If the Australian Open was a prosperous hunting ground for Martina Hingis then she repaid the favour in spades, treating fans to six final appearances, a hat-trick of titles between 1997 and 1999, and a blockbuster championship match in 2002.
Born on 30 September 1980 in Kosice, Slovakia, child tennis prodigy Hingis was named after tennis legend Martina Navratilova. Making her AO debut in 1995, the Swiss Miss became the youngest player to win a round at a Grand Slam. In 1996 aged 15 she reached the quarterfinals and, her apprenticeship served, came back the very next year seeded No.4 and ready to conquer.
Beating Mary Pierce 6-2 6-2 in the final of Australian Open 1997, Hingis didn't drop a set en route to the title, becoming the youngest player in the 20th century (at 16 years, three months and 26 days) to win a major. Hingis returned in 1998 seeded No.1, crushing Conchita Martinez 6-3 6-3 in 86 minutes and earning her place in the history books as the youngest player in the Open era to defend a Slam title.
Aged 18, Hingis dropped one set in securing her triple crown in 1999, celebrating with champagne at Brighton Beach's multi-coloured bathing boxes. While her three-year monopoly of the Open was impressive, Hingis' most memorable match in Melbourne was probably her 2002 final against Jennifer Capriati. The Swiss woman led a set and 4-0, holding four match points before letting Capriati level the match.
Fading in the vicious 52-degree heat the players were given 10 minutes to cool off in ice vests before resuming hostilities. While Hingis took a 2-1 lead in the third, the conditions had taken their toll and she didn't win another game, gallantly conceding 4-6 7-6(7) 6-2. Following a three-year injury break from the game Hingis returned to Melbourne in 2006 and 2007, making the quarterfinals on both occasions. She ended her singles career with an enviable 52-7 win-loss record at Melbourne Park.
Hingis remains on tour as a doubles specialist. She won her fifth Australian Open women’s doubles title (alongside Indian Sania Mirza) in 2016, which marked 19 years since her first and 14 years since she’d last won the title. Her last doubles major was the US Open 2017, which she won partnering Chan Yung-jan. Hingis retired following the WTA year-end championships in Singapore ranked No.1 in doubles.