RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Timea Bacsinszky and Martina Hingis staged a stunning comeback on Friday night to defeat Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka and keep alive their dream of an Olympic gold medal.
Four years ago in London, Hlavackova and Hradecka won silver and they looked on course for a return to the final when took the first set and surged ahead in the second. However, their Swiss opponents hung doggedly onto their coattails, escaping from a dramatic second set to complete a 5-7, 7-6(3), 6-2 victory.
The turning point came with Hradecka serving at 5-4 in the second set. Having already saved one match point, Hingis fended off another with a ferocious volley that struck Hlavackova in the eye from point-blank range.
Despite a lengthy injury timeout, it was a blow from which Hlavackova and Hradecka were unable to recover. The Czechs lost the first two points on the resumption to drop serve and while they did manage to force a tie-break, it was one that never looked like going their way.
Bacsinszky and Hingis compounded this misery in the decider, rattling off four straight games to complete the comeback.
Heading into Rio, an Olympic medal was one of the few prizes missing from Hingis' resume. Her hopes of winning one were dealt a double blow by the withdrawal or first Roger Federer and then Belinda Bencic. Bacsinszky, though, has deputized ably and on Saturday the first-time partnership will meet Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina for gold.
Makarova and Vesnina were quarterfinalists in London and have picked up a couple of Grand Slam titles since then. Against Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova they needed to draw on all this experience to overcome a slow start and edge through, 7-6(7), 6-4.