Singapore: Martina Hingis ended her career on a losing note when the retiring Swiss great and her partner Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan were beaten 6-4 7-6(5) by Timea Babos and Andrea Hlavackova in the WTA Finals doubles semi-final on Saturday.
Hingis announced on Thursday that she was hanging up her racket for a third and final time following this week’s event, bringing an end to an illustrious career that has garnered 25 grand slam wins — five in singles, 20 in doubles.
The top seeds had hoped to send Hingis off with a fourth WTA Finals doubles crown after two triumphs with Anna Kournikova and one with Sania Mirza, but Hungary’s Babos and Czech Hlavackova proved too strong at the Singapore Indoor Stadium.
The Hungarian-Czech duo edged a high-quality opening set but were given an almighty scare when Babos tumbled to the ground at 5-5 in the second set while trailing 30-0, twisting her left ankle and requiring a lengthy medical break for treatment.
Both pairs remained strong on serve to send the contest into a tiebreak and the top seeds were beaten when Hingis sent a backhand long on the first match point to end both her and Chan’s interest in the competition and her own career.
“Of course it’s disappointing to finish a tournament like this. I’m sure we both wish for a better ending and, you know, winning the trophy but they were just too good today," Hingis told reporters. “Overall we tried to really give it a great fight. We tried to come back. We had our chances, but every time, like even I feel like in the second set when I had that break point, I hit the tape and it would slow down instead of maybe being up 3-1.
“A lot of things were working against us, whether it was the lets or the calls. But we can’t be too disappointed about it. We still had an awesome year. Winning nine titles, going all the way, coming here, I think we can be still very proud."
Despite the defeat, Hingis will go out on at least one high after the WTA confirmed on Friday that the Swiss had secured the year-end number one ranking in women’s doubles alongside Chan after the pair won nine titles in 2017, including the US Open.
“This is definitely one thing I won’t miss: waking up, having to go train, like doing all of this over and over again," the Swiss added. “It’s something probably I won’t miss at first, definitely not, having to answer questions in the media. I mean, this is nice when you win but maybe today is not as pleasant," she joked. “No, you guys have been amazing over the last 20 years. I think, you know, you gave me joy and tennis gave me so much happiness.
“You have defeats but it still gives you a lot. I think it’s been an amazing journey and an amazing career that I can be proud of. I’ll definitely miss it at some point in my life.
“But like I said, it’s not really goodbye. I hope I’ll still be part of the game. We already made plans. I mean, if she (Chan) needs me, I can come and be a hitting girl or whatever at some point.
“I definitely will come and watch and be still part of this tour and whatever you want to call it."