New York: Martina Hingis turned back the clock to reach the US Open women's doubles final on Thursday, 12 years after her last run to a title match at the majors. The Swiss 33-year-old and her Italian partner Flavia Pennetta made the championship match with a 6-3, 6-4 win over third seeds Sania Mirza and Cara Black, the India-Zimbabwe pairing.
Hingis last appeared in a doubles final at a Grand Slam in 2002 at the Australian Open where she won the title with Anna Kournikova, one of nine doubles crowns she captured during her heydey.
Martina Hingis of Switzerland and Flavia Pennetta of Italy. Pic/AFP
"It's great to be out here again, I am enjoying every second and I really feel the energy of the crowd," said Hingis, who also captured the 1998 doubles title in New York with Jana Novotna.
"I got goosebumps over the last three games. There was so much tension and nerves out there as I don't know how many more chances I will get to play again. I enjoy every second."
In the final on Saturday, Hingis and Pennetta, who are playing their first Grand Slam tournament together, will face Russian fourth seeds Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova for the title.
Hingis won five Grand slam singles titles, 43 WTA Tour singles crowns and was once world number during her prime.
After six years in retirement, she gradually felt her way back on to the doubles circuit, teaming up with Daniela Hantuchova and then winning the Miami title with German Sabine Lisicki in March.
Italian Pennetta had plenty of experience in doubles, winning 12 titles with the now-retired Gisela Dulko, including the 2011 Australian Open women's doubles. Hingis and Pennetta put out three seeded teams to make the US Open final -- Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Lucie Safarova, seeded 15, Kveta Peschke and Katarina Srebotnik, the fifth seeds before seeing off Mirza and Black. It's all been achieved without dropping a set.
"I only won one title here in doubles. That was a while back in '98. I made some good matches, like some great memories, but it's been a while. So it's like I really cherish this moment because I have had some great matches, but also in doubles I didn't feel like I had too many opportunities," added Hingis.
"I lost to players that actually I beat in this tournament now again, like Peschke."
Hingis said that she and Pennetta are a perfect match, both bringing strengths to the court. "She can hold her own from the baseline and I try to scare them at the net."
Despite their new-found friendship, there's one area in which they may find it hard to agree -- next week's Davis Cup semi-final between Switzerland and Italy.
"I hope Roger (Federer) and Stan (Wawrinka), they're going to win, of course. They are a great team if they want to win one time in Davis Cup it's now. Now is the time to shine," said Hingis.
Pennetta admitted that the Swiss stars -- number three and four in the world -- will have the upper hand. "It's going to be tough. Really tough."