by Al Campbell
VANCOUVER, July 31 (Xinhua) -- On the eve of the start of the mixed doubles at the London Olympics, tennis legend Martina Hingis said Tuesday she has no regrets in turning down an offer to team with Wimbledon champion Roger Federer to represent Switzerland at the Games.
"No, it was very flattering when Roger Federer asked me to play at the Olympics, but I mean I haven't played in five years," said the former world No. 1 in Vancouver where she was promoting her Tonic tennis clothing line and playing an exhibition at the Odlum Brown VanOpen.
"All these players who compete today they deserve to be out there and play well and I would have to get back in the grind and train for at least, I guess six months, and play some doubles, play real competitions." The 31-year-old Hingis, who won 15 Grand Slams in singles, doubles and mixed doubles during an illustrious career that saw her debut on the pro circuit at 14, said she decided against playing in the Olympics in December, despite seriously considering the offer.
"He (Federer) asked me last year and we kind of decided not to do it because the schedule was just too crazy and for me having to go back and play for at least like six months, to get back into fitness, and work, and play some tournaments, it's just like too much. I still felt very flattered that he would have even thought about me to do it and play with me. So that was nice."
Hingis, who still plays periodically on the World Team Tennis and Legends of Tennis circuits, said it was great that the mixed doubles was returning to the Olympic roster for the first time since the 1924 Paris Games, but felt the format wouldn't favor the top singles players playing the event.
"It's good every event. But I think it makes it more difficult to the top players who play singles and doubles already, so I think it's really like the doubles and mixed specialists who come out there and play everything. For the singles players it's probably like playing like 16 matches if you do all three (singles, doubles and mixed) in nine days. It's pretty cruel. It's a big schedule."
Of the 16 mixed doubles teams vying for medals, Hingis said she liked the chances of the Indian pairing of Leander Paes and Sania Mirza, Czechs Radek Stepanek and Lucie Hradecka, and top seed Belarus featuring World No. 1 women's player Victoria Azarenka and doubles specialist Max Mirnyi who won the 2007 U.S. Open together.
High profile singles players given wildcards into the mixed doubles include Britain's Andy Murray and Laura Robson, and Australians Lleyton Hewitt and Samantha Stosur. Switzerland isn't fielding a mixed doubles team.
"The girls would be pretty difficult," Hingis said. "There's nobody out there after me and Patty (Schynder). It's pretty weak right now."
Hingis, who crashed out in the second round of 1996 Atlanta Olympics, her only Games appearance, said she was following the tennis action from London closely and would be rooting for Federer to win the men's singles.
On Monday, the winner of 17 Grand Slam singles titles advanced to the third round when he beat France's Julien Benneteau in straight sets.
Federer's lone Olympic medal came at the 2008 Beijing Games when he won the gold in the men's doubles with compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka.
"Well he (Federer) just won Wimbledon and his hopes are up, and I hope the best for him being Swiss," Hingis said. "That's the one thing he hasn't won yet. That's one of probably his big goals this year to win Wimbledon and now the Olympic Games."