Hingis’s priority is to stay world’s number one player

TOKYO, Reuters

Martina Hingis’s priority is to remain the world’s top woman tennis player rather than win grand slam titles.

“I would definitely rather stay number one. I won grand slam tournaments before and I hope I will win some in the future,” said Hingis, who was beaten by American Lindsay Davenport in the Pan Pacific final here on Sunday.

Asked what it meant to be at the top of the rankings, Hingis said: “To know that you’re the best player out there and that you can beat anybody.

“That is what I proved now and in the past and no one is as consistent as me.”

Hingis has held the number one spot for 174 weeks since she first climbed to the top of the rankings in March 1997.

Although she has not won a grand slam for two years, Hingis said her run to the recent Australian Open final was marked by some of the best tennis she has ever played.

Even though she lost the final to Jennifer Capriati, the Swiss player beat Davenport in a warm-up event and, at the Open itself, she beat both Williams sisters, Venus and Serena, in the same tournament for the first time.

Other than Hingis, the only player to spend a significant amount of time in the number one slot has been Davenport, who has held the top ranking for 28 weeks since October 1998.

“It was an incredible feeling to get to one in the world,” Davenport said, but overtaking Hingis in the rankings is not her priority.

“I never set a lot of goals for myself, like I want to be ranked this number,” the tall Californian said.

“My goal is to play aggressive tennis and hope to win a lot of tournaments along the way,” Davenport said, adding: “I’m going to try and get back there (to number one) as best I can.”

When there has been a title on the line in matches between the pair, Davenport has beaten Hingis 10 times but the Swiss has won three of the last five.

When the new world rankings are released on Monday, Hingis will still have a commanding lead over Davenport.

But the gap will have narrowed, and the 2001 season offers the prospect of an intriguing tussle between the great rivals.