Twice as nice
Hingis, Kournikova team up again for doubles titlePosted: Thursday January 24, 2002 11:28 PM
Updated: Friday January 25, 2002 3:13 AM
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) -- The last time Martina Hingis won the Australian Open doubles final, she went on to win the singles championship the next day.
That was in 1999, and Hingis teamed up with the same partner, Anna Kournikova, again Friday to beat Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario and Daniela Hantuchova, 6-2, 6-7 (4), 6-1.
In the singles final Saturday, Hingis faces world No. 1 Jennifer Capriati, who beat her in the 2001 final to cap a comeback from personal turmoil and years away from the tour.
"It's positive energy," Hingis said after the doubles win.
The doubles final this year was also a comeback of sorts for the eighth-seeded partnership of Hingis and Kournikova, who split in 2000 and were both hindered by injuries last year.
The two appeared close, chatting animatedly on changeovers and murmuring strategy between points. Last year, the pair practiced doubles for a week with the help of Hingis' mother, Melanie Molitor, in Switzerland.
However, the gulf between their games is evident. Hingis, a five-time Grand Slam singles winner, used quick hands to intercept and put away balls at the net.
Kournikova, who has not won a singles title, hit frequent errors on her volleys and was reluctant to come to net on her serve. But she hit some big forehands from the baseline.
"Throughout the whole match, we were always up and up and winning, and we just couldn't close it out," said Hingis, who received a code violation for racket abuse when her serve was broken in the second set.
Sanchez-Vicario, a 30-year-old veteran of the tour and winner of three Australian Open doubles titles, was playing for the first time with Hantuchova, a talented newcomer. They were seeded 13.
Hantuchova, 18, hit winners all around the court, but her game was erratic at times. Hingis said the Slovakian needed to learn more about "positioning and the doubles thinking."
Seeded 32 in the singles, Hantuchova lost to Venus Williams in three sets in the third round. At 5-foot-11, Hantuchova is one of the tallest players on the tour.
"She needs a little experience," Hingis said. "She is definitely a prodigy. She has a great future ahead of her, if she takes advantage of it."
Hantuchova said it was a "great honor" to play with Sanchez-Vicario, a Spaniard who has won 14 Grand Slam titles: four singles, six doubles and four mixed doubles.
"There are so many things I can learn from her," said Hantuchova, who was scheduled to play a mixed doubles semifinal Saturday with partner Kevin Ullyett of Zimbabwe.