Is Shelby Rogers Finally The 'Real Deal'? - UBITENNIS
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Is Shelby Rogers Finally The ‘Real Deal’?

Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper columnist James Beck takes a close look at the rise of Shlby Rogers at the this year’s Australian Open.

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Shelby Rogers (image via https://twitter.com/WTA)

Is now the time to buy into the possibility that the current Shelby Rogers is the “real deal” in women’s tennis?

 

I know, I sound like The Motley Fool stock market analyst or maybe one of your favorite insurance companies.

Of course, there is no real insurance that Rogers is headed for WTA Tour greatness just because the 28-year-old from Charleston, S.C., looks that way right now. More future stars such as Cori Gauff might be waiting right around the corner to block Rogers’ path, or even another injury can’t be ruled out.

But that’s the case with any potential star or bonafide superstar.

ROGERS’ DREAMS COULD BECOME REAL

Right now, Rogers might have to settle for a second round of 16 Grand Slam showing in the last six months (quarterfinals at the 2020 U.S. Open). That wouldn’t be too shabby considering the trip Down Under would be worth at least $320K and enough WTA Tour points to push Rogers inside the world’s top 50 women for a second time in her career.

That’s before Rogers takes on world’s No. 1 Ash Barty in the round of 16 at the Australian Open.

If Rogers happens to win this one, anything would be possible. A Grand Slam title? A check for $2.75 mllion?  A spot among the world’s top 15 women?

It’s worth a dream.

CHARLESTON GIRL HAS A CHANCE

Rogers knows she, at least, has a chance against Barty after taking the Aussie superstar to a match tiebreaker just a week ago during their long stay in Australia while trying to stay out of the way of Covid-19 or one of its variants.

“I will be excited not to play a third-set tiebreaker, because she (Barty) kicked my butt in that last time,” Rogers told the tennis world Saturday after “blowing kisses to no one” in Rod Laver.

“And we won’t have a Barty party in the stands, and that’s good for me, too.”

Rogers had just dispensed of 21st seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia by winning 11 of the last 14 games to claim a 6-4, 6-3 victory in the round of 32.

Barty also cruised to a 6-2, 6-4 win over 29th seed Ekaterina Alexandrova of Russia after a slow start.

ROGERS FEELS ‘INCREDIBLE’ GOING AGAINST BARTY

“She’s on fire. She’s playing free. She is such a talented girl,” Rogers said about Barty. “I’ll going to have to bring my best game, for sure.”

While several other players were coming down with injuries, Rogers pronounced, “I feel incredible. I’m missing the fans extra tonight. So excited to be playing well and moving on here.

“It’s so cool to be back here the last few weeks, and have all of the support and some sense of normalcy in tough situations.  I feel the support from home. All of my family and friends are watching . . . 

If they set their alarms. Some of them slept. I’ll forgive you guys.”

Of course, the Rogers-Kontaveit match was played in the middle of the night, Charleston time.

SHE HAD TO RALLY TO SET UP THE MEETING WITH BARTY

How did Rogers come back so far (down 4-1) against a player ranked as high as Kontaveit?

“I just brought in the margins a little bit. It’s a big court. You have a lot of space down here. I was this far (using her fingers to measure the difference) off in the first set going for my shots in the beginning. I thought that I was hitting clean and going for the right shots.

“Just adjusting my targets I set at the beginning and stay aggressive and move forward. And then I made a few more first serves, which helped.”

ROGERS WAS THE BIG HITTER AND SERVER

Rogers was hitting lights out in those last 14 games, much the same way she has been playing since her knee injury of three years ago that kept her off the tour for a full year. Just over four years ago, Rogers gained her career-best ranking of No. 49.

She served like the big hitter she is, hitting a solid percentage of her first serves after the slow start. She won nine of the 10 first serves she put into play in the second set.

Yes, Shelby Rogers looks capable of possibly beating the odds and soaring sky high.

James Beck has been the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. See his Post and Courier columns at postandcourier.com and search for James Beck.

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Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic win their sixth title this season in Rome

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Croatians Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic claimed their sixth title and their third ATP Masters 1000 of the season after a 6-4 7-6 (7-4) win over Jo Salisbury and Rajeev Ram. 

 

Mektic and Pavic have lifted their titles at the Antalya Open, Murray River Open in Melbourne, ABN AMRO World Tennis Championships in Rotterdam, the Miami Open and the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. They also finished runner-up at the Madrid Mutua Open. 

Mektic and Pavic were not able to convert a break point in the first game, but they broke serve in the fifth game after three consecutive return winners. 

The Croatian team served out for the first set in the 10th game. The second set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Mektic and Pavic raced out to a 6-0 lead, but Salisbury and Ram won four consecutive points to claw their way back to 4-6.  Mektic and Pavic won the tie-break on the fourth match point. “It feels great and and we are very happy with the way we played the whole tournament. We did not drop a set, so it showed how well we played throughout the week. It was a tough match. There were only a couple of chances in the first set before it became tighter in the second set from 6-0 to 6-4 in the tie-break. I hope we can keep going. The goal is to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin. I was hoping we’d have good results, but it has surprised me a little bit as we had not played together before this year”, said Pavic.

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Andy Murray Skips French Open To Focus On The Grass

The decision has been made after the Brit experienced some ‘discomfort’ during his time in Rome.

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has delayed his return to competitive tennis after deciding to not play any more tournaments on the clay this year.

