Routliffe first NZ player to compete in WTA Finals
New Zealand's Erin Routliffe and her Canadian partner Gabriela Dabrowski have qualified for the WTA Finals after winning their second title as a team over the weekend.
Routliffe will be the first player from New Zealand to compete in the WTA Finals.
The 28-year-old now has five WTA doubles titles to her name and this week reached a career high world doubles ranking of 13.
Routliffe and Dabrowski only started playing together back in August and their first tournament win was a Grand Slam - the US Open in New York last month.
“I think what’s working really well for us is just how well we communicate with each other,” Routliffe told Tennis NZ when we caught up with her this week.
“There’s a lot of conversations and tough conversations you have to have with your partner in order to get the best version of them and obviously get the best version of you and I think that that’s probably the best thing we do,” she said.
“We’re very open and honest with each other about everything, no matter what, even when we’re under pressure in matches. And I think that’s what’s really helped us even though we haven’t played together that long.”
They lifted their second trophy on Sunday night (NZT) at the Zhengzhou Open WTA 500 event in China, beating Japan's Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara 6-2, 6-4 in the final.
The New Zealand/Canadian duo were the tournament top seeds and at the start of last week were sitting 10th in the Race to the WTA Finals.
Their win in Zhengzhou has catapulted them into 6th place and they will now travel to Cancun in Mexico for the season-ending championships.
“Zhengzhou this last week was really, really exciting for us, we knew if we did well that we would have a good chance to play the WTA Finals,” Routliffe said.
“There was a lot of pressure on us because of that. I’ve obviously never been to the WTA Finals so that’s been a big goal for me for years. Gaby’s been a few times but it’s still really exciting to go at the end of the year and obviously we haven’t been playing together that long so it’s kind of like a bonus for us to cap off some good months.”
Routliffe and Dabrowski have won 13 of their last 16 matches. That includes their win at the US Open in September, as well as their runners-up finish at the Guadalajara Open WTA 1000 event in Mexico a few weeks ago.
Routliffe said she and Dabrowski were happy with how they stuck to their own game in Zhengzhou last week “and played really aggressively”.
“We had a lot of tough matches, it was a really strong tournament and we stuck together the entire time, so I think that's what we're most happy with.”
They will now rest for a few days before heading to Cancun in Mexico, where they will have about five days of training and preparation ahead of the WTA Finals, which get underway on 29 October.
“We're both really excited and really pumped for it,” Routliffe said.
She said it has been “a crazy year so far” with a lot of ups and downs.
“The beginning of the year was fine and then in the middle I was really struggling, not winning many matches. I felt like I was playing really well. I feel like I kept telling people, if I was asked, that I was playing well. I was just trying to back myself to keep going and I surrounded myself with people that really believed in me.
“And so I think that paid off, obviously partnering with Gaby has been amazing and I'm so thankful to her for taking a chance on me and believing in me as well, and I'm glad that we are playing really well together and I'm excited for more because I think we can do a lot of really good things together in the future.”