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5 things at Wimbledon: Hingis’ return; Venus plays

June 24, 2014

LONDON (AP) — Martina Hingis is scheduled to make her return to Wimbledon on Wednesday, seven years after a positive test for cocaine during the tournament led to one of her temporary retirements.

The 33-year-old Hingis, a five-time Grand Slam singles champion inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame last year, received a wild-card invitation for women’s doubles from the All England Club. She and Vera Zvonareva are set to play a first-round match against Cara Black and Sania Mirza.

Hingis won doubles titles at Wimbledon in 1996 (with Helena Sukova) and 1998 (with Jana Novatna), and the singles championship in 1997. She last entered the doubles event in 2000; she last played singles at Wimbledon in 2007, when she lost in the third round, then was suspended for two years for failing a drug test. Hingis denied taking the drug but did not appeal the ruling, instead retiring.

She’s been back on tour to play doubles since last season.

Here are five other things to watch at Wimbledon on Wednesday:

VENUS IN ACTION: Venus Williams is a seven-time major champion, including five titles at Wimbledon, but she has exited eight of the past nine Grand Slam tournaments in the first or second round. She’ll try to get to the third round at the All England Club for the first time since 2011 when she faces 41st-ranked Kurumi Nara of Japan on Court 3. Nara has never been past the third round at a major. Williams also will team with younger sister Serena in doubles; they’ve won Wimbledon five times as a pair.

COUPLE OF CHARACTERS: A couple of characters will get together on Court 12 when 12th-seeded Ernests Gulbis takes on 90th-ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky. Who knows what might happen? Gulbis is known for smashing rackets and voicing his opinions — and he beat Roger Federer en route to the French Open semifinals this month. Stakhovsky, meanwhile, surprised everyone by defeating Federer in the second round at Wimbledon in 2013. He’s also the guy who yanked out a cell phone to take a picture of a ball mark at Roland Garros a year ago while pleading his case with a chair umpire.

MURRAY ON COURT 1: After the raucous reception that greeted defending champion Andy Murray at Centre Court on Day 1, he’ll move down the way to Court 1 on Day 3 to face left-hander Blaz Rola, a 23-year-old Slovenian ranked 92nd who won the 2013 NCAA singles championship for Ohio State. Rola’s first-round victory Monday was only the second of his career in a tour-level tournament.

DJOKOVIC VS. STEPANEK: Top-seeded Novak Djokovic is 10-1 head-to-head against 38th-ranked Radek Stepanek of the Czech Republic, whose net-charging style would appear to be built for grass. But Stepanek only once has made it as far as the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 11 previous appearances.

QUICK RETURNS: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France and Sam Querrey of the U.S. will be playing for a third consecutive day when they meet Wednesday, although it’s not as if either expended too much energy Tuesday: Both needed only one game to complete rain-interrupted matches held over from a night earlier. The 14th-seeded Tsonga was a semifinalist at Wimbledon in 2011, and the runner-up at the Australian Open in 2008. Querrey has never been past the fourth round at a major.


Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter at http://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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