Routliffe, Dabrowski lose epic final at Miami Open

Sunday, 31 March 2024

Erin Routliffe and Gabby Dabrowski have lost in the final of the Miami Open, going down 4-6 7-6 [5] 11-9 against Sofia Kenin and Bethany Mattek-Sands.

A victory would have given Routliffe and Dabrowski their first WTA 1000 title together, but getting this far does confirm their status as one of the best doubles teams in the world.

Going up against the veteran Mattek-Sands and 2020 Australian Open singles champion, Kenin, this wasn’t going to be a simple win for Routliffe and Dabrowski and in the end, the match, which lasted for exactly two hours, came down to a couple of crucial points which could have gone either way.

Routliffe and Dabrowski got an early break in the opening set as they found their groove early.

Serving at 4-3, Routliffe had an off game, beginning it with a double fault and also missing a volley at the net, with the game eventually going to a sudden death deuce. 

After a long rally, Dabrowski was able to put the ball away with a backhand volley at the net to take her and Routliffe one game away from capturing the opening set.

Following a hold by Kenin, the set was sealed on Dabrowski’s service game as the Kiwi/Canadian team won the game to love. 

In the third game of the following set, Mattek-Sands fell behind 30-40 on her serve, but both break points were saved.

But in the game that followed, on Dabrowski’s serve, the American team got a break for the first time in the match, with Mattek-Sands putting away a winner at the net for a 3-1 lead.

Two games later Routliffe found herself down 0-40 on her serve and although the next point was saved, Kenin hit a winner down the middle of the court on the next.

Routliffe and Dabrowski weren’t going to give up the set without a fight though and Kenin’s serve was broken in the next game.

Dabrowski faced two set points in the one that followed. Both were saved and incredibly, they were able to break Kenin’s serve in the next game to put the set back on serve. 

The set eventually went into a tiebreak and Kenin and Mattek-Sands won the first five points in it and went on to lead 6-3, to give themselves a bunch more set points. 

On the third of them, and the fifth in total, a lob from Mattek-Sands finally clinched the set.

So the title came down to a super tiebreak shootout and at the first change of ends the scores were locked up at 3-3.

But when they swapped sides again, the American team was up 8-4 and closing in on victory.

Dabrowski saved a match point with a smash at 9-6 and Mattek-Sands put a forehand wide on the next point.

A smash from Routliffe took the score to 9-9, but when serving at 9-10 Routliffe was unable to dig out Mattek-Sands’ short return, putting the ball into the net.

So the title went the way of the American team thanks to their ability to narrowly take both tiebreaks, but on the evidence of this week in Miami, Routliffe and Dabrowski won’t need to wait much longer to claim a WTA 1000 title.

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