Rogers, Brady score upsets to lead home charge at US Open

New York (AFP) –

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Shelby Rogers fought off four match points to upset sixth seed Petra Kvitova and reach the US Open quarter-finals for the first time on Sunday.

The 27-year-old Rogers, who two years ago wondered if she would ever play again as she struggled to recover from knee surgery, battled into the last eight with a 7-6 (7/5), 3-6, 7-6 (8/6) defeat of Czech ace Kvitova in 2hr 40min.

It is only the second time in Rogers' decade-long career that she has advanced to the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam. She reached the last eight at the French Open in 2016.

Rogers, who will face either Japan's fourth seed Naomi Osaka or Estonia's Anett Kontaveit in the quarter-finals, said she hopes to draw on the memory of her defeat at Roland Garros in New York.

"It's been a while since I've been in the quarter-finals of a Slam," Rogers said. "It's nice to have those memories coming back, remember that time. It was a very special moment for me.

"Maybe it will help me a little bit. I'd like to do one, two better than I did last time at the French Open.

"It's nice to be back there. I told myself coming back after injury and quarantine, 'You can get back to where you've been before, you've done it, and go even farther.'"

- Fears for future -

Rogers' career was plunged into uncertainty in 2018 when she ruptured cartilage in her knee at Indian Wells. A difficult recovery left her fearing her promising career would be cut short.

"The low moment was six months after my surgery where I didn't think I'd be able to play," Rogers said. "I wasn't confident in my knee. I wasn't able to move like I thought I should. Here I am two years later as fit as I've ever been and moving really well."

Even though she started this year ranked at 174th in the world -- she is now ranked 93rd -- Rogers said she always thought of herself as a higher-ranked player.

"When I stepped on the court, I didn't see that number," she said. "I felt like I would get back to where I wanted to be if I just kept doing the things that I knew were right, stuck with the process."

Rogers' performance was the latest impressive showing from the US contingent in the women's singles at Flushing.

With Jennifer Brady upsetting Angelique Kerber earlier Sunday, and second seed Sofia Kenin and third seed Serena Williams playing in the fourth round on Monday, the United States could have as many as four women in the quarter-finals.

Brady, the 28th seed, steamrollered Kerber 6-1, 6-4, to reach her first Grand Slam quarter-final.

Brady said she had transformed her game this year by improving her physical and mental strength.

"I think I have improved on both aspects. I have gotten a lot fitter. I'm able to maintain my intensity from the beginning of the match all the way until the end," she explained.

Brady broke serve four times and smashed 25 winners against the 17th-seeded Kerber, the 2016 US Open champion.