The second set was a rout and Sharapova even resorted to delaying
        tactics, turning her back when Hingis was about to serve, but nothing
        could stop the Swiss juggernaut.

        “When I look back, there were chances I could have taken and didn’t,”
        Sharapova said, deflecting the loss by saying she wasn’t that into the
        match, losing the mental battle. “In the second set especially, I didn’t
        have my usual fight to the end. It wasn’t any particular point, but a
        little here and there made a big difference.”

        In the final the unseeded Hingis will face No. 2 seed Elena Dementieva,
        who won the battle of Russian friends with a marathon 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win
        over No. 4 seed Anastasia Myskina.

        “I felt like it was a very close match,” said Dementieva, who broke
        serve midway through the final set and ran out the win. “We know each
        other very well and it was just a question of a couple of points who was
        going to be the winner today.”

        Dementieva will compete for her first Tier I title on the WTA Tour, with her four career victories all at the Tier II level.

        “I’m really looking forward to playing Martina tomorrow,” Dementieva
        said, with the Russian winning two of her four career meetings with
        Hingis before the Swiss retired three years ago. “This is my first final
        in Japan and to play Hingis is an unbelievable opportunity for me. For
        me, she is the No. 1 player in the world. She’s playing better now than
        when she retired three years ago.”

        • Koko

          Only one match is important (their first match)?
          What about the next two matches against the Swiss juggernaut?

          • JOSH P

            Obviously, because that is the match I was talking about, the most lopsided match of their brief rivalry. Probably one of the few matches of Sharapova’s career where she was hit off the court. Usually she just hits herself off the court. This time she was owned thoroughly and completely by an aggressive opponent.

  • phil caveguy

    Martina, pls comeback to wta tour for just only one more season, pls pls pls…win or lose, i wud really love to see you in court playing competitive tennis again.

  • Zonk

    From a content standpoint, nothing to exciting Martina.  From a grammatical standpoint, it needs some work.  Sorry but as a teacher and journalist that’s what I always tell the kids.  There’s always room to improve, including myself.  I know English isn’t your first language, ( I think) so there’s always going to be errors.  If you’d like me to edit your next effort, send it my way.  Just a fan of tennis who cares.  My daughter, Haley, also plays; maybe one day she’ll excel as well as you did.  Steve 

  • June

    I agree in each  word. Maria has worked so hard for this, and maybe yes, she don’t has the most beautiful game, but she has a great tennis and i, like a fan, love it. So yes, Maria is hungry, and i hope she will be for many years. By the way, i love you too Martina. I like tennis because of you, so thank you for that ;).

  • Steven765

    I miss Martina so much

    • http://www.facebook.com/jane.danner.37 Jane Danner

      Word. I was in my mid-teens in the late ’90s so I grew up watching Martina play. I was an athlete back then myself, but I was a sprinter. I knew next to nothing about tennis and I didn’t care. It looked boring. But then I saw Martina and I was captivated by her presence on the court. And she certainly had presence. She made tennis fun to watch. Nowadays, female tennis players just stand there like pillars of salt, Martina would always smile during matches. There was something mischievous about her, too.

      I’m a Gemini and she’s a Libra, so we’re both air signs. We’re all about the head, as opposed to the body. I saw that Martina played using her head and I loved her instantly. She’s been my favourite tennis player ever since. In her prime, she was mesmerizing to watch. She had such lightness and elegance about her. Watching her play was like watching ballet or dance. She made tennis look classy after the lumberjack that was Graff.

      Martina was such a smart player. You could always count on her to deliver smart shots. With her, tennis was like chess. I remember commentators at that time always saying how clever her game was. Now we’re back to lumberjacks again (Serena Williams). These days, tennis is a power game. There’s no variation. It’s about who can hit the ball the hardest. If I wanted that, I’d be watching baseball. Players like Serena Williams are in the wrong field. They shouldn’t be playing tennis, they should be chopping wood. I was just watching Williams vs. Sharapova at the London Olympics and I have to say nowadays watching women’s tennis is no fun.

      Anyhow, all the best for you, Martina! Stay awesome.

  • Mashafan

    *likes Martina*

  • Anonymous

    “I think you could say that Maria is not the most talented player of her generation…” Oooohhh. Haha you just gonna love Martina :)

    Martina please come back to the WTA tour! You can still win slams!

  • http://twitter.com/f0x_m Alexsey Kuznetsov

    Martina – is the best! I miss and love you so much!

  • http://twitter.com/___Mademoiselle Y

    More please Martina :)  Could you give your opinions on daily matchs ? X

  • J_maldonado_a

    Martina, i agree with you and congrats for your column. Moreover, i think you must try RG 2013 in singles, and complete your career grand slam… like Sharapova, you must want to achieve this… You have the talent!

  • Gustavo

    “I think you could say that Maria is not the most talented player of her generation…”.”It was certainly no accident that she was a Wimbledon champion at 17. She had no fear back then, just as I didn’t have any fear when I won Wimbledon at 16″.   

    Notice how she’s implying that she’s better than Sharapova? These statements are sooooo Martina, I’m glad she hasn’t lost her arrogance 😀

    • Steven765

      I am afraid that it is true – Martina has more skills than Maria and is able to play with her brain :-) and it is much nicer to watch Martina playing and sadly so annoying to hear all the exagerated screamings from Maria.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jane.danner.37 Jane Danner

    Yeah, I don’t get why some people dislike Martina’s “arrogance”. At least she’s honest. I hate fake modesty. When she was at the top, she was the best and no one could touch her. Plus, she WAS better than Sharapova so she has every right to say that.