 

The former world No.1 has confirmed that he will not be playing at the French Open, according to multiple British media sources. Murray’s decision comes less than a week after he was in Rome training with some of the Tour’s top players. During one of his practice sessions in the Italian capital, he had a hit with world No.1 Novak Djokovic who said afterwards he was impressed by the current form of the Brit.

“I was very happy to see him. I haven’t seen him in a while, and it was great to hit with him. I thought he played very well on the court,” Djokovic told reporters last week.
“He moves well considering it’s clay which is not the best surface for his hips. But considering what he has been through lately, I think it seems like he’s been feeling well on the court. That’s what he’s saying, and that’s what it appears on the court itself.”

It is understood that Murray experienced some discomfort in Rome where he participated in the doubles tournament with Liam Broady after receiving a last-minute entry. It is unclear as to where the pain is located and how serious it is. Although it has been deemed significant enough for him to decline a wildcard into next week’s Geneva Open and pass on the French Open where he would have possibly had to play in the qualifying draw.

Murray will now switch his focus to the grass ahead of Wimbledon. He is currently scheduled to next play at The Queen’s Club where he has a contract to play there for the rest of his career. The tournament will start on June 14th with Murray saying he is looking forward to playing in front of a British crowd again. Under current restrictions, Queen’s will welcome 25% of its 9000-spectator capacity.

“It’s been such a difficult time for everyone and it will be great to play in front of home fans in Britain again,” said five-time champion Murray. “The tournament at Queen’s has always meant a lot to me – it’s where I won my first ATP match, I’ve won the singles at Queen’s more than any other in my career, and I’ll never forget our doubles title in 2019. I can’t wait to get back out there.”

34-year-old Murray has played just 11 Tour matches since winning the European Open in Antwerp back in 2019. He is currently ranked 123rd in the world.

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Novak Djokovic battles past Lorenzo Sonego in epic Rome semifinal

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Novak Djokovic claimed a 6-3 6-7 (5-7) 6-2 win over Lorenzo Sonego in an epic semifinal to reach his career 10th final at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Djokovic went up a set and a break and held match points in the second set, but Sonego won the tie-break to send the match to the third set. Djokovic avenged his defeat against Sonego, who won their only previous head-to-head match in the Vienna semifinal. 

Djokovic set up a 56th clash against Rafael Nadal in a blockbuster final on Sunday.

Earlier today Djokovic came back from a set and a break down to beat Stefanos Tsitsipas 4-6 7-5 7-5 in the quarter final match, which was interrupted by rain on Friday. 

Djokovic won nine points more than Sonego in the first set. The Serbian player hit a service winner to hold serve at love. Sonego held his serve with a drop-shot winner in the second game before Djokovic held his serve in the third game with a forehand winner. 

Djokovic hit a deep return in the fourth game and earned a break after a forehand error from Sonego. The world number 1 player held serve with a drop-shot to consolidate the break in the fifth game. Sonego held serve in the sixth game at love. 

Djokovic did not face any break point in his next service games and held serve at 15 to seal the first set 6-3 with a forehand down the line winner after 34 minutes. 

Djokovic created eight break points in the 91-minute second set, but the first first ten games went on serve. 

Sonego faced a break point from 40-15 in the third game of the second set and fended it off with a service winner. The Italian 26-year-old player fired another service winner to hold serve for 2-1. 

Djokovic held serve at 15 in the fourth game and earned three break points at 3-3. Sonego saved the first two break points with smash winners and the third chance with a drop-shot. Djokovic hit an ace down the line to hold serve at love in the eighth game. Sonego saved two break points with his forehands to hold after three deuces for 5-4 in 10-minute marathon game. 

Djokovic fended off two set points in the 10th game and held with a service winner to draw level to 5-5 in another 10-minute game. The Serbian star broke serve in the 11th game with two winners at the net earning his chance to serve for the win. 

Sonego saved two match points in the 12th game when Djokovic served for the final at 6-5. and converted his second break point with a service winner to force the second set to the tie-break. 

Djokovic hit a forehand down the line winner to build up a 4-2 lead in the breaker before hitting a double fault. Sonego hit a backhand down the line winner to take a 5-4 lead. Sonego converted his fourth set point with a service winner to win a hard-fought tie-break 7-5 sending the match to the third set. 

Sonego raced to a 0-40 lead in Djokovic’s first service game and earned three break points in the first game of the third set, but he wasted them. Djokovic got the break at 15 in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead and consolidated it with a hold at 15 for 4-1. 

Djokovic created his second match point with a forehand winner at 5-2 and converted it to seal the win after Sonego sent a forehand into the net. 

“I have only myself to blame for not closing the match in two sets. At the end of the day, he is showing why he reached his first ATP Masters 1000 semifinals. He is a quality players. He is a quality player. It is not easy to play against him. Obviously he had the crowd behind him. It was an electric atmosphere out on there on the court”, said Djokovic. 

Djokovic will meet Nadal for the ninth time in Rome. Nadal and Djokovic have wn 14 of the past 16 editions of the Rome tournament. Nadal leads 5-3 in his previous Rome clashes against Djokovic. 

“I don’t have much time to recover. I played a lot of tennis. Hopefully I will have fresh legs because that’s what I definitely will need. It’s necessary in order to have a chance against Rafa. He also had some tough matches, obviously myself, with rain delays and everything that has happened today. Hopefully I will be fresh and I will give it all”, said Djokovic. 

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