NEW YORK – Saturday was a day for Swiss tennis feel-good stories to be crushed.
Immediately afterwards, Martina Hingis – also 33 but retired and un-retired twice already – was also denied. Unseeded, the Swiss legend and Italian partner Flavia Pennetta were defeated 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 by the No. 4 seeds, Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina of Russia, in the women's doubles final.
"We definitely had our chances, but when we look back starting the tournament, if you ask me to sign a paper that I'm in the finals, I would probably accept it with my eyes closed. When you're that close of course you want to win. We beat them before. It's not like we didn't have a chance. We showed that we can beat the best doubles teams out there today again, but I felt like the juice ran out a little bit at the end," Hingis said. "To push a little bit more, to have a little bit more energy like we had in the beginning of the tournament, I think at the end it was a little bit they were closer, they were more aggressive. Yeah, they pushed more."
It's the second Grand Slam title for Vesnina and Makarova, who won the French Open together in 2013. They also served for the Australian Open title twice this year in the third set, only to be denied. It did cross their mind when they served for it – again at 5-2 in the third set – this time. They wanted to make sure history didn't repeat itself. And it didn't.
"Before the match we were talking with Katya that we will have chances on their serve because they don't have big serve like Serena or Venus. They don't have that much free points on their serve. So even we were down with a break we were losing set, we were still thinking that it's not over. We could still get this break back," Vesnina said. "I think we really stick together on that tough moment, and we kind of took a risk on some points and played more aggressive than we were playing at the beginning. We kind of put pressure on them, and it worked."
Vesnina and Makarova defeated Serena and Venus Williams early in the tournament, a confidence-builder if ever there was one.
Vesnina's locker is next to Serena's, and they crossed paths earlier Saturday. "I saw her and she said, 'Are you playing final today?' I'm like, 'Yes.' She looked straight at me in my eyes, she's like, 'Go for it, because you really deserve it.' I was like, 'Ah, thank you.'
The trip to the final after just four tournaments together apparently is just the beginning for the team of Hingis and Pennetta, who got to the finals of Eastbourne just before Wimbledon. Hingis also won the Premier event in Miami with Sabine Lisicki, whom she was coaching at the time but who isn't nearly the doubles player Pennetta is.
Busted Racquet was told that Hingis had originally asked Canadian Genie Bouchard to play doubles with her, and was turned down. So Pennetta-Hingis almost didn't happen.
Now, the duo will head to Asia together to play at least the two Premier events in Wuhan and Beijing, and perhaps Tokyo as well. And Hingis is already talking about playing at least the Grand Slam events and some of the best events in 2015.
And why not? The results speak for themselves.