Rogers’ epic comeback stuns No.1 Barty in US Open third round

No.43 Shelby Rogers rallied from a double-break down in the final set to upend World No.1 Ashleigh Barty’s quest for a US Open title.

Shelby Rogers Ashleigh Barty US Open USTA

NEW YORK – Shelby Rogers kept the home hopes alive at the US Open, as the Charleston native manufactured a stunning third-set comeback to stun No.1 Ashleigh Barty 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, the 28-year-old played a disciplined match to earn her first win in six matches against the World No.1, 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.

In their fifth meeting in the 2021 season alone, Rogers was looking to tally her first win over the Australian. Rogers had reason to believe an upset was possible. Rogers had played 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. On the green clay of 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.”

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 range on her serve and off the ground – the Wimbledon champion hit 17 unforced errors in the opening set – 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.”- Shelby Rogers

Barty immediately righted the ship in the second set. After coming through two tight service games to hold, Barty broke Rogers for a 3-1 lead and never looked back. After hitting 17 unforced errors in the first set, Barty hit just 7 in the second set, while firing 13 winners. As she recognized Rogers opting for a more defensive gameplan, Barty found her range and rhythm, finding good purchase when she patiently built points and extended rallies. 

“In the second and third, she definitely raised her level, as she does,” Rogers said. “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.”

Turning Point: Barty continued her progress through the final set, building a 5-2, double-break lead. But as the World No.1 stood just four points from the Round of 16, the unforced errors began to creep in again. Serving at 5-3, 15-0, Barty misfired on three consecutive unforced errors – a forehand, a backhand, and a double-fault – and Rogers broke as Barty mishit yet another forehand at 30-40. 

After Rogers hold from 30-all in the next game by out-rallying Barty with a forehand winner and then closing with an unreturned serve, the partisan crowd on Arthur Ashe Stadium were on their feet. Feeding off their energy and buoyed by Barty’s failed attempt to close out the match, Rogers doubled down on her defensive efforts. As Barty tried to serve out the match for a second time at 5-4, Rogers made her intentions known, chasing down every ball and baiting Barty to go for less margin than she was comfortable with. 

As Barty served at deuce, Rogers won one of the longest rallies of the match – an 18-shot all-court exchange – that ended as Barty misfired a forehand. On her second break point of the game, Rogers converted, fending off a 107 m.p.h first serve. Barty misfired on another forehand off the return and the comeback was on. Rogers had leveled to 5-5.

After an exchange of holds at 30, Barty and Rogers readied for the deciding tiebreak. Barty came into the match with a 14-2 record in three-set matches this season, while Rogers was 4-8. The tense tiebreak rolled along on serve, with Rogers coming up with the defensive answers to Barty’s craft. Serving at 1-2, Rogers fended off a series of biting Barty backhand slices down the line to get the better of the No.1 in a 19-shot rally. In fact, Rogers would win all three points in the tiebreak that lasted over 10 shots, reversing the trend that saw Barty get the match on her terms in the second set. 

At 5-5 in the tiebreak, Barty finally blinked. Unable to summon her formidable first serve, Barty missed a forehand off a driven forehand return from Rogers to give the American the first match point of the night. With the biggest win of her career on her racquet, Rogers found a 105 m.p.h first serve wide that Barty could not get back. After 2 hours and 8 minutes, Rogers’ look of complete disbelief said it all. 

Source: WTA Tour