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September 6, 2021

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Nobody beats Shelby Rogers 6 times in a row

American Shelby Rogers was possibly searching for some inspiration when she watched a 41-year-old video of compatriot Vitas Gerulaitis before her third-round match against world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty on Saturday.

“And let that be a lesson to you all. Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row,” the former world No. 3 famously told reporters after beating Jimmy Connors in the semifinals of the January 1980 Masters.

That was Gerulaitis’ first win against Connors after losing 16 matches in a row against his fellow American.

Rogers was to play Australian Barty on Saturday for the sixth time in her career having lost all five previous meetings, including four in the 2021 season.

Things seemed to be following a similar pattern when the 28-year-old trailed 2-5 in the deciding third set but she then scripted one of the sport’s most incredible comebacks to force a tie-break and beat the two-time major winner from Australia 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (5).

“This morning I was watching a video of Vitas Gerulaitis when he said, ‘Nobody beats me 17 times in a row’. I was only at six, so,” Rogers said in her post-match interview on court before breaking into laughter.

Rogers is currently ranked 43rd in the world and many a time this season has seen her progress stalled at the hands of the gritty Australian, who has won five singles titles in 2021.

But the American decided to do things a bit differently at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday and it paid dividends.

“I guess I have to thank her for teaching me a lot of lessons,” Rogers, the only American left in the US Open women’s draw, told reporters before another round of laughter.

“I think I journal quite a bit, take notes on players, scout, things like this. Half my book is on Ash at this point, you know. It’s the same thing. She doesn’t miss a ball.

“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. That’s what it comes down to.”

Barty was disappointed but ready to put the defeat behind her and start planning for what comes next.

The reigning Wimbledon champion won 11 of 14 games after dropping the first set, was then broken twice while serving for the match and eventually dropped a shocker to Rogers.

“It’s never nice when you have a couple opportunities to serve out a match and can’t get it done. Six in the third is brutal, It’s a tough one to swallow,” she said.

“I found a way to really turn it in my favor and just wasn’t able to just quite finish off. It’s disappointing but we’ll move on.”

The 25-year-old Australian fell one round shy of matching her deepest US Open run. It’s the only Slam where she hasn’t reached the semifinals.

“I feel like the Slams you’re kind of building up to it and afterwards there’s a reset. We reset now. We go back to the drawing board, work out what we want to do for the rest of the season.”

Barty won titles this year at Miami, Melbourne, Stuttgart and Cincinnati as well as her second Grand Slam crown despite being away from her homeland since February. “The last six months have been a roller coaster,” she said. “I’m proud of myself and my team for all the efforts we’ve put in. It has been pretty incredible. I don’t think we could have asked for much more honestly. I wouldn’t change a thing.”


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