Originally created 08/06/02

Martina Hingis asks for wild-card entry to U.S. Open



NEW YORK -- Her ankle healing faster than expected after surgery, Martina Hingis asked Monday for wild-card entry into the U.S. Open, where she's been seeded No. 1 every year since 1997.

Hingis, who had an operation to repair ligament damage in her left ankle May 20, did not play in the French Open and Wimbledon - the first Grand Slam tournaments she has missed since turning pro in 1994.

Her name was not included on the list of 104 entrants for the U.S. Open, announced last week. She was the 1997 Open champion and has won four other Grand Slam singles titles.

But on Monday, Octagon Management announced that Hingis has entered a pair of Open tuneup tournaments in the next two weeks - the Rogers AT&T Cup at Montreal, Aug. 12-18, and the Pilot Pen event at New Haven, Conn., Aug. 19-25.

She also requested an invitation for the Open, which begins Aug. 26.

"We are very pleased to learn that Martina Hingis is healthy once again and beginning her return to competitive tennis," said Jim Curley, tournament director of the Open.

"We received her official request for a U.S. Open main draw singles wild-card from her management company on Monday morning. The USTA will announce the eight men and eight women who will receive main draw singles wild-card entries in the U.S. Open after our wild card committee meets next week to review all requests."

That meeting is scheduled for Aug. 13.

Wild cards are reserved for players whose rankings do not ordinarily allow them entry into the main draw and are awarded at the discretion of the tournament. In Hingis' case, she did not enter based on doubts about her health but her top-10 ranking would have qualified her for the tournament.

In Zurich, Hingis' manager, Mario Widmer, said Hingis' recovery from the surgery had been faster than anticipated.

"Martina's condition has improved enormously," he said. "It's fairly certain that she will be back in Montreal next week and also ready for New Haven."

However, Widmer said, Hingis' participation in the tournaments was still "not definite."

In January, Hingis reached the Australian Open final, where she lost to Jennifer Capriati.

Hingis' condition, which included pain in her left knee and hip, worsened after that and the surgery on one torn ligament and three loose ones followed. While she was sidelined, the former No. 1 ranked player dropped to No. 8.

Dr. Heinz Buehlmann, who operated on Hingis, said at the time she would need 6-to-8 weeks of rest before resuming tennis.

"This injury is complex," he told the Blick newspaper. "But I think the chances for recovery are good. In about three weeks she will be able to start light water training and careful cycling."

Since returning to training Hingis has been practicing on a soft, rubberized court to ease the impact on the ankle, and also has been biking, roller-blading and swimming.