RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Four years after pairing up for the first time ahead of the Olympic tennis event in London, No.7 seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina strike gold in Rio, taking out No.5 seeds and World Co-No.1 Martina Hingis and countrywoman Timea Bacsinszky, 6-4, 6-4.
"It's incredible," Vesnina said after the match. "Ever since I was a little girl, I was watching the Olympic Games, and it was such a dream just to come here and get a medal for Russia, for my country and in front of my dad. We've been through so much, and yet we were so good today.
"We stuck together and we believed til the end that we could win. It's just incredible, I still can't believe that we won the gold. It's the best moment in my career, I swear!"
Makarova and Vesnina came to Rio having just won their first title of the season at the Rogers Cup, but not before enduring a nightmarish travel itinery that nearly left them late for the Opening Ceremonies.
Once there, the Russian duo took care of business in efficient style, running through five wins without dropping a set over opposition that included WTA Finals runner-ups and No.4 seeds Garbiñe Muguruza and Carla Suárez Navarro and the Czech duo that ousted three-time Gold medalists Venus and Serena Williams, Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova. Safarova and Strycova won the all-Czech bronze medal match earlier in the day over Hlavackova and Hradecka, 7-5, 6-1, to round out the podium.
? WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) August 14, 2016
"I just love my country," Makarova said. "Here you feel like you're playing for your country that much more. The whole Russian team trains together, and there are flags everywhere, and when you've won a medal, they count it towards your country's total. My dream came true, I can say."
Hingis and Bacsinszky were a late partnership after Belinda Bencic was forced to withdraw from Rio due to a wrist injury, and came back from match point down in the semifinal against Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, silver medalists in 2012. For Hingis, it was just her second Olympic appearance - first since 1996 in Atlanta - and her first medal.
The Russians raced out to an early break to start the match, and though the Swiss kept things close throughout, Makarova and Vesnina managed to stay on serve throughout the second set before swiftly breaking and holding to seal victory in one hour and 39 minutes. A clean match from both teams, the Russians were the more aggressive pair, hitting 36 winners to 24 unforced errors, while Hingis and Bacsinszky combined for 23 winners to 18 unforced errors.
"We were in great shape because we won a tournament the week before, and I think we had some confidence under our belts," Vesnina said. "We came to each match without thinking about any medals, I swear! We just played match by match. Today we handled our nerves; I was really nervous in the beginning and Katya held it together for us. From there, we stuck together and we won; my god!
? ITF Olympic Tennis (@OlympicsTennis) August 14, 2016