Injured Hingis reportedly aims to return to competition before October

Thursday, July 18th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ZURICH, Switzerland (AP) _ Martina Hingis, still recovering from ankle surgery, is training daily and hopes to return to the pro circuit by the end of September, a Swiss newspaper reported Thursday.

The mass-circulation daily Blick said in a report from Hingis' training center in Saddlebrook, Florida, that it was still possible her ankle would heal sooner.

``It remains to be seen whether the injury will be healed by the U.S. Open,'' which starts Aug. 26, Blick said.

Hingis' adviser Mario Widmer reportedly has said she still could enter the tournament at Flushing Meadows, New York, going in as a wild card even though she missed the entry deadline of July 15.

Her ankle remains somewhat swollen, but Hingis is putting in three to four hours of training a day on the tennis court under the watchful eye of her mother and coach, Melanie Molitor, Blick said.

``I have to be a little careful not to put too much stress on it,'' Hingis was quoted as saying.

The court is covered by a soft, rubberized surface to ease the impact on the ankle, but next week she is planning to return to a hard surface, the newspaper said.

Hingis also is biking, roller-blading and swimming.

``Swimming is the perfect balance to tennis for the body, especially in the case of injuries,'' Molitor said.

The ligaments in Hingis' left ankle were operated on in Zurich on May 20, forcing her to miss the French Open _ the first Grand Slam tournament she has skipped since turning pro in 1994. She also missed Wimbledon and is sitting out several buildup tournaments.

Hingis, 21, has won five Grand Slam titles and reached the final of the Australian Open earlier this year, losing to Jennifer Capriati.

After the surgery, Hingis' doctor said she would need 6-to-8 weeks of rest.