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Hingis Urges WTA Stars To Think Positive

Martina Hingis has urged the latest generation of WTA stars to adopt a forward-thinking approach to their game.

Published February 02, 2012 05:46

Hingis Urges WTA Stars To Think Positive
Martina Hingis

A shortage of power has never been a criticism leveled at Victoria Azarenka. But at the Australian Open it was variety, not power, that finally transformed the Belarusian from contender to champion.

Since appointing Sam Sumyk as coach in late 2009, Azarenka has worked on developing a more rounded game, adding guile and touch to an already-impressive arsenal of weapons. And this new approach reaped dividends at Melbourne Park, as the Belarusian won her first major, defeating two of the WTA's best match players, Kim Clijsters and Maria Sharapova, in the process.

One person who would have appreciated Azarenka's more cerebral game is five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis. During her time in tennis, Hingis was as much artisan as athlete, marrying superb court craft with precision timing and ball striking.

The Swiss maestro is now hoping to pass on these skills to the next generation in her role as coaching consultant for the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy on the outskirts of Paris. Her new position - and an invitation to compete in the Australian Open's legends event - saw Hingis travel to Australia last month to oversee the progress of one of the academy's students, eventual girls' singles runner-up Yulia Putintseva.

And while in Melbourne, Hingis took time out of her busy schedule of coaching and competing to talk about what it takes to succeed on the WTA in 2012.

"Now it's about both power and control," Hingis said. "Everything has made progress, the racquets, speed, the balls and the court. It's normal. The sport evolves.

"When I played, I still was able to sneak in few drop shots and angles. It's nice to see girls do it today, but now you just have less time. Back then it was still probably the right point and the right time to do it."

According to Hingis, positive tactics are crucial to flourishing in today's game, a lesson she is keen to impart not just on her protégés at Mouratoglou but also those already on the professional circuit.

"I tried not to let the harder hitters dominate me," she added. "They were stronger than me and it's hard to play three, four players like that in a row. I couldn't come out on top all the time.

"Today you just can't let yourself get pushed back. Not against Sharapova, Clijsters, Serena and players like that. You have to try to move in, step forward and the mentality to try to keep doing it in practice so it becomes automatic. You can't just do to two, three points in a match.

"Maybe even if you lose a match or two sometimes, even against other players, you just have to try to keep doing it against lower-ranked players to be able to eventually do it against the top players."

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