Rome | Errani & Paolini lift Italian doubles trophy

Sara Errani & Jasmine Paolini delighted their home crowd at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on Sunday when they pipped Coco Gauff & Erin Routliffe at the post to snatch the Italian Open Doubles title.

I'm still here. It's not easy, physically, but I'm really happy. I'm enjoying it and this is the most important thing. I'm having fun and we're winning, so everything is going great.  There will be tough moments, but I've passed tough moments and I'm still here. Sara Errani

Errani first won the doubles title here in Rome 12 years ago, and the 37-year-old has now triumphed again at the Foro Italico alongside 28-year-old Paolini.

“I don’t know how we won in the end,” Errani said, still stunned at their come-back from 8-6 down in the match tiebreak, winning 4 consecutive points to beat Gauff & Routliffe.

“The crowd was great, of course,” Paolini said. “It was great to play in front of them, to play in Italy and win the title, it’s special. They are so excited and it’s really nice.”

The unseeded Italian pair capped off their 4th upset win of the tournament, beating American Gauff & Routliffe from New Zealand, the No 3 seeds, 6-3 4-6 [10-8], in the final after an hour and 28 minutes.

Earlier, they had taken out American Nicole Melichar-Martinez & Ellen Perez from Australia, the No 2 seeds, in the 1st-round, and followed up with further upset wins over Ukrainian Lyudmila Kichenok & Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, the 6th seeds, and Caroline Dolehide and Desiree Krawczyk, the American No 8 seeds, in the semi-finals.


Coco Gauff & Erin Routliffe came from a set down to send the match into a deciding breaker against Sara Errani & Jasmine Paolini on Sunday in Rome

© Dan Istitene/Getty Images

On Sunday, in the final, Errani served for the first set at 5-2, and held a set point when the game went to deuce, but the deciding point was saved by Routliffe, who put the ball away with a smash at the net.

In the next game, on Gauff’s serve, the 20-year old American miscued and found herself down 15-40, then, on the next point, her forehand went long to cede the set.

At 30-30 and deuce in the 7th game of the second, Gauff and Errani had a lengthy crosscourt exchange from the ad side in which the American steadily overpowered the Italian to gain the crucial break, which Routliffe consolidated in the next game.

Although Paolini saved 2 set points, Gauff held both her nerve and her serve to send the match into a third set match tiebreak.

Gauff & Routliffe raced out to a 4-1 lead in the breaker, and, at the second change of ends, they were up 7-5, a lead that they extended to 8-6, but the Italians then went on a late charge, and held a match point at 9-8 on the American’s serve.

The parochial crowd, who had cheered a Gauff double-fault earlier in the breaker, let out another huge roar when the American’s first serve found the net, and an inopportune but inevitable double followed, sending the Italian pair into a celebratory victory lap in front of their adoring fans.

It was a tough way for Gauff & Routliffe to lose the final, especially since they had played so well together in their first tournament as a team, but, at this level, it all comes down to a few key points, and, spurred on by the local support, Errani & Paolini had more of them going their way.


Sara Errani & Jasmine Paolini came from behind in the match tiebreak to snatch the title from the grasp of Coco Gauff & Erin Routliffe

© Dan Istitene/Getty Images

The Italian pair hope to play together at the Olympics in Paris, and this win will surely boost their confidence.

Errani has taken Paolini under her win as a friend and mentor over the last two seasons.

“The tour is not easy,” Errani told WTA Insider recently. “To have somebody near, some friends, to spend the time and enjoy more the day by day, it helps a lot.

“In singles, in doubles, it’s not easy to do this life alone. So to have the opportunity to share it with a friend and to speak in the days and go to dinner, have fun, it’s very important.”

She reflected on her own remarkable journey back to the winner’s circle, saying her passion for the sport was the reason for her longevity.

A French Open singles finalist, Errani reached a career-high of No 4 in singles 14 years ago, and is a former World No 1 in doubles, who has won all 4 majors and an Olympic Gold medal in the discipline.

With 9 singles titles and now 30 doubles titles to her name, Errani is the leading Italian player with the highest number of WTA titles.

Alongside Roberta Vinci, the Italians ruled the doubles circuit from 2012 to 2014, winning all 4 Grand Slams at least once during that span.

“I’m still here,” Errani said. “It’s not easy, physically, but I’m really happy. I’m enjoying it and this is the most important thing. I’m having fun and we’re winning, so everything is going great.

“There will be tough moments, but I’ve passed tough moments and I’m still here.”


Doubles champions Sara Errani & Jasmine Paolini pose with runners-up Coco Gauff & Erin Routliffe and their trophies after the final

© Dan Istitene/Getty Images

Meanwhile, Routliffe’s time in Rome is a good confidence boost ahead of playing in Strasbourg this week, and then the French Open with Canadian Leylah Fernandez, as she continues to become more comfortable on the clay.

Gauff, however, has reportedly decided to skip the doubles event in Paris, as her usual partner, 30-year old Jessica Pegula, is recovering from an injury and may not be fit enough to play at Roland Garros at all.

This, no doubt, is a disappointment for Gauff, but it leaves the young American to focus on the singles at a major where the World No 3 holds a good record, having reached the quarter-finals in each of the last 3 editions at Roland Garros, while her best outing came in 2022, when she finished as the runner-up after losing in the final to the current World No 1, Iga Swiatek, 6-1 6-3.

The main draw of the second Grand Slam of the year starts on Sunday, 26 May, with qualifying rounds being played this week.


The women's doubles final was watched by a capacity crowd on the center court at Foro Italico on Sunday

© Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

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