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How Kiwi tennis player landed Grand Slam Champion Coco Gauff as doubles partner

Author
Bonnie Jansen,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 May 2024, 2:19pm
Erin Routliffe and Gabriela Dabrowski celebrate winning the 2023 US Open. Photo / Getty Images
Erin Routliffe and Gabriela Dabrowski celebrate winning the 2023 US Open. Photo / Getty Images

How Kiwi tennis player landed Grand Slam Champion Coco Gauff as doubles partner

Author
Bonnie Jansen,
Publish Date
Wed, 15 May 2024, 2:19pm

Kiwi tennis player Erin Routliffe has revealed the pros and cons of doubling up with a singles Grand Slam champion.

Routliffe has partnered with 2023 US Open winner Coco Gauff for this week’s Italian Open, with her regular doubles partner Gabby Dabrowski unavailable due to injury.

Routliffe – who has a world doubles ranking of six – said it’s taken time to adjust to playing with someone whose main priority is singles.

“Doubles is like a side plan for her,” she told the Herald. “She’s obviously still very, very good at doubles, but we’re just trying to navigate our way through matches, learn about each other and our game styles and how we want to play.”

“We don’t practice together on days that we’re not playing because she has her singles matches and we didn’t practice together leading up to the tournament because she’s doing her single stuff with her team,” said Routliffe.

Gauff was the youngest American, at 19 years old, to win a Slam since the legend Serena Williams. Currently ranked third in the world, Gauff has won seven singles titles, including back-to-back Auckland ASB Classic events.

Coco Gauff celebrates winning the ASB Classic again earlier this year. Photo / Photosport
Coco Gauff celebrates winning the ASB Classic again earlier this year. Photo / Photosport

Routliffe acknowledged 20-year-old Gauff’s high level of professionalism.

“[Professionalism’s] probably been ingrained in her since she was quite young because she’s been good or one of the best in the world since a very young age.

“I’ve played with singles players before [but] not one ranked as high as [Gauff] is – she’s definitely very professional.”

Routliffe, 29, who previously represented Canada at tennis, has also had her fair share of success on the doubles court – clinching five titles and winning the US Open, the same year Gauff did.

Erin Routliff. Photo / Photosport
Erin Routliff. Photo / Photosport

After Dabrowski was ruled out for the rest of this year’s clay season, the connection with Gauff came about almost seamlessly.

“I guess I was lucky in the sense that just her normal partner [Jessica Pegula] was injured at the same time – she was looking and then reached out to me.”

Despite not being a big social media user, Routliffe said she’s not surprised Gauff has a legion of TikTok followers.

The Kiwi joked: “Is she big on TikTok? I didn’t even know.

“That’s hilarious! I’ll definitely have to give her some shit about that, I love that.

“She’s a great, she’s a really nice girl, a great personality and really funny.”

The Kiwi-American duo, who are ranked third, are through to the quarter-finals in Rome and will meet the tournament’s fifth seeds, American Taylor Townsend and Czech Kateřina Siniaková at midnight on Wednesday.

Routliffe said she’ll partner Canadian Leylah Fernandez at the upcoming French Open and said this particular partnership shouldn’t come with any surprises.

“I’ve played with her twice, and we played the US Open together a couple of years ago.

“My first good result at a Grand Slam was with Layla, I know her pretty well so I’m excited for that.”

Dabrowski is expected to return for the grass season.

Bonnie Jansen is a multimedia journalist in the NZME sports team. She’s a football commentator and co-host of the Football Fever podcast. She’s equally passionate about women’s sport and was part of the Te Rito cadetship scheme before becoming a fulltime journalist.

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