With the news that Martina Hingis may make a full-fledged return to competitive tennis, playing singles and doubles both, the Spin began speculating about what other players (stars, even) still have what it takes though they haven't played ATP or WTA ball for years. Without further ado, here's our list of the five most likely candidates, not that any of them will wield a racquet in a tour-sanctioned match again:
Jennifer Capriati. She played with true grit and a zeal to win after overcoming personal troubles stemming from teenage angst. Yet a shoulder injury—and perhaps more emotional strife—sidelined her, stifling the late-breaking second leg of a brilliant career. (Downside: She's 37 now—and not everyone is forever young like Martina Navratilova.)
Robin Soderling. A bout with mononucleosis felled the Swede, who hasn't been seen in action for two years, since July 2011. He's got a kid now, though, and quite possibly his tennis and heart strings are tugging him in different directions. Still, he's just 28 years old.
Nicole Vaidisova. It's splitsville for her and Radek Stepanek, which means that the former WTA No. 7 star could reignite her singles career. Get this: She made $2.7 million in her abbreviated time on tour, reaching two Grand Slam semifinals and going to the fourth round or better at all four majors. The Czech is still just 24 years young.
Lindsay Davenport. Quick to jump on the Hingis bandwagon herself, the former No. 1 won the Wimbledon ladies invitational doubles event this summer with the Swiss Miss. Even if the Newport Beach, Calif., native didn't return to singles, a doubles dalliance with her trusty partner could prove profitable—and fans would be ravenous to see this tandem playing again on tour. (Downside: Davenport has multiple offspring and likely no desire to travel beyond the U.S. Open Series hardcourt events, not when she can coolly perch in the Tennis Channel studios and call some far-flung matches.)
Mario Ancic. Still 29, the Croatian sensation carved out a career much like Vaidasova's, reaching a No. 7 ranking on the ATP World Tour and winning a few titles before bowing out early. Ancic's new career as a lawyer likely precludes him from ever returning, but the guy's game was big, and, last we knew, he was still hitting with collegiate players at Columbia University.
So yes, we can dream, right? Who would you like to see return to the game competitively? Sound off below.
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