Having played a lot of doubles over the years, I've taken shots to almost every part of my body. (I think that forehand to the belly button in high school probably hurt most.) And I've long said, "All is fair in doubles."
That statement was put to the test on Saturday at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In the women’s doubles semifinal, Switzerland's Martina Hingis—down match point—planted a forehand volley in the face of opponent the Czech Republic's Andrea Hlavackova.
The shot broke Hlavackova's orbital bone, sending her to the hospital for a few hours the night before her impending bronze-medal match alongside stalwart partner Lucie Hradecka. (They would go on to lose that match to fellow Czechs Lucie Safarova and Barbora Strycova.)
El pelotazo de Hingis a Hlavackova en SF le quebró un hueso de la cara, y podría necesitar cirugía. pic.twitter.com/uAtEVifo5V— WTA En Español (@WTAenespanol) August 14, 2016
"It happens," said Hlavackova in response to whether Hingis' shot was a fair and sporting play. She later offered, "She's one of the greatest who knows where to put the ball. When I saw the video and I saw the space which was around me, I have to admit that she could have put it away."
Hlavackova added: "She was more worried about not getting a medical timeout for me than about my eye."
After the incident, Hradecka was dealing with her own issue, not falling asleep until 3 a.m. after separate mixed doubles play that lasted past 1 a.m.
Hingis, an expert doubles player who last competed in the Olympics a full 20 years ago, went to lose the gold-medal match with partner Timea Bacsinszky to Russia's Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova in straight sets. Even so, the Swiss misses seized on their opportunity to take their country's first medals in women's tennis.
That's tennis at its best—bruised pride and fractured bones and all.
Follow Jon on Twitter @jonscott9.