NEW YORK, NY, USA - Martina Hingis' first match at the US Open in six years ended in defeat at the hands of defending champions Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci in the opening round of the doubles on Friday.
Just as they had been in Cincinnati earlier this month, Hingis and partner Daniela Hantuchova were competitive against the WTA's leading team, yet they were once again left ruing missed opportunities.
After dropping the opening set, Hingis and Hantuchova twice moved a break ahead in the second but on both occasions were pegged back by the No.1 seeds. Then, at 6-5 down and with the capacity crowd on Court 17 baying for a tie-break, Hingis faltered, double faulting three times to help Errani and Vinci across the finish line, 63 75.
The anticlimactic end masked what had been another encouraging performance from Hingis, whose court presence, reflexes and touch around the net looked as sharp as ever. However, this was of little consolation after the match.
"I wish I was winning," Hingis, who has now gone 3-5 in her eight matches since returning to tennis earlier this summer. "I always enjoy the big stage. You see the people that came. They enjoyed it. They really cheered us on. So, I mean, I couldn't ask for much more, but I always play tennis to win matches and to win tournaments."
Errani and Vinci, on the other hand, will take plenty of encouragement from their ability to get over the winning line. Despite sitting on top of the rankings, the Italians are without a title since February, but looked far more solid in New York, committing just seven unforced errors in the match.
Joining them in the second round will be No.2 seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, who defeated Shuko Aoyama and Chanelle Scheepers, 64 61. Also advancing were Hsieh Su-Wei and Peng Shuai and last year's runners-up Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka.