SINGAPORE - Martina Hingis' career came to its (presumably) final end at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global on Saturday following a 6-4, 7-6(5) defeat alongside WTA Doubles Co-No.1 Chan Yung-Jan to Timea Babos and Andrea Hlavackova.
"It's disappointing to finish a tournament like this," she explained to the press this afternoon. "I'm sure we both wished for a better ending and, you know, like winning the trophy. They were just too good today.
"We tried to really give it a great fight. We tried to come back. We had our chances. I feel like in the second set when I had that break point, I hit the tape and it would slow down instead, and maybe we'd end up being up 3-1.
"We had a lot of matches like that that went for us, and today it didn't," she continued with a smile. "That's what happens. This is life. This is tennis. This is the game."
Hingis had previously announced that 2017 would be her final season after her opening round win over Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke, but didn't feel much pressure ahead of what ended up being her last career match, nor were there tears after.
The Swiss Miss would leave the game as she'd arrived, smiling through decades of highs, lows, and major shifts in a game she dominated across all disciplines.
"There was probably more in the first match, because you feel like you step on the court and you don't know. Once you're there, you don't think about it anymore. You just try to find a solution to the game. I think we tried everything that we could, but it just didn't work.
"We can't be too disappointed about it. We still had an awesome year. Winning nine titles, going all the way, coming here, qualifying for the Championships, I think we can be still very proud."
Pairing up with Chan at the start of the Middle East Swing, the duo won three of the four Premier Mandatory events in 2017, their first and only Grand Slam title at the US Open, and rode a 19-match winning streak from the Western & Southern Open into Saturday's semifinal.
"I have a great partner. We felt really good, and we found a way to win and a way to cover each other. Sometimes she'd play better; sometimes I'd play better. But we found a way to win. It's not like we were steam rolling all the time. We'd win 10-8, 11-9, match points down, and sometimes easier matches."
Her triumphant farewell tour hit its peak in Flushing Meadows, where she also partnered Jamie Murray to win a second straight mixed doubles Grand Slam, capping off her major haul at 25 and locking up the Year-End No.1 ranking during the Asian Swing.
"The whole journey, it's been incredible," Chan added, having joined Hingis atop the WTA rankings on Monday. "Today it wasn't the way that we wanted, but still, we had a great year.
"She was my idol since I was eight, and to be able to play with her and then have this incredible run, it's unforgettable. Hopefully I can continue the performance at this level, and then also use the things I learned from her."
Hingis had slowly returned to the doubles circuit in 2013, playing the US Open with Daniela Hantuchova and later pairing with coaching protogées Sabine Lisicki and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
The comeback kicked into high gear when she won Indian Wells and Miami with Sania Mirza, forming an unfortgettable partnership where "Santina" won 41 straight matches and three straight Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon, the US Open, and Australian Open.
"I will be forever grateful to have had these partnerships, because without Sania, I wouldn't have come back and had that feeling again. When we won Wimbledon, it was pure joy, and getting back to No.1 was another one of those things. I couldn't have done it alone. You know, those times as a team were incredible.
"Every single partner I had on the way, whether it was now Latisha [Chan] and Jamie, as well, it's been amazing time to be on court."
Relieved to be done with the tour's daily grind, Hingis plans a well-deserved trip home, content with her career trilogy and eager to move on to her next phase in life.
"I think I shouldn't have any regrets, because like I said, there is lot of matches you play, a lot of things on and off the court that happen. They happen for a reason, and if they are positive, great. If not, you learn from them.
"Of course there are matches I'd like to play over, but some of them, I imagine I also got lucky to get away with, whether it was in singles, doubles, any time. I think overall I'm very proud of my career, and I wouldn't change with anybody for anything."