For the first time in her career, Shelby Rogers has reached the quarterfinals at her home Slam, the US Open, after a remarkable victory over sixth seed Petra Kvitova. Neither had dropped a set in reaching the fourth round and, with both in good form, a close contest was expected. But Kvitova had the edge in terms of experience. She was making her 20th appearance in the fourth round at a Grand Slam, whereas Rogers was playing in the last 16 at a Major for only the second time.
Nor did the American come into the match with a great record in New York. Previously, her best finish at the US Open was reaching the round of 32 twice, in 2015 and 2017, whilst Kvitova has twice made the quarterfinals in New York. But Rogers’ only previous appearance in the last 16 at a Major, which came at the French Open in 2016, saw her beat none other than Kvitova to reach the quarterfinals and she repeated the feat in New York, saving four match points in a 7-6 3-6 7-6 win.
It was a thrilling contest between two players who are at their tennis on faster courts like those at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, thanks to their powerful serves and booming groundstrokes. But in the end, it was Rogers who held her nerve, clinching the win in a nail-biting tiebreak. But standing between the American and a place in the last four is the fourth seed Naomi Osaka, who won the title in New York in 2018.
Osaka has been battling a hamstring injury, which forced her to pull out of the Cincinnati Masters final just over a week ago, but the Japanese has looked formidable so far at the US Open. Her win over Anett Kontaveit in the fourth round was particularly impressive, with the Japanese taking the 14th seed apart in straight sets. Make no mistake, Osaka will be Rogers’ toughest opponent to date in New York and the American will enter their quarterfinal as the underdog.
But Rogers has played a supreme tournament and will surely be full of confidence. She may be ranked 93rd in the world, but she has made light of that relatively lowly ranking and has now scored two top 20 wins in New York, having also beaten Kazakhstan’s world #11 Elena Rybakina in the second round. And Rogers may be able to ride a wave of American success in the women’s draw this year, with the Stars and Stripes making a strong showing so far in New York.
Lexington champion Jennifer Brady, who thrashed former-champion Angelique Kerber in the fourth round, has also secured her spot in the last eight, whilst Sofia Kenin and Serena Williams, seeded second and third respectively, will battle for their place in the quarterfinals on Monday. Rogers, however, will surely be focused on the task at hand. She will need to be against the dangerous Osaka. But Rogers has sprung two shocks already at the US Open. Don’t be surprised if she masterminds a third.
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