AUSTRALIAN OPEN Hingis shows she still has it with easy win



The former top-ranked player advanced to the fourth round.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- Martina Hingis beat Iveta Benesova 6-4, 6-1 today, advancing to the fourth round of the Australian Open and flashing the form that carried her to six consecutive finals at Melbourne Park.
Hingis, the former top-ranked player making a comeback after a three-year retirement because of foot and heel problems, was in control most of the way against the 42nd-ranked Benesova.
Third-seeded Amelie Mauresmo was leading Michaella Krajicek 6-2 in the following match when the 17-year-old Dutch player withdrew because of heat stress.
Krajicek, with icebags around her neck, had her temperature and pulse taken by trainers before telling the umpire: "I can't play."
Mauresmo said although the heat policy was enacted during their match, suspending play on outside courts, she had not noticed Krajicek struggling until late in the set.
"She seemed to have trouble with the heat, which I can understand," said Mauresmo, who won the season-ending WTA Championship in November. "It's always strange to finish a match this way."
The roof over Rod Laver Arena was closed before the later men's match between former No. 2-ranked Tommy Haas and Australia's Peter Luczak.
High heat
The weather was hot enough Friday afternoon for organizers to enforce the extreme policy -- meaning suspensions on outside courts -- and wet enough in the evening to postpone five matches.
More of the same was expected today, with new matches on outside courts suspended when temperatures exceeded 95 degrees before 1 p.m. local time (9 p.m. Eastern time Friday).
That was too late for the five third-round matches already underway, which had to continue.
Two Frenchmen advanced in those matches: No. 25 Sebastien Grosjean took almost three hours to upset No. 6 Guillermo Coria 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 and Paul-Henri Mathieu beat Peru's Luis Horna 7-6 (3), 7-6 (7), 6-1.
Virtually every square inch of shade was occupied around Melbourne Park, and people created their own with hundreds of umbrellas.
Earlier matches
In earlier matches, 2004 French Open winner Anastasia Myskina beat Sweden's Sofia Arvidsson 6-3, 6-1. Nicole Vaidisova beat Flavia Pennetta 6-4, 6-2 and will face Mauresmo in the next round.
Playing as a wild card and ranked No. 349, Hingis overwhelmed Benesova with forehand and backhand winners, mixing heavy ground strokes with clever slice and drop shots and even firing three aces.
Hingis won the first of her three consecutive Australian Open titles in 1997. She lost finals from 2000-02 and quit the tour later that season. She returned on the Gold Coast earlier this month.
The 25-year-old Swiss star has lost only 10 games in three matches at Melbourne Park, but that doesn't mean she's been cruising.
"I don't think it was that easy when I was down 3-1 today," she said. "Every match I get out here is a coming back home."
With every win comes expectations for more.
"Coming into this tournament, I was like, 'OK, tough first round, see if I survive that one first,' " she said. "But one by one ... expectations definitely grow. With every match I'm getting more confidence."
Hingis was broken in the fourth game but broke back immediately.
After Benesova held for a 4-3 lead, Hingis won seven straight games before the 22-year-old Czech held again.
Hingis won at love, closing with an ace to lead 5-1. Then she broke again, sealing the match in 66 minutes on Benesova's 27th error.
Hingis' serve has continued to improve during five matches in two lead-up tournaments and three matches at Melbourne Park.
She got 64 percent of her first serves in and won almost 80 percent of those.
Hingis next plays the winner of today's match between Australia's Samantha Stosur and Sybille Bammer of Austria.
Upset
On Friday night, defending champion Serena Williams fended off four match points before 17th-seeded Daniela Hantuchova clinched a 6-1, 7-6 (5) upset in the third round.
It snapped a 16-match Australian Open winning streak for Williams, who won the tournament in 2003 and 2005 after saving match points each time.
It was her earliest departure here since the third round in 1999.
Hantuchova next plays fourth-seeded Maria Sharapova.
Top-seeded Lindsay Davenport and French Open champion Justine Henin-Hardenne advanced, as did No. 2 Andy Roddick and No. 4 David Nalbandian on the men's side.
Williams' loss means there will be no repeat singles champion.
Marat Safin, the 2005 men's winner, didn't make it to Melbourne due to a knee problem.
Roger Federer is the overwhelming favorite in the men's draw, with Roddick emerging as the strongest challenger.
Federer plays Max Mirnyi in the third round today.
Roddick, who said he doesn't mind playing in the even hotter conditions forecast for Sunday, won 17 of the first 18 points against Julien Benneteau in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 third-round rout.
He next faces Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus.
Davenport struggled in the heat with 42 unforced errors in a 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 win over Maria Kirilenko. She next faces 2004 U.S. Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.

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