SYDNEY, Australia -- Martina Hingis tried to put a positive
spin on her first-round loss to Justine Henin-Hardenne in the
"I chose to come to know where I'm at," Hingis said Monday
after Henin-Hardenne overpowered her in a 6-3, 6-3 victory.
"I know what I'm aiming for now. ... It's good to know how I
played, how the match went. She was at a different level today."
The 25-year-old Hingis, a five-time Grand Slam singles winner
making a comeback after sitting out three years because of foot,
heel and ankle problems, won three matches last week in the Gold
Coast event in her first full tournament back.
But this was her first match against a top-10 player -- and it
Hingis was broken in her opening service game and generally
struggled with the pace as Henin-Hardenne attacked the slower
Hingis, a three-time winner in Sydney and also a three-time
Australian Open champion, said she could compete with most players,
"but if you want to play someone like Justine, a top-10 player,
it's a different ballgame."
Henin-Hardenne, who finished last season ranked No. 6, broke
Hingis' serve three times in the first set and once in the second,
when she won eight straight points to take a 4-2 lead. Hingis
rarely ventured to the net, but the Swiss star showed glimpses of
her old form with seven winning groundstrokes.
Henin-Hardenne, the French Open champion, was playing her first
match since recovering from a hamstring injury that sidelined her
"I was very focussed on me," said Henin-Hardenne, the 2004
tournament champion. "The key point was to deal with the special
situation -- the comeback for Martina -- it's been a very special
atmosphere. I was focused on what I had to do."
Henin-Hardenne said Hingis was in reasonable form given her time
away from the game, but didn't want to judge her performance.
"I think the level she has right now is pretty good because she
doesn't have a lot of matches," Henin-Hardenne said. "For sure,
the game improved a lot in the last three years, so we'll see."
On the men's side, top-seeded Lleyton Hewitt rallied for a 2-6,
7-5, 6-3 win over American qualifier Vincent Spadea.
Hewitt, who dropped serve on the third and seventh games of the
first set and had 10 double-faults in all, complained of a stomach
ailment and said it almost forced him to retire in the first set.
Hewitt, chasing his fifth Sydney International title, is playing
in his first tournament since his daughter, Mia, was born last
month, but said that was no distraction.
Also Monday, China's Li Na advanced with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over
Italy's Flavia Pennetta, the player who beat Hingis in the
semifinals of the Gold Coast event; seventh-seeded Francesca
Schiavone of Italy routed Japan's Ai Sugiyama 6-1, 6-2; Daniela
Hantuchova of Slovakia had a 6-4, 2-6, 6-2 win over India's Sania
Mirza; and Russia's Dinara Safina ousted German Anna-Lena
Groenefeld 6-2, 6-1.
In men's play, Australian wild-card entry Chris Guccione upset
Juan Carlos Ferrero 4-6, 6-3, 7-5, his second first-round win over
the former top-ranked Spaniard in the event in three years.
"I was a bit more relaxed this time," Guccione said. "Two
years ago, I was probably ranked 400-500 and I'm ranked 150 this
year. I'm sort of getting around these guys a lot more now, getting
a few wins under my belt."
Also, eighth-seeded James Blake beat Davide Sanguinetti 7-6 (4),
6-4; Ivo Karlovic of Croatia defeated Victor Hanescu 7-6 (7), 3-6,
6-3; Austria's Jurgen Melzer beat Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela
6-2, 7-6 (1); and Argentina's Agustin Calleri edged Frace's
Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4, 6-3.