Routliffe ready for her second French Open
UPDATE: 1 June 2023
Erin Routliffe and partner Alexa Guarachi have gone down in a tough three setter against Katarzyna Piter of Poland & Dalma Galfi of Hungary in their first round French Open match. Their opponents were a late change after Lauren Davis & Claire Liu withdrew from the doubles draw.
30 May 2023
This is the 28-year-old’s second French Open and she and her Chilean doubles partner Alexa Guarachi are playing Lauren Davis and Claire Liu from the United States in the first round in Paris on Wednesday (local time).
Routliffe arrived in the French capital late last week and has spent the past few days preparing – two hours of practice on the hallowed clay courts each day, plus an hour in the gym.
“We just try to stay relaxed, see Paris a little bit, hang out with our coaches and eat some good food – we love French food,” she said.
Routliffe is a doubles specialist – ranked 34th in the world – but her most recent milestone on court came while playing singles.
Last week she won her first WTA main draw singles match at the Internationaux de Strasbourg in France, a WTA 250 event.
“It felt really good,” Routliffe said.
Her opponent was Su-Wei Hsieh, a former world number one doubles player and top 30 singles player that a teenage Routliffe used to watch on TV.
“She’s still a very, very good player and I was really proud of the way that I fought and the way that I played.”
Routliffe won the match 7-6, 1-6, 6-1.
“I was trying to make things happen – drop shots, lobs, slices, coming to the net – things that would make her uncomfortable and I think I did a good job of that.”
In the middle of the first set of that match, Routliffe started to feel some abdominal pain. She consulted a physio and decided to continue playing.
“I wasn’t really able to hit my big serve … but hitting big serves against her, she kind of likes that, so it kind of worked to my advantage, I guess, in a way.”
The abdominal strain did force Routliffe to pull out of her second round match against Elina Svitolina, however, “which was a huge bummer because I was really excited to play that”.
Routliffe said she felt like she was playing well in Strasbourg and was otherwise feeling good on court. She said she tries to play singles matches whenever she can, when she’s feeling fresh, as it helps her doubles game.
The decision to pull out of the tournament and take some time off turned out to be a good one, however.
Routliffe had several days of rest, on orders from the physio, and is now feeling much better as a result.
“A week before a Grand Slam you’re always a little tentative to push anything further than it needs to be pushed,” she said.
Routliffe was back playing points on the practice court and was working her way up to serving at full speed again when she spoke to Tennis NZ from Paris earlier this week.
At last year’s French Open, Routliffe reached the third round with Polish partner Alicja Rosolska. They then made the quarter finals at Wimbledon.
Routliffe has so far won three WTA 250 doubles titles in her career, all with different partners – the Internazionali Femminili di Palermo (Palermo Ladies Open) in July 2021, the Citi Open in Washington DC in August 2022, and the ATX Open in Austin in February this year.
Routliffe also reached two quarter finals at WTA 500 events in Adelaide and Doha earlier this year.
She partnered with Alexa Guarachi in Dubai in late February, they reunited at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells a couple of weeks later, and have played together at every tournament since then.
Routliffe was 17 when she met Guarachi for the first time, during a recruiting visit at the University of Alabama in the United States.
“We’ve been really, really good friends for the last five to six years, so we definitely know each other’s personalities really well, we know how to make each other laugh,” Routliffe said.
“When we’re not feeling our best, I think it’s hard to hide that from each other, which probably is a con of playing with a friend, but I think the pros outweigh the cons because we just have a lot of fun together, we try to keep the moments light and enjoy each other and it’s going well.”
Their best result as a team so far this season was at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, Germany – a WTA 500 event.
“They are a highly ranked team, they’ve played together a while, they’ve had huge results, and we lost to them in Indian Wells, so it was really nice to get that win and see the hard work that we’ve been putting in,” Routliffe said.
She said reaching the final of the Catalonia Open WTA 125 event in Spain was also a good week for her and Guarachi.
They have been working hard as a team to improve their strengths and manage their weaknesses, Routliffe said.
“We’ve come up short a couple of times with some tough teams.”
She said they want to be aggressive on court at Roland-Garros this week, they want to play on their terms, get to the net, be consistent with their first serves, and make teams fight for every return game.
“I think we’ve both worked a lot on our returns, so our return games – we’re trying to be in every single one of them and not let other teams hold easily,” Routliffe said.
“I know we’re ready.”
She said she has enjoyed the clay season so far and is looking forward to the next challenge.
“I’m really excited for the upcoming tournaments ahead, and definitely really excited to get going in Paris.”