Women’s top seed Ash Barty suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of American Shelby Rogers, losing 6-2, 1-6, 7-6(5) in the U.S. Open third round Saturday night in New York.
Rogers, ranked 43rd in the world, started the match in fine form with an early break en route to wrapping up the first set. Australia’s world No. 1 battled back strongly in the second to push the match into a deciding set.
Barty started the third with a break but was broken herself twice as she looked to serve out the match.
Rogers refused to roll over and forced the match to a tie-break where she held her nerve to claim a tight win.
The duo had previously met five times with the Australian winning each time. Despite those defeats, Rogers only had good things to say about Barty as she praised her encouraging nature and ability to deal with real adversity this year.
“She is one of the most professional people I’ve ever met in my life, as well as a good person, a funny individual,” Rogers said postmatch. “She’s super down to earth. I mean, she is one of my favorite people.
“I was joking before, every time I lost to her, I can’t be mad because she’s such a nice person. It’s like, man, she just kicked my butt, but then she’s like, ‘Oh, you’re going to find it one day.’ She’s always encouraging to everybody around her. She brings up the energy wherever she goes.
“I can’t say how much respect I have for her and what a great representative she is for women’s tennis.
“I want to speak to what she’s done this season. I think a lot of people are taking it for granted. She hasn’t been able to go home since February. That’s insane. I mean, she’s resetting on the road. She’s worked through some injuries on the road. She’s won five titles. She’s remained No. 1. I mean, this girl is everything every player wants to be.
“Honestly, I could do this for another 20 minutes. She’s one of my favorite people, so anytime I get to give her a hug, I try to take the moment.”
Barty herself showed real grace in defeat, admitting losing to Rogers didn’t hurt so much because of the quality person she was.
“It sucks in tennis that there’s a winner and loser every single day, but sometimes you don’t mind losing to certain people,” Barty said.
“I think Shelby in a sense of her personality and her character, she’s certainly one of those for me.
“The last six months have been a roller coaster. I think back to the very first match that I played on this trip. I was 5-2 down in the third set in the first round of Miami. Tennis has a funny way of evening things out, doesn’t it?”
An 18-year-old sensation in the form of Emma Raducanu now awaits Rogers in a fourth-round clash early next week, with the qualifier looking to continue her own impressive U.S. Open run.
Barty has never won a U.S. Open title in singles. Her best performance at the competition has been the fourth round in 2018 and 2019.
The 25-year-old has, however, earned doubles success in the tournament. She won the title with CoCo Vandeweghe in 2018.
Barty claimed her first Wimbledon title in July this year and also picked up a bronze medal in mixed doubles at the recent Tokyo Olympics.
The Australian revealed in July that her Wimbledon success was all the more special considering the odds of her being fit in time for the tournament. She was forced to withdraw from the French Open in May because of a hip injury.
“They kept a lot of cards close to their chest and didn’t tell me a lot of the odds, didn’t tell me a lot of the information that they’d got from other specialists,” Barty said. “I think them not telling me that just proved how much we were up against the odds. There weren’t too many radiologists in Australia who had seen my injury. In a sense, it was a two-month injury.
“Being able to play here at Wimbledon was nothing short of a miracle.
“I think now to be playing pain-free through this event was incredible. Certainly now chatting to them it looked a lot less likely than I felt statistically. I think it’s been an incredible month.”