American Shelby Rogers kept her US Open hopes alive as the 28-year-old made a stunning third-set comeback to defeat world No.1 Ashleigh Barty of Australia 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(5) in the third round to advance to her second straight Round of 16 in New York.
A quarterfinalist last year, Rogers played a disciplined match to earn her first win in six matches against Barty, coming back from a double-break down in the final set to steal the win. The victory is Rogers’ first over a top 10 player since defeating Serena Williams last year in Lexington and her first-ever win over a reigning world No.1.
Rogers had run Barty close twice this year, taking her to a match-tiebreak at the Yarra Valley Classic in February before losing 7-5, 2-6, 10-4. In Charleston, their Round of 16 duel came down to the wire, with Barty edging it 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4.
“I think tonight going on the court I told myself I didn’t want to lose the same way I lost the last five times against her,” Rogers said.
“I just tried to do things a little bit differently. In the first set I mixed in some high balls, I was super patient with her slice because she’s not going to miss one very often. I know that very well,” she said.
There were early signs of trouble for Barty, who fired four double-faults in her second service game to give Rogers the early break at 2-1. With Barty struggling to find her rhythm on her serve, Rogers cruised to break Barty twice and seal the first set 6-2 after 32 minutes. She did not face a break point in the set.
“I think what I’ve learned most from her is that she’s No.1 for a reason. It was going to take everything I had tonight to beat her. I gave everything I had and got the win.”
“In the second and third (Sets), she definitely raised her level, as she does,” Rogers told wtatennis.com. “I mean, she’s the No.1 player in the world for a reason. But I started wanting to hit the ball a little bit harder, find some winners if I could. That’s the tennis I like to play. That’s what she wants me to do. She wants to redirect and finesse me around the court, wait for me to miss.”
Rogers will face 18-year-old Emma Raducanu, the British qualifier who is into her second straight Round of 16 at a major, having done so at Wimbledon as well. Raducanu, 18, dismissing Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain 6-0, 6-1 in one hour and 10 minutes.
“She’s fearless,” Rogers said, when asked about facing the Brit. “She is playing very well and she’s inspired. It’s going to be a battle. I am ready for it.
“It’s really cool to see the younger generation coming up in this tournament, getting some big wins. It’s really impressive. I’m going to have to bring my best tennis again in a different way I think, though. That’s the cool thing about tennis, you have to adjust every single time and make a new strategy.”
French Open runner-up Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the No.14 seed, too entered the Round of 16 in an all-Russian clash, defeating Varvara Gracheva 6-1, 6-4 in the third round.
The Russian will face No.4 Karolina Pliskova in the fourth round. The Czech defeated Ajla Tomljanovic in a clinical two sets.