October 03, 2011
Five-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis will make a return to Grand Slam competition early next year to play mixed doubles with Roger Federer at the Australian Open, a Melbourne newspaper reports.
According to Leo Schlink of Australia's Herald Times, Hingis has her sights set on earning a mixed doubles berth into next summer's London Olympics, where she and her fellow Swiss could compete for gold on the grass courts of Wimbledon. She is reported to be considering teaming with Federer in Melbourne to start the process.
The 30-year-old Hingis hasn't played a Grand Slam since the 2007 U.S. Open. After winning five majors as a teenager and ascending to No. 1 in the world, she retired from the sport at 22 due to a chronic ankle problem. Hingis returned in 2006 and played for two seasons, winning three tournaments and advancing to three Slam quarterfinals. She retired again in 2007 after revealing she tested positive for cocaine at that year's Wimbledon.
A Hingis return was rumored last year but ended without an official comeback. She played a number of exhibition matches and starred for New York's WorldTeam Tennis team the past two summers. A return in Australia would be her first major competition in four years.
Reports in an Australian newspaper make not for official confirmation though. While Federer is clearly hoping to add to the gold medal he won in men's doubles at the 2008 Olympics, playing mixed doubles in a Grand Slam would seem to go against the idea that he should be playing less matches. He hasn't played doubles at a major since 2004. Is he really going to start up again at 30?
My guess is that Hingis will return in Melbourne but not with Federer. Then, if she is eligible for the Olympics, she'll team with him in a blockbuster mixed pairing.
Eligibility rules for the Olympics are murky. One thing that's clear is that Hingis must accumulate some rankings points to have a chance to play in London. Getting in the year's first Grand Slam would be a good start on the road to the Summer Games.