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1ST LEAD Hingis gets bittersweet first Olympic medal after two-decade career By Alexandra Mayer-Hohdahl, dpa

Europe
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Rio de Janeiro (dpa) - Swiss tennis veteran Martina Hingis secured her first Olympic medal Sunday after two decades in the sport, but had to settle for silver after a doubles loss to Russia.

Hingis and her partner Timea Bacsinszky lost 6-4, 6-4 against Russian gold winners Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, in an hour-and-a-half-long match under a hot sun in Rio de Janeiro.

Hingis, ranked first in the world for women‘s doubles, and Bacsinszky struggled to assert themselves against their Russian rivals throughout the hard-fought match and could not hang on past the second set, failing to score at all in its last game.

"It‘s been an incredible journey ... Being able to play for gold, it‘s unbelievable," 35-year-old Hingis told journalists after the match. "Of course at some point you‘re disappointed, but ... I‘m very proud of what we achieved this week."

"What we lived together, the two of us, it cannot be bought. It‘s something that will stay with us forever," 27-year-old Bacsinszky added, as the two women got teary-eyed and hugged each other.

It was the second Olympics for Hingis, two decades after she first played in the Atlanta Games at the age of 15. She received some of the loudest cheers from the sparse audience in the Rio stadium.

As a teenager, the Swiss prodigy won five majors before retiring in early 2003 with foot and ankle problems. She returned to the court in 2006, playing until late 2007 when she tested positive for traces of cocaine. Her second comeback came in 2013 to the doubles court.

Hingis refused to comment on whether she would be back in four years‘ time to compete in the Tokyo Olympics.

"It‘s different when you‘re winning grand slams, number one in the world at 16, you think you have another 10 years at least at the top of the game," she said. "Now I know that it is coming towards the end."

The women‘s doubles bronze medal went to Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic.

Sunday is the last day of tennis competitions at the Rio Olympics. The most anticipated match will come later in the day, when Wimbledon champion Andy Murray faces off against Rio surprise Juan Martin del Potro for gold in the men‘s singles.

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