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View Full Version : James Blake, Martina Higgins in Sports Illustrated


armand
05-26-2006, 09:40 AM
On his big love besides tennis
Other than girls? Probably poker. I got hooked on it when I did celebrity Poker Shodown [on Bravo, in 2004] with Maura Tierney from ER and John Favreau. One of my friends taught me some things beforehand so I wouldnít embarrass myself on TV, and Iíve been playing ever since. I have done pretty well with it. I donít play really high limits, but Iíve made pretty good money.

On all the camera time his then girlfriend, model Jennifer Scholle, got during last yearís U.S. Open
That was pretty funny. I heard [PTIís] Tony Kornheiser took a liking to her. We started dating two months before the Open.
When I first met her, she had no idea who I was. Later I was like, "You should come to the U.S. Open;' but neither of us had any idea it would be a big deal, with newspapers writing about us and her parents being on TV. It was great that everyone thought she was beautiful, but there were websites that were trashing her. We couldn't believe it. It was trial by fire. We laughed that she was getting more famous than me.

On being unbeaten (2-0) against world No.2 Rafael Nadal It just happens that my game is matched well with his. I've also played some of the best tennis of my career when I have played him; he kind of forces me to do that.

On playing a five-set match In the heat it's pretty rough. That next day is exhausting, and you spend the whole time trying to rest 1U1d rehydrate yourself. You start out every match feeling like it's a sprint-you waIit to get out and get everything done as quickly as possible and win. But by the end of a five setter you feel as if you have nm a marathon.

On his prematch ritual
The main thing is having five or 10 minutes on my own with my iPod, sitting in a comer or walking around the locker room and really thinking about the match ahead and not talking to anyone else. I used. to always listen to rap and hard-core stuff like Metallica to get me fired up. Now, the stuff I listen to is to calm me down: Gavin DeGraw or John Mayer or Dave Matthews.
On not being the hothead on the ourt that he was early in his career Iostly it was growing up and realizing that . t's not live or die whether you win a match. I mean it is in that moment, and I try to win each point. But if I don't, I just try to fix it. I don't get all crazy like I used to; I
just worry about what I can do on the next point I try not to whine and crywhen you act like that no one likes you and they won't root for you.
-As told to Elizabeth Newman

armand
05-26-2006, 09:41 AM
Roaring back from a premature retirement, Martina Hingis is not only winning matches but also winning over fans as never before. After taking the title in Rome, she's gunning for the one major that has eluded her, the French Open
BY L. JON WERTHEIM

WELL, IT S 0 U N D E D good in theory, anyway. There she was, retired at 22 years old, with tens of millions of euros in the bank. She would ski at St. Moritz by day and go out with the boys at night. She would ride horses at her estate in Switzerland and maybe take up golf at her other residence, outside Tampa. She'd nourish her mind by auditing some courses. Apart from minor television appearances and sponsor obligations, she would wake up most mornings free to do whatever she pleased. ~ But Martina Hingis quickly realiz~d that life in repose isn't all it's cracked up to be. In fact, like so many retirees from Palm Beach to Palm Springs, she had to confront the reality that work is often less about what we do than about who we are. And in its absence, our identities can get lost. All the more so for someone blessed-which is to say, cursed-with one-in-a-billion skills at her job. A few months after quitting tennis in 2003 (no severance package included), Hingis was bereft. "I wouldn't say that I was unhappy;' she asserts, "but it was hard to do things and know that I would never be the best. Not the best skier or the best show jumper or the best commentator. When you've been the best at something, it's a vel}' addicting feeling:' ~ Hingis was once, of course, the best at hitting a tennis ball. Well, not hitting but rather maneuvering it across a net with such precision that each ball seemed to have its own GPS. When she dusted off her rackets, the magic was still there. "I was afraid tennis might have left me, but it was there for me;' she says. "People come and go, but this"-she motions to a racket-"is not like other relationships. I realized the rackets and the balls were always going to be there for me. I could leave tennis, but it wouldn't leave me. It's what I do. So I came back."

Unlike so many other unretired athletes, Hingis didn't conceive of her comeback as a novelty act; to her credit she reentered the labor force as a full-time worker. So it was that on May 15 she was up early and slugging away on a practice court on the outskirts of Rome, preparing to play in the Italian Open, her nth tournament of 2006. She had already done some weight training that morning. Mindful of her diet, she ate a salad and a small portion of pasta for lunch. She sought a scouting report on her next opponent. "Would I rather be home with the day to myself?" she asks, anticipating a reporter's question much as she does an opponent's shot. "Some days, maybe. But overall, no. No way."

Even before Hingis won the event on Sunday, for her first title since 2002, her second act had drawn rave reviews around the globe. She reached the quarterfinals in January's Australian Open before falling to Kim Clijsters, the second-seeded player, in three tight sets. But the real measure of her success is what has happened since. Playing on four continents, she has held up physically and emotionally, as she has beaten a slew of top opponents-and also absorbed some dispiriting losses. Having started the year ranked No. 999, she's ascended to No. 14, just below the ranking (10) she held when she left the sport, driven out by a pair of bum feet and, just as important, a psyche shattered by a string of demoralizing defeats. When Martina Navratilova claims that Hingis's return has been the biggest story so far this year on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour, it's hard to argue.

