Martina Hingis has accomplished a lot as a tennis player.
She has set records as the youngest ever grand slam champion and world number one in a stellar career in which she won five singles grand slam titles, including three Australian Opens, and spent 209 weeks on top of the world rankings. Until tonight though, she had never won a match in Tasmania.
Hingis rectified that, overcoming the world’s no. 1 junior Belinda Bencic 3-6 6-1 10-6 in an entertaining exhibition match on centre court at the Domain Tennis Centre to conclude day one of the 2014 Hobart International.
Hingis said she loved being able to play in exhibitions and entertain crowds.
“After all the hard work you spent on your career, this is the fun part of tennis that you can go out there and play exhibitions,” Hingis said. “I got to come here for the first time and I’m going to Adelaide and Melbourne playing exhibitions, that is the beauty of it.”
Hingis had nothing but praise for 16 year-old Bencic, who is coached by Hingis’ mother. The two often practice together and know each other very well.
“I hope we will see much more of her,” Hingis said.
Bencic, who will now set her sights on Australian Open qualifying, relished the opportunity.
“It was a new experience for me and I think it was pretty fun,” Bencic said. “We played some good rallies and the crowd were happy.”
Tasmanian tennis fans had never had the opportunity to see Martina Hingis compete in their state and they were not left disappointed.
The entertaining exhibition resonated with the crowd who braved a cool Hobart evening to watch.
Peter Griffin of Delarine is a tennis fan who had never had the opportunity to see Hingis play live before tonight’s exhibition match.
“I really enjoyed it. It was a great opportunity to see a former world number one play and someone whose style of tennis I always enjoyed watching. When she played it was before the big power game. You don’t see her game with great volleying and touch anymore,” Griffin said. “The chance to see the world’s best junior player in this stage of her career was also great. It really was the ideal exhibition match.”
Kirsten Hill of Launceston had seen Hingis play once before at Wimbledon but enjoyed the chance to see her again.
“It’s been great and quite inspiring for Kathryn,” she said.
Kathryn is her nine year-old daughter who received Hobart International tickets as a Christmas present. Kathryn, a keen MLC Tennis Hot Shots player, even got to have a quick hit with Hingis during yesterday’s Kids Tennis Day.
“That was fun,” Kathryn said.