Photo by Mauricio Paiz

It was a battle to the very end in the women’s doubles final of the Miami Open, but Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe ultimately came up short against the American duo of Sofia Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands (4-6, 7-6(5), 11-9). The two-hour match was the longest of the tournament for the Canadian and the New Zealander. 

Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe came into the final with confidence. Thanks to two brilliant returns by Dabrowski, they broke 2020 AO champion Sofia Kenin in the very first game.

With the help of Routliffe in full force at the net, the Canadian played aggressively to consolidate in the second game.

The Americans did their best to close the gap, but Routliffe crafted a winner to settle the fourth game and firmly establish the lead.

In the sixth game, tensions were high. There was a long rally that ended with a glorious lob from Kenin. On serve, Dabrowski was impressive, clocking two aces in a row to take the game.

The next four points were enough for Dabrowski and Routliffe to seize the first set 6-4.

Rough ride

In the second, Kenin and Mattek-Sands quickly found their footing and capitalized on a few errors by Dabrowski and Routliffe. With the crowd firmly behind them, the US team secured four straight games to get up 5-1.  

Then, Kenin racked up spectacular volleys and winners, catching Dabrowski and Routliffe totally off guard. 

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The atmosphere was tense as Mattek-Sands served for the set. At 30-40, Dabrowski showed her tremendous talent with some impressive volleys to orchestrate a comeback.  

On serve, Dabrowski and Routliffe managed to extend the set with a sprint to return by Gabriela and first-rate volley by Erin. Routliffe’s fantastic backhand down the line gave her team the momentum to win a third straight game. 

On serve, Erin got things back to 5-5 in no time, but that didn’t dampen the Americans’ spirits as they headed into the tiebreak.

Dabrowski and Routliffe didn’t get off to the start they’d hoped for and let the first five points slip. Though they dug deep to produce three straight points, it was too little, too late. With a perfect lob, Mattek-Sands forced a match-tiebreak.

Decision time 

It all came down to the final set: the first team to 10 points would be crowned the Miami Open champions. In the first six points, the teams went 3-3. 

Reenergized, Mattek-Sands got the crowd on its feet as she hit a smash that inspired Kenin to close out the point. Then, an amazing return by Mattek-Sands locked in a four-point lead. 

Within a point of the title, Kenin missed a routine shot at the net. Unfortunately, Dabrowski did the same on the next point to hand the Americans three championship points. 

Dabrowski and Routliffe never stopped fighting and won the next three points to take things to 9-9. 

But Bethanie Mattek-Sands raised her game again with a perfect volley. The Americans sealed the deal on their fourth match point, at the outcome of a hard-fought battle. 

It was a second title for Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Sofia Kenin, who won the WTA 500 Abu Dhabi Open back in February. They were actually the first alternates in Miami after Marie Bouzkova and Sara Sorribes Tormo withdrew.