8 APRIL 2002

The love match between dazzling Swiss tennis star Martina Hingis and Spanish golfing champion Sergio Garcia seems to be hotting up, with the couple, who spent several days at Sergio's home in Spain recently, becoming much more relaxed about being seen together.

The sporty pair first hit it off at the Australian Open in January and were then spotted together at the Accenture World Matchplay golf championship in California in February. Initially secretive about their trysts, they now seem to have shed their shyness and Martina has even said that the relationship mixes well with her career.

The two are both sporting prodigies: Martina became tennis´s youngest Grand Slam winner and number one in 1997 at only 16, and 22-year-old Sergio, or 'El Niño' (The Boy), as he is known, is considered to be Tiger Woods' greatest long term rival.

He was in the front row watching Martina, 21, when she played at a tournament in Indian Wells, California, and the pair was subsequently photographed enjoying an outing in a blue Ferrari near Borriol, Spain, where Martina spent a few days at Sergio´s home.

Martina has admitted that it hasn't been easy for her to find love because her success is too much for most men.

"It's one of the consequences of fame and a lot of people can't handle it," she said last year. "If you are a guy and successful, the attention from the girls is twice as big and they don't even have to be pretty, it's so unfair. But guys are intimidated by fame. I'm proud of what I've achieved but it is difficult to find a person strong enough to cope with it all and respect me at the same time."

Looks like fellow champion Sergio may be the perfect match.

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The couple spent a few days at the golfer´s house in his hometown of Castellon, Spain, to relax in between their busy schedules
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Sergio was a front-row spectator of Martina´s at a recent tournament in California. A keen tennis player himself, Sergio was also seen helping Martina warm up before her doubles matches at this year´s Australian Open
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Martina, who has tried her hand at golf, says the relationship mixes well with her career
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