New Zealander Erin Routliff and her Canadian doubles partner were eliminated from the women’s tennis season finals in Mexico on Monday after losing in the marathon semi-finals.
Rotliff and Gabriella Dabrowski overcame a one-set deficit and fell behind 4-1 in the second set before losing 6-1, 6-7, 10-6 to American Nicole Melichar-Martinez and Australian Eileen Perez.
It was a battle between two groups that were the lowest-seeded in the eight-team tournament in the lucrative season-ending tournament, but they defied expectations by progressing through the group stage.
Seventh-seeded Rotliff and Dabrowski did not drop a set against higher-ranked opponents, including a memorable upset of top-seeded Americans Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula.
However, they started slowly in the semifinals against eighth-seeded opponents who did not give up a single break point in the first set.
Rotliff and Dabrowski broke the first break of serve midway through the second set and the momentum seemed to have swung when they forced a tiebreak, which they won easily 7-1.
However, they were unable to go any further in the third set tiebreak, trailing throughout to lose a match that lasted an hour and 37 minutes.
However, Routliff’s doubles ranking will rise inside the top 10 when it is updated this week, reflecting an impressive run of results since the 28-year-old tied with Dabrowski midway through the year, when she finished 104th.
The pair won the US Open in New York two months ago, with Routliffe becoming the first New Zealand woman to win a Grand Slam title in 44 years.
They went on to reach the final of the WTA 1000 in Guadalajara and won the Zhengzhou Open in China to book a place in the hard court event in Cancun, where Rotliff became the first New Zealander to qualify for a WTA Finals.
Pegula defeated US Open champion Gauff 6-2, 6-1 on Sunday to qualify for the singles match, where she will face world number one Aryna Sabalenka or Iga Swiatek in the next round.
In the first all-American semifinal at the WTA Finals since the league system was reintroduced in 2003, Pegula converted six of her 10 break point opportunities and dropped serve just once during the 60-minute encounter.
In the other semi-final, Swiatek faced top seed Sabalenka of Belarus, with the Pole leading 2-1 in the first set before the match, which could determine the top seed’s world ranking at the end of the year, was abandoned overnight due to rain. .
If Sabalenka wins the ATP Finals, she will end the year as world No. 1, while Swiatek, the world No. 2 and Grand Slam winner, will need to win the title to regain the top spot from the Australian Open champion.