Saturday, March 2, 2024

2021 US Open: American Shelby Rogers upsets top-seeded Ashleigh Barty to reach quarterfinals

American Shelby Rogers came into her US Open third-round matchup with Australia’s Ashleigh Barty as a steep underdog in more ways than one. Not only was Barty the world’s top-ranked player, but she also defeated the 43rd-ranked Rogers in their past five meetings, four of those coming this year. 

All that changed when it mattered most. 

Rogers shook off a second-set loss to upset Barty 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5) in the US Open’s third round on Saturday. The win was Rogers’s second over a top-five opponent and first over a top-ranked player. 

What changed between their previous five meetings and this one? 

“I’m not sure I can [explain it],” said Rogers, the lone American woman left in the US Open, after the win. “I just said make balls try to stay in this match, it can’t get any worse. You’ve lost to her every time. Try something different.”

This is the second consecutive day in which a highly-ranked women’s player fell from the US Open. On Friday, defending US Open champion Naomi Asoka shockingly fell to the 18-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez, forcing her to question her immediate future in the game. 

Rogers, who’s now 13-7 all-time in the US Open, has pulled off an impressive upset in the US Open before. The 28-year-old knocked out the sixth-seeded Petra Kvitova in the 2020 tournament’s Round of 16, a win that gave Rogers her first US Open quarterfinals appearance. 

Though Rogers has appeared in two Grand Slam quarterfinals, she hasn’t advanced farther than that. She hopes to do so for the first time against the 18-year-old Emma Raducanu in Round 4. 

“I’m just so excited to be moving on to the next round,” Rogers said.

The United Kingdom’s Raducanu is one of three 18-year-olds left standing in this year’s US Open. Fernandez joins her on the women’s side while Carlos Alcaraz — who stunned Stefanos Tsitsipas in Round 3 — is battling on the men’s side. 

With attention shifting toward her upcoming meeting with Raducanu, Rogers is doing her best to bask in the moment. 

“Oh, come on, Pam,” Rogers laughingly said to ESPN’s Pam Shriver after the topic of her next match arose. 

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