The next stop on the Hingis Comeback Tour is the French Open, which begins on Sunday at Roland Garros. Hingis is the anti-Bogart, or perhaps the anti-Bergman:
She never had Paris. It's the only major that eluded Hingis when she ruled tennis's roost for most of the late '90s, and it was the site of her memorable meltdown against Steffi Graf in the 1999 final. But if the men's field seems preordained to serve up yet another final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal-arguably the most compelling rivalry in sports right now-the women's draw is wide open. On the red clay, which neutralizes brawn and rewards brain, Hingis is on the short list of contenders. "Martina has a real chance because I don't think anyone's yet figured out how to play her;' says former world No.1 Tracy Austin. "She has so much diversity, no one else is used to it."

As ever, Hingis's game is predicated on her advanced tennis cortex. In an era of mindless ball-bashing, her unerring tactics and sixth sense for tempo serve her particularly well. ''A lot of the girls are big and strong, but they don't know how to move;' Hingis says. "You hit two different shots-a slice and then topspin-or you come into the net, and they lose their timing." Plus, she remains one of the few players who can go four or five games without missing a ball. "I don't think there's anyone on tour who hits the ball as cleanly as she does;' says Clijsters. "Even in those three years she was off, she never lost it. That's just the pure talent she has."

At the same time, Hingis has adapted to the game's evolution, amping up her strokes and making a concerted effort to dictate play. Earlier this year in Tokyo she was blasted into submission by Russia's Elena Dementieva. They met again on May 11 in Berlin, and this time Hingis stood inside the baseline and traded fire. She won handily. "It's not my personality to be aggressive, but I know that I need to attack;' she says. "It's good not to be shot down. That's satisfying."

What's also been satisfying is the reception she's received. In her prime-the 209 weeks she was ranked No.1, from 1997 to 2001-Hingis cleaved public opinion with her often blunt comments. What was refreshing candor to some was brash impertinence to others. (It didn't help that, though Hingis speaks four languages, the meaning of her remarks was sometimes lost in translation.) Regardless, she is now beloved, siphoning the fans' affections from younger and higher-ranked colleagues: In February in Dubai, Hingis couldn't suppress a grin when, in a match against Maria Sharapova, the WfA's current It Girl, the crowd chanted, CCMar-tee-Tlil!" That horrible day in Paris seven years ago, when Hingis was No.1 and the whole stadium was pulling for Graf? "I understand it now;' she says, smiling.

Beyond the sentimental story line, she has done her part to cultivate goodwill. Removed from that sensory-deprivation chamber known as the teenage years, Hingis, now 25, thinks about what she says, catching herself, for instance, as she characterizes the wave of Russian players as "robotic" and changing her description to the more benign "mechanical." Asked about the irony that her former rivals, Venus and Serena Williams, are neglecting tennis at the same time she has decided to wring every last drop from the sport, Hingis doesn't bite. "Maybe I'm behaving better;' she says proudly, "but a lot of it is just realizing things as you grow older. I mean, at 17you just go, not looking right or left."

For now Hingis is still enjoying the process of playing full time again. Last week in Rome she performed her microsurgery while wearing a smile that didn't desert her for the whole tournament. She showed off her new power, routinely serving at more than 100 mph. She sliced and diced and whimsically broke up rallies with shots that somersaulted the net with topspin. She hit drop shots with such delicacy that her racket might as well have been strung with yarn. The weather was gorgeous. The fans appreciated the show, applauding over the sounds of zipping Vespas on the hill above the court. One early opponent was even afflicted by a sort of tennis Stockholm syndrome, remarking that if she was going to be tormented 6-0, 6-1, she was glad it was at the hands of a "genius" like Hingis.

Late during one match, as Hingis sat for a changeover, a ball boy began to unfurl an umbrella over her to shade her from the sun-one of those quaint rituals that make tennis at once so endearing and so easy to mock. Hingis smiled and gently waved him off. She didn't need to be sheltered from the elements. She's an adult now and in the throes of a second career. She can handle the heat just fine by herself, thanks.

BreakPoint
05-26-2006, 10:17 PM
On all the camera time his then girlfriend, model Jennifer Scholle, got during last yearís U.S. Open
That was pretty funny. I heard [PTIís] Tony Kornheiser took a liking to her. We started dating two months before the Open.
When I first met her, she had no idea who I was. Later I was like, "You should come to the U.S. Open;' but neither of us had any idea it would be a big deal, with newspapers writing about us and her parents being on TV. It was great that everyone thought she was beautiful, but there were websites that were trashing her. We couldn't believe it. It was trial by fire. We laughed that she was getting more famous than me.


Ha ha ha.....I wonder if he's referring to this message board? Must be!!! ;)

superman1
05-26-2006, 11:07 PM
Martina Higgins...haha.

35ft6
05-27-2006, 02:30 AM
Yeah, she didn't know who he was.

vkartikv
05-27-2006, 05:11 AM
What is it with all these models and them saying 'I didn't even know who you were before we met!!'?????? Come on, Brigitte Wilson said the same thing about Pete and you gotta wonder whether too much beauty means no brains! May be that's a no-brainer...

Sennin
05-27-2006, 07:24 AM
I wasn't sure who Martina Higgins was, so I did a little Google reconnaissance...

http://chronicle.augusta.com/images/headlines/051105/47853_512.jpg

So she doesn't LOOK like a tennis player... but looks can be deceiving I guess :D