Excuse the Daily Mirror style headline, I couldn’t resist after reading this snippet on the ATP website:
Asked (on Monday) if he would initiate a call with Hingis (regarding pairing up for Olympic mixed doubles in London), Federer said, “I don’t think I need to win her over.”
See! Sizzling stuff! Unfortunately, my tabloid sensibilities were dampened when I read the rest of what turned out to be a typically reasonable analysis by the Swiss Mister:
“She’s a champion herself. She’s in retirement, not me, so she needs to do all the hard work. I’ve been on the tour playing and ready to go basically. So she has the whole thing to go through. Because what I’m hearing, she just doesn’t want to come back for a week of doubles, which I understand that. There is much more to it. At the end of the day, that’s her decision.”
After being pressed on the issue, Federer added, ‘I will talk to her.”
The Olympics-obsessed Fed is likely hoping to rekindle the on-court chemistry that led Hingis and him to 2001 Hopman Cup glory. (When he paired up with Mirka the next year, the lovebirds finished second to last in their group.)
The Olympics rumors actually started with Hingis, who revealed at a World Team Tennis event in July that she’d been approached by the Federer camp about the pairing. Interview via The Daily Forehand:
TDF: I was wondering–they’re having mixed doubles at the Olympics next year, and someone who has had success in doubles in the Olympics is your countryman, Roger Federer…
Martina Hingis: (more nervous laughter)
TDF: Would you play in the Olympics with him, if he asked?
Martina Hingis: You’re tricky, right? (Laughs) Well…he kind of was like, through the angles, he already, like, you know tried, a little bit? But I don’t know…
TDF: He already tried to ask you?
Martina Hingis: Well…I don’t know? Not him, personally, but…I mean, they asked that question…We’re still a long way away, so…
TDF: But you’re not saying no, you’re open to it?
Martina Hingis: I don’t know, I don’t know…I’m not sure, because you have to really commit. And I feel great right now, but, you know, it’s still a long way to go, it’s another year.
TDF: So just to be clear, someone from his team did ask you?
Martina Hingis: Yeah, they did. But who knows…I mean, I would have to play some doubles before, or some mixed….who knows?
When asked about her comments during an exhibition in San Diego, she continued to be coy:
“I’m not really thinking about it at all,” Hingis said. “The invitation has been blown a bit out of proportion. I may be retired but the competitive instinct is still there.
“My life is pretty comfortable now and I’m really enjoying it.”
Remember, this is a woman who was engaged at least twice before finally tying the knot. The strategically-minded Swiss takes playing hard-to-get to the extreme and it sounds like Roger’s ready to woo:
“If I played mixed with anybody it would be with Hingis just because she’s been an amazing player and I had my first kind of success at the Hopman Cup with her and practised and played with her before. Even if she is retired, she might think about it at least. I’ve approached her already a long time ago, and I guess she just mentioned something to the press and it took a life of its own.
“But I haven’t spoken to her myself yet. We’ll see where it goes. I know it’s a lot on your plate to play singles, doubles, and mixed. I need to decide if I want to do that in the first place, and then see if she will come out of retirement. Still have a lot of things to go through, but haven’t spoken yet. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Roger’s praise is absolute music to Hingis’s ears, I’m sure! I hope he knows what he’s getting into. Don’t want our guy left heartbroken at the Opening Ceremonies, a scene Fed fans prefer to associate with the beginnings of his and Mirka’s love affair (Sydney, 2000).
Personally, I think Hingis will put an (Olympic) ring on it. Both her ego and game are big enough and she has to relish this last, best chance at capturing some real sporting glory (sorry, World Team Tennis.) Like me, she must be imagining the two of them leading the Swiss contingent into Olympic stadium as co-flag bearers. And whether they medal or not, playing on Wimbledon’s Centre Court for her country and with Roger Federer would be the perfect high-note ending for a player who, in my and many other peoples’ opinions, was forced out of the game in shocking and undeserved way.