By Ian Chadband
ZIELONA GORA, POLAND (Reuters) - Cramps, soreness and the fatigue which comes with playing no major singles match for eight years scuppered Martina Hingis’s push for a romantic comeback victory in the Fed Cup on Sunday.
Yet the 34-year-old was still all smiles after losing a winning position against Urszula Radwanska as her Swiss team mates ended up hailing her as an “inspiration” in their thrilling 3-2 triumph against Poland in the World Group play-off.
The five-times singles grand slam champion reckoned she had enjoyed the “fantastic” team spirit in her first Fed Cup tie for 17 years and confirmed she would love another crack next year with a team elevated to the World Group for the first time since 2004.
Yet she admitted to disappointment after standing on the verge of a wholly unlikely victory after so long away from tour-level combat, as she led world no 114 Radwanska by a set and 5-2.
She just needed that solitary game to seal a 3-1 triumph for Switzerland, following Timea Bacsinszky’s surprise 6-1 6-1 hammering of Agnieszka Radwanska, but cramps, nerves and ring rust took over as she lost the next 13 points.
“I felt like I disappointed because I had it on my racket and wasn't able to close it out. But that’s all I could give and I’m very happy I was allowed this experience to go back to singles,” Hingis said.
Hingis, who had agreed to play singles because of an injury crisis for the Swiss and who also lost to Radwanska’s sister Agnieszka on Saturday, faded fast.
Barely able to move any more at 4-1 down in the final set, she needed seven minutes of medical treatment before courageously battling on and inevitably succumbing 4-6 7-5 6-1.
Hingis, who had originally been selected only for the doubles, then turned coach and cheerleader at courtside watching Bacsinszky and Viktorija Golubic win the tie with a 2-6 6-4 9-7 victory over Agnieszka Radwanska and Alicja Rosolska.
“I nearly got cramp again just jumping up and down,” she joked.
Bacsinszky wrote Hingis a note telling her she had been the team’s inspiration and the woman who had only returned to the Fed Cup to secure her qualification for next year’s Olympics now says she wants to play again. “But in the doubles!” she laughed.
(Editing by Pritha Sarkar)