Routliffe heads to Indian Wells after thrilling WTA title win in Austin
New Zealand doubles specialist Erin Routliffe is on her way to the California desert with another WTA title to her name, after a thrilling tiebreak victory in Austin, Texas against the tournament’s top seeds.
Routliffe and her Indonesian partner Aldila Sutjiadi beat their higher ranked opponents Ellen Perez (AUS) and Nicole Melichar-Martinez (USA) 6-4, 3-6, 10-8 in the doubles final of the inaugural ATX Open on Monday afternoon (NZT).
Routliffe is currently ranked 34th in the world for doubles and this is her third win at a WTA 250 event, coming at an important part of the season with the prestigious Indian Wells and Miami WTA 1000 events coming up this month.
An emotional Routliffe celebrated the match-winning point, after a mammoth 20-shot final rally, by throwing her arms up into the air and launching into a hug with Sutjiadi. The Austin crowd cheered as Routliffe looked up and soaked it all in.
“The last point was pretty crazy, I don’t think I’ve ever played a match point that long,” Routliffe said afterwards.
“When the return went out, you could probably see by the reaction, there was relief, happiness, a lot of emotion that was let out in that moment.
“I’ve had a little bit of a rough start to the year, so I’ve been really trying to grind it out and trying to get my confidence, and I know I’ve been playing well but I haven’t really been seeing the results that I want to see, and so this helped me get my confidence back.”
The 27-year-old immediately heads to Southern California for the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, often called an unofficial fifth Grand Slam. Routliffe will be playing with Chilean Alexa Guarachi, who she partnered with in Dubai a couple of weeks ago.
They will also play together at the Miami Open later this month, another WTA 1000 event.
Routliffe had a lot of positives to take away from her week in Austin.
“I think I served pretty well this week on court. I think I mixed up my serves well, and I think I was pretty consistent on returns, mixing it up, going hard and chips and lobs and not letting my opponent see the same shot every return. I was happy with that,” she said.
Routliffe said she has been working a lot on her lobs and changing the pace of her shots, “so I think that was probably the thing that I saw in my game that I was most pleased with”.
She said winning this title will push her in the direction she wants to be in as her season progresses.
“I want to put myself in the position to win bigger titles and go deep in bigger tournaments, week in and week out, so this just helps with that and any time I can get matches and try to work on my game and work on my mental game, my physical game, all that is a positive.”
Routliffe won the Citi Open in Washington DC in August last year with American partner Jessica Pegula. Her first WTA title came at the Internazionali Femminili di Palermo (Palermo Ladies Open) with Belgian Kimberley Zimmermann in July 2021.
Routliffe also won a doubles title just before Christmas last year at the EVES Open – ITF World Tennis Tour: Tauranga (W25), with Kiwi partner Paige Hourigan.