Australian Open: Shelby Rogers upsets Simona Halep to reach the second round in Melbourne

In the first match in the Rod Laver Arena, Shelby Rogers shocked fourth seed Simona Halep, one of the favorites to lift the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Trophy. The Romanian was far from her best and received a medical timeout at the conclusion of the opening set.

Nonetheless, Rogers' groundstrokes were unbelievable in this match, and she completely outplayed the two-time quarterfinalist.

Rogers battles in the first set

Halep won the coin toss and elected to receive, and it proved to be a poor decision as the world number 52 came through a tough opening game that looked to be comfortable. The fourth seed got to deuce twice in this game but an ace out wide and a good serve out wide allowed Rogers to hold serve. Moreover, in the second game, Halep held to love in the second game to get on the scoreboard.

Once again, Rogers looked seemingly comfortable to hold serve easily stretching out to a 40-15 lead, however, Halep won three consecutive points on the trot in a 17-shot rally, followed by Rogers committing a backhand into the net, and a backhand winner on the second serve, followed by a forehand winner, handed Halep her first break point.

The fourth seed was unable to break as a forehand error and a backhand unforced error in the net, followed by a good serve out wide, gave Rogers a 2-1 lead at the first sit down.

In the fourth game, Halep's serve went wayward committing a forehand unforced error, handing Rogers two break points at 15-40. However, two forehand errors from Rogers' racquet, got Halep back to deuce. Once again, a forehand unforced error from Halep, allowed Rogers, the third chance to get the breakthrough but an ace down the T saved the third one. Following this was a second ace out wide from the Romanian, and a forehand unforced error, allowed Halep to level the match at 2-2.

It was a tough day at the office for Halep (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Getty Images)
It was a tough day at the office for Halep (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Getty Images)

The world number 52 began the fifth game with a forehand unforced error into the net, however, a timely serve out wide with a backhand winner, constructing a two-shot combo and a serve down the middle, gave the American a 30-15 lead. Halep came out on top in the longest rally of the match, 20 shots with a sweet forehand placed in the corner. The American continued her aggressive play and she closed out the game with a backhand winner to lead 3-2.

That hold of serve proved to be pivotal as in the following game, Rogers got the breakthrough, portraying powerful forehands, and in a game that lasted nearly a lengthy 10 minutes, a tame forehand unforced error in the net from Halep gave Rogers the first break of the match to lead 4-2.

Last year's French Open quarterfinalist kept up the momentum, starting the game with a forehand winner in the corner. Halep responded with an aggressive forehand of her own but a serve down the T, allowed Rogers to hold to 30, and lead 5-2.

The fourth seed had the task of serving to stay in the opening set, and it proved to be a difficult task. Rogers applied the pressure with a forehand volley winner at the net, and she returned Halep's serve which trickled over the net to lead 0-30. However, two good first serves from Halep leveled the game at 30-30 but a backhand error handed Rogers, the first set point of the match. In truth, the American should have capitalized as the sun was in Halep's eye, and a poor put away allowed the American to put the shot down the line, narrowly missing. 

Another, backhand unforced error from the Romanian's racquet handed Rogers a second set point, but Halep saved it with a service winner down the T, and she eventually held serve to force Rogers to serve out the opening set.

Rogers took the opening set in 46 minutes with a good unreturnable serve out wide to love.

Rogers cruises in the second set

Following the conclusion of the opening set, Halep received a medical timeout, and she kept on holding her left knee in between points. Nonetheless, she opened the second set with an easy hold of serve, and Rogers responded with an easy service game of her own.

More unforced errors continued to creep in the Romanian's game, and in the third game, Rogers broke Halep to lead 2-1. The American took a 30-0 lead with a fantastic 11-shot rally, finishing off the point with a forehand winner, with Halep stretched at the back of the court. However, Halep would win the next two consecutive points, applying some pressure on Rogers but the American consolidated the break with a good first serve out wide.

It was vital that Halep would hold serve in the next game, building a 30-15 lead with an ace down the T, despite holding a game point at 40-30,  Rogers would get the insurance break by punishing Halep's second serve with a forehand return winner.

Halep and Rogers shake hands at the net (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Getty Images)
Halep and Rogers shake hands at the net (Photo by Clive Brunskill / Getty Images)

The American started the sixth game of the second stanza with a backhand winner down the line in a 7 shot rally, an ace down the T and a forehand unforced error from Halep's racquet gifted Rogers a 5-1 lead.

An out-of-sorts, Halep was unable to serve to stay in the match as a backhand unforced error and a forehand error, handed Rogers the shock victory in 1 hour and 15 minutes in the Rod Laver Arena.

Match stats

Rogers was impressive on her first serve, winning 71 percent of the points on her first serve. The American also produced 26 winners to Halep's 18, and she had more unforced errors at 22 compared to Halep's 19. 

Halep failed to take advantage of the only break point chance, she created in the opening set allowing Rogers to settle.

Next for Rogers

The American missed last year's Australian Open, and she will be rewarded with a winnable tie in round two against Ashleigh Barty.