Makarova, Vesnina shatter Hingis's gold bid

Rio de Janeiro (AFP) - Russia's Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina shattered Martina Hingis's hopes of a golden Olympic return after a 20-year absence with victory in the women's doubles final on Sunday.

The seventh seeds won 6-4, 6-4 against Hingis and Swiss partner Timea Bacsinszky, seeded five.

Hingis last played the Olympics in 1996 in Atlanta.

For the Russian duo, the gold medal comes on top of their two Grand Slam titles together at the 2013 French Open and 2014 US Open.

Vesnina and lifelong friend Makarova almost didn't make it to Rio due to a series of flight delays and cancellations on their way from the Montreal tournament where they were champions.

It took the pair the best part of four days to get to Brazil, arriving two days before the Olympics started.

"This situation helped us a little bit to get ready for everything in Rio," insisted Vesnina.

"We were supposed to get here Tuesday morning, but we got here Wednesday but late.

"We got the last two seats in economy class and we were like this (really close to each other). We gave up our business tickets.

"We stick together, we knew what we wanted and it's incredible that we got this gold medal in the end."

The result ended a difficult Olympics for 35-year-old Hingis.

First, Roger Federer, her scheduled partner in the mixed doubles, withdrew with injury and a day later Belinda Bencic, her doubles teammate, also pulled out.

In a last-minute solution, where Vitorija Golubic dropped out of the team, Hingis was paired with Bacsinszky.

Hingis also split with regular tour doubles partner, India's Sania Mirza despite the duo being the top ranked players in the world.

"It's different when you are winning Grand Slams at 16, you think you have another 10 years, at least, at the top of the game," said Hingis.

"But now that I know it's coming towards the end and everything is behind me, today is the way it is."

Back in the 1996 Olympics, Hingis lost in the second round of the singles and reached the quarter-finals of the doubles with Patty Schnyder.

She went onto establish herself as the leading player of her generation, winning five Grand Slam singles titles between 1997 and 1999.

But she retired in 2003 with a knee injury before returning to the tour in 2006.

One year later, she was into her second retirement when she was hit with a two-year doping suspension having tested positive for cocaine at Wimbledon.

Six years later she was back again, reinvented as a doubles specialist and has since won three Grand Slam titles, forming an imposing partnership with Mirza.

Hingis has yet to commit to playing at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo when she'll pushing 40.

"I think if you asked me 10 years ago if I would be here in Rio, I would say you're crazy. Because I didn't play for six years and being able to play for gold is unbelievable."