Hong Kong Open organisers hopeful Martina Hingis will play
Grand slam great 'Swiss Miss' has been approached to play in city's return to WTA in September
Martina Hingis is being chased by organisers of the Hong Kong Tennis Open, hoping the former world number one will provide star power for the city's return to the big time in September.
Hingis, 33, who made a winning comeback in doubles last August after retiring from the WTA Tour in 2007, has been approached to play at the US$250,000 WTA Championship at Victoria Park from September 8-14.
"We have been in contact through her management agency and she is looking at her schedule. Hopefully, she can find some free time from her own commitments, as well as coaching, to return to Hong Kong," said Kenneth Low, managing director of Hong Kong Tennis Open.
"Martina will be a huge draw and it would be great for Hong Kong to have her as a tournament ambassador and also if she can play, whether it is only doubles, to inspire the local juniors."
Hingis, a five-time grand slam singles winner who has played in Hong Kong in the past, returned to competitive tennis last year partnering Daniela Hantuchova to win the Southern California Open. She also coaches German world No 17 Sabine Lisicki.
"We are looking at inviting players who can inspire the future generation in Hong Kong and Martina fits the bill perfectly," Low said.
The biggest hurdle is the tournament's positioning right after the US Open. If Lisicki performs well at that tournament - last year she was runner-up at Wimbledon - and reaches the latter stages, it will prevent Hingis from making a firm commitment.
Organisers faced a similar problem as they tried to woo top-ranked Chinese player Li Na. They have confirmed China No 2 Peng Shuai, who is ranked number one in the world in doubles.
Hong Kong's return to the world of professional tennis after more than a decade features a 32-strong singles draw as well as a smaller doubles competition. There will also be a 32-strong qualifying event for the singles.