'Incredible Journey' For Martina Hingis Ends With Loss In Doubles Final

AP Photo/Charles Krupa

Before Saturday's appearance with Flavia Pennetta (right), Martina Hingis hadn't made a Grand Slam doubles final since pairing with Anna Kournikova to win the Australian Open in 2002.

NEW YORK -- She was 15 the first time she won a Grand Slam title, and Martina Hingis proved 18 years later that she still has it with an appearance in the US Open doubles final Friday night.

She called it "an incredible journey," but Hingis fell short with partner Flavia Pennetta of completing the adventure, as Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina became the first all-Russian women's team to win the US Open title, with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory.

"We definitely had our chances, but when we look back starting the tournament, if you asked me to sign a paper that I'm in the finals, I would probably accept it with my eyes closed," Hingis said.

"We showed that we can beat the best doubles teams out there, but I felt like the juice ran out a little bit at the end."

Hingis and Pennetta looked like they might run away with what would have been Hingis' 10th Grand Slam doubles titles and 16th major championship overall. But after leading 6-2, 3-2 and up a break in the second, the fourth-seeded Russians rallied back, taking advantage of Hingis' second serve, while the unseeded Hingis and Pennetta converted only 3 of 12 break chances, 0 of 6 in the third set.

AP Photo/Darron Cummings

Elena Vesnina, right, and Ekaterina Makarova, of Russia, rallied from a set down to capture their second Grand Slam doubles title.

It was the second Grand Slam title for Makarova and Vesnina and wrapped up a good fortnight for Makarova, who reached the semifinals in singles before losing to Serena Williams.

It was Hingis, however, who drew the fascination of the healthy-sized Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd as well as the media corps, many of whom were not covering the sport in 1997 when Hingis first burst onto the scene as the youngest No. 1 player of the 20th century at 16 years, 6 months.

In 1998, Hingis won all four Grand Slam doubles titles with two different partners, but it has been 12 years since her last appearance in a Grand Slam doubles final after winning the Australian Open with Anna Kournikova in 2002. Hingis' last slam title came in the mixed doubles at the 2006 Australian Open with Mahesh Bhupathi.

Hingis won her only US Open singles title in 1997 and her only doubles title here in '98.

Inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame last year, Hingis returned to the game eight years after two retirements -- the first from foot and ankle injuries in 2003 and the second after a two-year ban imposed following a positive test for cocaine in 2006.

Since then, Hingis, who lost in the first round of the Open last year with partner Daniela Hantuchova and has played World Team tennis and exhibition matches, as well as tour events, this year with Sabine Lisicki.

"Today I don't have to prove nothing to nobody," Hingis said.

Hingis teamed up with Pennetta in June in Eastbourne, where they lost in the finals after defeating Makarova and Vesnina in the first round.

"To be here after four tournaments together is pretty good," said Pennetta, an Open singles semifinalist last year.

Hingis, who will be 34 on Sept. 30, and Pennetta, 32, were trying to become second-oldest team to win the US Open with a combined age of 65.

"I mean, it's amazing," Hingis said. "Last year, I lost here in the first round ... a year later, I'm a year older ... and I make the finals. So, of course I'm really happy.

"It's still a great tournament. This is not going to take anything away from that. Hopefully, we will have more opportunities in the near future. We'll go to Asia and try to do our best there, and then next year there is again four Grand Slams."

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