American Shelby Rogers staged a comeback for the ages, shocking world number one Ash Barty 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(5) on Saturday in the third round of the U.S. Open.
The 43rd-ranked Rogers recovered from a 5-2 deficit in the third set to push the affair into a tiebreak, securing the biggest upset of the tournament thus far in front of an electric New York crowd inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I just tried to fight for every point. That’s so cliche, I’m sorry. You guys were awesome. I didn’t want to leave,” said Rogers.
“I just said you know, make balls, try to stay in this match, can’t get any worse, you lost to her every time. So, try something different.”
There were early signs of trouble for tournament favourite Barty, who handed Rogers a break with four double faults in the third game and got fewer than half of her first serves in as she committed 17 unforced errors during the first set.
The Wimbledon champion found her form in the second set, getting a critical break in the fourth game with a forehand winner and again converting on break point in the sixth as Rogers whacked the ball into the net.
Up two breaks in the final set, Barty appeared poised to walk away with the win but couldn’t hang on as her stellar 2021 crashed to an end.
An astonished Rogers held her hands to her face as she clinched the match, defeating Barty for the first time in six meetings.
“I was trying to stay in the point longer than Ash. She was handling my pace really well tonight. I felt like the harder I hit the ball, the better she hit,” said Rogers, the only American woman remaining in the tournament.
It was the second major upset of the women’s tournament at Flushing Meadows after 18-year-old Leylah Fernandez defeated four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka on Friday.
Rogers will face Britain’s teen phenom Emma Raducanu in the fourth round.
Pliskova aces third-round challenge
Fourth-seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova rocketed 20 aces past third-round foe Ajla Tomljanovic to win 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday, keeping her bid for a maiden major title on track at the U.S. Open.
The Wimbledon runner-up had 20 winners in the first set and fended off all five break point opportunities as a handful of costly errors from Tomljanovic, including a double fault in the sixth game to hand Pliskova the break, hampered the Australian’s efforts.
Pliskova didn’t drop a single first-serve point in the second set, closing out the affair in an hour and 11 minutes at the Flushing Meadows Grandstand with a trio of aces in the final game.
Pliskova, who dug out a tense, three-set match over American Amanda Anisimova in the second round, next faces either Varvara Gracheva or Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, both from Russia.