Erin Routliffe overwhelmed with grand slam win

Sunday, 10 September 2023

Erin Routliffe says she was overwhelmed with emotions when Vera Zvonareva hit the ball wide on championship point in the final of the women’s doubles at the US Open on Sunday.

Routliffe fell to her knees once their 7-6 (9) 6-3 final over Russia’s Zvonareva and Germany’s Laura Siegemund was over after two hours 18 minutes of intense tennis.

Her partner, Gaby Dabrowski rushed over to hug her on the ground as what they had achieved after playing together for just a month started to sink in.

Speaking in the press conference afterwards, Routliffe said that moment on championship point was a mixture of disbelief and joy.

“I don't know what it was,” Routliffe said. 

“I think I was just so happy, kind of relieved in a way, like, it's you're putting a lot on yourself in those moments.

“Obviously we both haven't won a slam before, but I think we believed that we could do it. So if it's right there in front of you, you are like, Oh, my God, it's there, and you're trying not to think about that but you are. I would just say it was like pure joy mostly.”

Routliffe has joined an elite group of New Zealanders to win a grand slam. She is the first Kiwi to achieve this since Michael Venus won in 2017 in the men’s doubles at the French Open, but just the second female Kiwi, joining Judy Connor-Chaloner, who won the women’s doubles at the Australian Open in 1979 with Dianne Evers.

“Wow. I don't know if I knew that,” Routliffe said.

“Yeah, that's why you play. I'm super proud and happy to fly the New Zealand flag every single week. 

“They have been so welcoming. One of my main coaches is in Auckland (Neil Carter), I go there every December for my offseason. Obviously born there and lived there till I was four or five.

“Then also having the Canadian connection. I haven't really thought about the history part of it, but I'm just really proud. 

“I hope I can continue and make even more history for New Zealand for sure.”

Dabrowski took a risk partnering with Routliffe. When they teamed up together for the first time at the beginning of August Routliffe was ranked 60 in the world and Dabrowski was at No 19.

It meant Dabrowski wouldn’t be seeded as highly as if she partnered with a player around her ranking, but she was prepared to give their partnership a go.

“Yeah, it feels like we’ve just started,” Dabrowski said. 

“We had a pretty good start in Montreal (making the second round). in Cincy, we had some good wins. 

“In Cincy, in particular our first round when we beat Shibahara-Aoyama, and they had just won Montreal, I thought that was a good indication we could hang with one of the best teams in the world.

"Our second-round loss was a heartbreaker. It was really close and we lost to that team again in Cleveland.

“Yeah, we beat some great teams along the way into this tournament, and also at this tournament. 

“I would say for me it started when we actually beat Aoyama-Shibahara in Cincy, the belief, the true belief. But I believed before but when you have a win like that it solidifies that my instincts were right.

“Then I think we also had some really good conversations, honest conversations coming into this tournament. 

“We had the tough loss in Cleveland which kind of made us put everything out into the open. I think I'm really grateful to Erin for having the honest conversations with me and I think she feels the same way.

“It helps us come into the matches on the same page, and I think that's reflected in our results this week. Because even though we faced a lot of adversity in a lot of our matches from slow starts, to momentum shifts, to the crowd being completely against us, we really stuck through it together.”

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