Vol. 5 Num 558 Wed. December 21, 2005  

Hingis set to return in Jan

Five-time Grand Slam singles champion Martina Hingis will make a return to professional tennis in an Australian hardcourt tournament in early January, opening the way for a place in the Australian Open, it was announced Tuesday. The Swiss former No. 1 will compete in the Mondial Australian Women's Hardcourts on the Gold Coast, where she will be up against Maria Sharapova, from January 1 to 7.

"I'm very excited to be making my return to competitive tennis in Australia, I have always felt at home on the Australian courts," Hingis said in a statement.

"I'm really looking forward to competing again and making my first trip to the Gold Coast.

"I know I'll get some tough matches and it will allow me to get used to the Australian summer coming from the European winter, both of which will be helpful with my preparation for the Australian Open," she added.

Hingis achieved world No. 1 status in March 1997, aged 16, and held the title for 209 non-consecutive weeks until 2001.