World number 52 Shelby Rogers caused the first major upset of the 2017 Australian Open with a dominant 6-3, 6-1 win over fourth seed Simona Halep. The win marks the highest ranked player Rogers has ever beaten while Halep's struggles in Melbourne continue, this defeat marking her fourth opening round exit in the last six years.
Rogers takes first set with fearless hitting
Both players came out striking the ball well and it was Halep who was making an impression on Rogers' serve, taking her to deuce in the opening game and creating a break chance in the third game, duly saved by the American for a 2-1 lead.
As the set progressed, the momentum shifted as it was now Rogers who was making an impact on serve as she had three break chances in the fourth game, all saved by Halep. The Romanian wasn't as fortunate in the sixth game when the American set up break point with a sharp forehand winner and on her third chance, took the initiative and broke for a 4-2 lead after Halep netted an easy forehand.
After consolidating the break, Rogers had two opportunities on the Halep serve to close out the set, but the former French Open finalist dug deep to hold. With her first couple of chances to win the set gone, Rogers now was tasked with trying to serve out the set and she did so expertly, holding to love to take a one-set lead.
Rogers intensifies pressure, blows Halep away to complete the upset
As the second set began, it was the Romanian who was searching for answers. Each player held to 15 before Rogers was back on the front foot, breaking in the third game for a 2-1 lead as Halep's backhand was well over the baseline.
The weight of Rogers' shots were taking their toll on Halep and she dropped serve again in the fifth game when the American blasted a forehand winner to take a 4-1 lead.
With the outcome no longer in doubt, Rogers closed the match out in style with a final break, Halep's forehand finding the bottom of the net off of another powerful Rogers forehand.
Rogers talks about her huge victory
Speaking about her win, Rogers said: "I think I played great today, trying to be aggressive going out there. My game plan worked. Just move forward, hit your shots, be really aggressive."
She added, "When I'm doing that, I am playing well. Very happy with how I did today."
Rogers is used to the challenge of playing higher ranked players early in Slams: "I have had some tough draws in the slams, so I'm kind of used to that, playing the seeds and playing big matches right off the bat," she said in her post-match press conference.
Concluding her interview, the winner said: "But it's always fun. You know you're going to play on a good court. You know you're going to get the atmosphere."