Switzerland's top tennis players, Martina Hingis and Roger Federer, have ended their season on a low note.This content was published on November 6, 2001 - 12:40
Federer failed to qualify for the Masters in Sydney, while Hingis has lost her number one position in the rankings.
Just two weeks ago, Federer had an outside chance of qualifying for the end of year tournament. After reaching the final of the Basel Indoors competition, the 19-year-old had still to win the Paris Open.
Federer failed to get beyond the second round in the French capital, effectively ending his season with a loss against Czech Jiri Novak. This defeat should not overshadow the Swiss player's progress in 2001.
Federer has cemented his place among the world's top 20 male tennis players with 49 victories this season, and just 21 defeats. This includes three finals played, with his first ATP tour win in Milan in early February.
Savouring Grand Slam
Federer also enjoyed some success in Grand Slam tournaments, reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and the French Open. The All-England Championships saw the Swiss overcome the titleholder, American Pete Sampras, in a five-set thriller.
The other highlight for Federer this year was the Davis Cup, with Switzerland reaching the semi-finals against France after pushing the Americans aside in the quarters.
The wheels fell off the Swiss team's wagon against the French, with infighting between Federer and team captain Jakob Hlasek damaging the group's unity.
The former Swiss number one, Marc Rosset, had a far less successful season. The Genevan did not get beyond the second round of a tournament before the Moscow Open in October, winning just 12 matches this year.
Rosset's ranking has now slipped below 100 on the ATP tour and he is now only third nationally. The 1992 Olympic champion has spoken of retiring, although he has not made any definite decision yet.
Kratochvil's good news
Switzerland's surprise men's performer this year was Michel Kratochvil. The Bernese showed indifferent form until September when he played a series of tournaments in Asia and Europe.
Coming off a series of five first-round losses, Kratochvil suddenly found his feet in Shanghai, reaching the final in the Chinese city. He repeated the performance two weeks later in Tokyo, before losing to the newly crowned US Open champion, Lleyton Hewitt.
Kratochvil rounded off his Asian performances with two quarterfinal appearances in Vienna and Basel. The Swiss number two is now ranked in the top 50 of the ATP tour.
Two other Swiss men won ATP-sponsored events this year. George Bastl dominated an indoor tournament in Helsinki in October, while Ivo Heuberger walked away with the main prize from the competition in Fergana, Uzbekistan.
Hingis slips in rankings
Martina Hingis finished the year down and out. Despite tournament victories in Sydney, Doha and Dubai, she failed to win one of the coveted Grand Slam competitions.
Hingis hasn't won a major title since the 1999 Australian Open, but she held on to her world number one ranking until recently. Resurgent American Jennifer Capriati, winner of the 2001 title in Melbourne and the French Open, took the crown from her temporarily, before Lindsay Davenport ended the season in top place with a string of victories.
Hingis is currently ranked fourth, but she has been out of action for a number of weeks, following an ankle injury at the Filderstadt tournament in Germany.
Basel's Patty Schnyder failed to regain the form she enjoyed in previous years. The former top 10 player reached the final of just one event in Vienna, and the semi-finals of another in Queensland, Australia.
Schnyder hasn't won a tournament since 1999, and missed part of this season due to injury.
Emmanuelle Gagliardi, still trying to win her first WTA tournament, reached the third round at two Grand Slam events in 2001, the Australian Open and Wimbledon. In Melbourne, she scored her first win over a top five player, with an upset against Spain's Conchita Martinez.
Schnyder finishes the year ranked 44th, while Gagliardi holds 70th place.
Some new talent offers hope for the future of Swiss tennis. Marie-Gaïané Mikaelian earned her place in the spotlight with some stunning performances.
The 17-year-old reached the final of the Basel WTA tournament, and the quarters of the Kloten indoor event just two weeks ago, losing to then world number one Capriati. Mikaelian has come from nowhere to reach number 77 in the rankings.
Another star could make an appearance in the men's ranks. Roman Valent won the junior title at Wimbledon this year, and Swiss tennis enthusiasts are hoping he will make a splash when he joins the professionals in 2002.
by Scott Capper
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