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Martina Hingis rekindles Open spirit despite doubles loss with Flavia Pennetta in finals

Martina Hingis, left, talks with Flavia Pennetta during

Martina Hingis, left, talks with Flavia Pennetta during the doubles final against Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, of Russia, at the 2014 U.S. Open tennis tournament, Saturday, Sept. 6, 2014. Credit: AP / Charles Krupa

Old tennis champions don't necessarily fade away. Some of them play doubles.

At least that's the case with Martina Hingis, who won five Grand Slam tournaments in singles play between 1997 and 1999 and is 14 years past being the world's No. 1 player.

At 33, Hingis paired with Italy's Flavia Pennetta in women's doubles, where they made a run to the U.S. Open finals before losing Saturday night to the Russian duo of Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, the tournament's No. 4 seed, 2-6, 6-3, 6-2.

"It was an incredible journey," Hingis said. "Flavia and I teamed up in the middle of the season and two months later we're here in the final of the U.S. Open. Just really enjoyed every moment to be out there."

If Hingis and Pennetta, 32, had won, they would have been the second oldest major-tournament women's doubles champs in history. But, mostly on the steady groundstrokes of Markarova, who made it to the Open's semifinals in singles, the Russians used a six-game winning streak midway through the second set to gain control.

Hingis -- the former Swiss star who smiled through most of the match -- has been playing doubles in Team Tennis, a Billie Jean King creation, with the Washington franchise the past two years, and that encouraged her to dip her toe back into the Open waters a year ago.

She lost her first-round doubles match then, but she and Pennetta, unseeded, stormed through five victories this year, three against seeded teams.

To be back at the Open, Hingis said, "means a lot to me. I only won one title here in doubles. That was a while back, in '98. I made some good matches, some good memories, but it's been a while. So I cherish this moment."

She and Pennetta will split the runner-up prize of $250,000.

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