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Routliffe, Gauff beaten in Italian Open final

Erin Routliffe and Coco Gauff Italian Open tennis
Erin Routliffe and Coco Gauff during the Italian Open women's doubles final. PHOTO: WTA TOUR

New Zealand's Erin Routliffe and American Coco Gauff lost a tight women's doubles final of the Italian Open 3-6 6-3 8-10 to the Italian pair of Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini in Rome.


The match, which lasted two minutes short of an hour and a half, was played in front of a packed out Centre Court crowd and was eventually decided when Gauff double-faulted on the Italians’ first match point.


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It can all come down to a few key points and spurred on by the local support, Errani and Paolini had more of them go their way.


In the first set of the final, Errani served at 5-2 and had a set point when the game went to 40-40, but this was saved by Routliffe, who put the ball away with a smash at the net.


However, in the next game, on Gauff’s serve, the American made a couple of errors to find herself down 15-40, then on the next point went too long on a forehand.


At 30-30 and deuce in the seventh game of the next set Gauff and Errani had a lengthy crosscourt exchange from the ad side and during it Gauff steadily overpowered her opponent to win the point and get the crucial break.



Routliffe consolidated the break in the next game and Paolini saved two set points in the next, however, Gauff followed this by holding serve, to send the match into a third-set super tiebreak.


Routliffe and Gauff went out to a 4-1 lead and at the second change of ends they were up 7-5.

This was extended to 8-6, but the Italians then went on a charge and had a match point at 9-8 on Gauff’s serve.


The parochial crowd, who cheered a Gauff double fault earlier in the super tiebreak, let out another huge hurrah when the American’s first serve went into the net and unfortunately, there was the same outcome from Gauff’s second serve.


Routliffe has picked up enough points from this tournament to move up to third in the world rankings when they’re next released, a career-high for the Auckland-born 29-year-old.


Routliffe will now play in Strasbourg and the French Open with Leylah Fernandez,


Meanwhile, Lulu Sun has been drawn against world No 278 Nigina Abduraimova from Uzbekistan in the first round of qualifying at the French Open.

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