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Hingis Makes Her Earliest Exit

September 01, 2006|Lisa Dillman | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Martina Hingis suffered her worst defeat since returning to the tour this year, and it couldn't have come at a more inconvenient time, the second round of the U.S. Open.

The air, it seems, has come rushing out of the Hingis comeback.

Virginie Razzano of France, ranked No. 112, defeated the eighth-seeded Hingis of Switzerland, 6-2, 6-4, in 64 minutes Thursday, the biggest women's upset so far.

The Hingis serve was a major weakness against Razzano, who arrived in New York with no momentum, having suffered six consecutive first-round losses. Hingis' first-serve percentage was 58%, and Razzano converted all six of her break-point opportunities.

It was Hingis' worst performance at the Open by a considerable margin. Her earliest exits before Thursday came in the fourth round in 1995, her Open debut, and 2002.

Hingis was still able to make a rueful observation at her own expense, as her interview session coincided with the start of the Andre Agassi-Marcos Baghdatis match.

"Thank God there's not many people here anymore," said Hingis, who had reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open and French Open this year. "It's not only that she played well, but I didn't play good. I think I let her play well, and then she just opened up, lost the fear and played exceptional."

Though Hingis' confidence took a big hit with a third-round loss at Wimbledon, she appeared to rebound by reaching the final in Montreal shortly before the Open. Hingis said she felt flat and tired mentally after a three-set, first-round win over Peng Shuai of China on Wednesday.

"After yesterday, I didn't have much more to give," she said.

Razzano, whose only real lapse came when she let a 5-1 lead dwindle to 5-4 in the second set, was charming in her on-court TV interview, plunging forward in an unfamiliar language, saying: "I play very good tonight, I play my game and I have a big concentration. Sorry for my English."

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