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Hingis makes winning return against China's Peng

Written by: Staff

NEW YORK, Aug 31 (Reuters) Former champion Martina Hingis made a winning return to the US Open after a three-year absence with a 4-6 6-1 6-3 win over China's Peng Shuai in the first round.

Hingis, the 1997 champion playing her first Open since 2002, yesterday overcame some nervous moments at the start and made a tactical decision to come to the net and pressure the hard-hitting Peng, who outslugged her in a taxing, 49-minute first set.

''Well I had to do something,'' said eighth-seeded Hingis, who won 22 of 26 points she contested from the net. ''I had to start pushing because I was getting too much into defence because I was hitting too short.

''I had to take my chances and change it.'' Peng, ranked 60th in the world, banged 16 backhand winners in the first set, driving the Swiss former world number one deep beyond the baseline and opening up angles for winners on the Louis Armstrong Stadium court.

PENG TIRES The 20-year-old Chinese, plagued by various injuries this year after climbing to 31st in the rankings in 2005, began to tire, calling out the trainer and taking fluids after the second game of the third set, and Hingis rolled to victory.

The Swiss, making a comeback aged just 25, was energised by her return to New York for the year's final grand slam.

''First of all, the energy of New York itself, it's already great. And then walking on to the stadium, it was amazing. I was nervous in the beginning,'' she said.

The play of Peng, who last year posted victories over three top-10 players, spurred the Swiss player into a higher gear.

''I mean, this can't be happening,'' Hingis said she had told herself during the match.

''After making the quarters and quarters in grand slams (Australian Open and French Open), and then losing third round (Wimbledon). I mean, I would lose here in the first round. I was like, 'no way that's going to happen.''' ''I played very well in the second and third set. I was able to pick it up.

''I outlasted her, basically, today.'' Hingis will next meet France's Virginie Razzano.

Reuters SRS VP0625

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