By Adrianna Outlaw | Sunday, August 14, 2016
Russia's Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina captured the doubles gold medal sweeping Timea Bacsinszky and Martina Hingis, 6-4, 6-4.
Photo credit: AP
The final shot strayed wide, Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina fell to their knees, dropped their racquets and embraced in twirling jubilation.
From first ball to final celebration, the Russian pair were a powerfully unified front.
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Makarova and Vesnina dispatched Switzerland's Timea Bacsinszky and Martina Hingis, 6-4, 6-4, to capture the Olympic doubles gold medal in Rio.
"It's incredible," Vesnina told Bravo Network's Trenni Kusnierek. "Since we were little girls, I was watching the Olympics... We stick together and we believed we could do it to the end. It's the best moment of my career, I swear."
They are the first Russian women to win the Olympic doubles gold medal and they did it without surrendering a set
"I just love my country and here you feel much more that you're playing for your country," Makarova said. "It's not like in a Grand Slam. Here you win a medal for your country. It's unbelievable, my dream came true, that's for sure I can say."
Silver medalists Bacsinszky and Hingis are the first Swiss women to win an Olympic medal in tennis.
Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova, who swept the defending gold-medal champion Williams sisters in the opening round, defeated sixth-seeded Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, 7-5, 6-1, in the all-Czech bronze-medal match.
The 30-year-old Vesnina edged her partner and good friend Makarova, 5-7, 6-1, 9-7, in the Wimbledon round of 16 last month in a match that was emotional for both women. They joined forces on the same side of the net winning the Montreal title to tune up for Rio.
Playing just their fifth match together, the Swiss showed some moments of indecision on balls down the middle.
The Swiss stared down three break points in the opening game before Bacsinszky bended a backhand winner down the line to hold.
The Russian pair tried to go at Bacsinszky early on, but she was up to the task in the fifth game. Bacsinszky lofted an exquisite lob winner followed by an ace holding for 3-2.
Makarova and Vesnina know all about Hingis' net prowess.
The world No. 1 doubles player partnered Sania Mirza to rally past the Russians, 5-7 , 7-6 (4), 7-5, in the 2015 Wimbledon final, which came a year after Makarova and Vesnina knocked off Hingis and Flavia Pennetta in the 2014 US Open final.
Pinning Hingis back behind the baseline, Makarova and Vesnina pressured the Hall of Famer's serve. Makarova drew Hingis into floating a forehand long to seal a break at 15 for 4-3.
Vesnina exploited the opening down the seam, launching a backhand winner down the middle to consolidate.
A Makarova backhand swing volley brought the Russians to double set point. Dancing across the middle, Hingis had her nose nearly over the net knocking off three high volleys helping the Swiss escape with a hold for 4-5.
The left-handed Makarova curled a slider serve down the T on the third set point. Bacsinszky issued a delayed challenge, Hawk-Eye showed the serve caught the center stripe and the Russian pair was one set from gold after taking the 54-minute opener.
Makarova saw Hingis move and pounced clocking a short-angled backhand winner for break point in the ninth game. Trying to cut off the middle a poaching Hingis blocked a volley long then smacked the net with her Yonex stick in frustration as the Russians broke for 5-4.
Vesnina served out the one hour, 38-minute victory at love unleashing the celebration.