US Open: Shelby Rogers saves match points to edge past Petra Kvitova
Image: Al Bello

Shelby Rogers reached the last eight of her home Grand Slam tournament on Sunday, saving four match points to defeat sixth seed Petra Kvitova and reach the last eight at the US Open.

In a high quality, gruelling contest out on the Louis Armstrong Stadium, Rogers and Kvitova exchanged blows in a contest that lasted over two and a half hours. Kvitova rallied from a set down and then a break down in the decider to hold three match points, though they were saved superbly by the American who eventually took the deciding set breaker to prevail 7-6(5), 3-6, 7-6(6) after over two and a half hours of play. 

This was not the first time that Kvitova and Rogers had met in a Grand Slam tournament. Their only previous meeting came at the French Open four years ago, with the American pulling off a shock three-set win to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. After seasons of injury issues the American had impressed on her way to the semifinal of the Top Seed Open, beating Serena Williams on her way to the last four, and would have been brimming with confidence heading into this clash against the two-time Wimbledon champion.

Kvitova missed four match point opportunities (Image: Al Bello)
Kvitova missed four match point opportunities (Image: Al Bello)

Rogers looked sharp early on, holding a break point in the opening game of the match, and she would later go on to seal the opening break of the set in the seventh game. However, she could not consolidate, with some ferocious ball striking from Kvitova helping her break back immediately.

The Czech was seemingly in the ascendancy after breaking back and was arguably the better player of the two, though errors cost her whenever she seemed to be making further inroads. Rogers was effectively gifted a 5-1 lead in the ensuing breaker and though the world number 12 fought back to 5-5 more errors from her racket handed the American the opening set.

The world number 93 had early break points in set two that she could not take advantage of, and saving those break points provided a clear boost to the sixth seed. Kvitova proceeded to break in the next game for a 3-1 lead, and found it easy to hold serve with less errors coming off her racket. The former world number two continued to dictate, and broke for a second time to force a decider.

Rogers is in a second Grand Slam quarterfinal (Image: Al Bello)
Rogers is in a second Grand Slam quarterfinal (Image: Al Bello)

After having been in charge of the decider Kvitova immediately fell behind in the decider, with Rogers saving break points to consolidate for a 2-0. The American’s lead did not last long however, with the Czech taking three straight games to get the clash back on serve. 

Having been unable to create any further opportunities to break, Rogers pulled out three of her best serves of the contest to save three match points down 4-5, and held two games later to force a deciding tiebreak. Kvitova held match point at 6-5 but double faulted, and two points later a missed return handed the American a famous victory.

Whilst it will be an agonizing defeat for Kvitova, who has only once won from a set down at Flushing Meadows and has only twice reached the last eight, full credit must go to Rogers for an incredibly gutsy display. It is simply a shame she could not have her home crowd in the stadium supporting her. 

Either 2018 champion and fourth seed Naomi Osaka or 14th seed Anett Kontaveit await in the last eight for Rogers, who will be hoping to reach a first major semifinal.