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U.S. OPEN NOTES

Hingis Doesn't Get Usual No. 1 Questions

August 29, 2000|JERRY CROWE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — She is the top-ranked player in women's tennis, a favorite to reach the final in any tournament, but Martina Hingis has put herself in the unusual position of having to defend herself, simply because she has not won a Grand Slam singles title in the last 20 months.

On Monday, after a 6-3, 6-1 victory over Alina Jidkova of Russia in the opening round of the U.S. Open, Hingis was even asked if she would consider using a dietary supplement such as creatine to bulk herself up to compete against bigger and more powerful players such as Lindsay Davenport and Venus and Serena Williams.

"No," she said. "I don't want to die before I'm 30. I mean, you see different things written about people dying early because of heart problems and so forth. I'm scared of that stuff, so I don't.

"My life is too nice right now [to] start taking something else to bulk myself up to be bigger. It's not worth it to me."

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While Venus Williams was extending her winning streak to 20 consecutive matches with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Anne-Gaelle Sidot of France, Pete Sampras was asked in the interview room about Williams' powerful but erratic serve.

"I don't think she knows where it's going, to be honest," he said. "This is like Tiger Woods answering something about Karrie Webb. Her serve? She's a tall girl with a big racket [and she] throws it up and hits it hard."

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Marissa Irvin of Santa Monica defeated Rita Kuti Kis of Hungary, 6-4, 6-7 (11), 7-5, for her first Grand Slam victory as a professional.

Irvin, who helped Stanford win the NCAA championship as a freshman last year, turned pro this summer after her sophomore year and was a first-round loser at Wimbledon in June.

"For tennis, it was the best thing for me and I was playing well," Irvin said of her decision. "I had moved my ranking up to the top 100. I think I took it up 400 spots in less than a year and it didn't really make sense to go back to school to play tennis again.

"I wish there was a way that I could take classes and live up there with my friends and play [professional] tennis too, but . . . "

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