Rogers eyes lofty goal following breakout run in Paris

June 9, 2016 08:44 AM

By Ashley Marshall,

Fresh off her breakout run to the quarterfinals of the French Open, Shelby Rogers hopes the momentum can catapult her to her ultimate goal: being the best player in the world.

The 23-year-old native of Charleston, S.C., became an overnight sensation on the red clay of Paris last week, toppling seed after seed on her way to the final eight of the second Grand Slam event of the year. Climbing from No. 108 in the world rankings to a career-best No. 60, Rogers said she is buoyed by the continued growth of young American players as she sets her sights on achieving even bigger goals over the summer.

“There's a lot of us Americans that are doing super well, and we're all kind of pushing each other,” Rogers said on a conference call from Europe on Wednesday. “I think it's a really amazing thing to be a part of.”

Rogers is currently one of 14 American women in the Top 100. That is the most of any country, ahead of Germany (nine), Russia (seven) and Italy and the Czech Republic (five each).

“We can laugh and have a good time, and that sort of friendly competition is really a great thing for us,” Rogers added of the U.S. contingent. “It's a very positive thing but helps all of us and pushes us all. We generally want each other to do well, and when we see each other doing well, we want to do well ourselves. So it's a really great thing to be a part of, and I'm so happy to be in that group with them.”

Rogers, who had only been past the second round of a major tournament once – at last year’s US Open, where she reached the third round – prior to competing at Roland Garros earlier this month, scored four consecutive wins over Top 50 players before losing to eventual champion Garbine Muguruza in a hard-fought two-setter, 7-5, 6-3.

Those victories – over No. 10 seed Petra Kvitova, No. 19 Karolina Pliskova, No. 25 Irina-Camelia Begu and world No. 49 Elena Vesnina – have given the young right-hander confidence that she can take her game to the next level.

“I was feeling really good about my serve during the French Open. It got me out of some tough situations,” Rogers said. “Like against Pliskova, [I] had an ace on match point, which was a really cool thing, so just that confidence from the serving, especially going onto the grass where you have to have a really big server's mentality. It's all about holding your serve, trying to get a look at a break. So I think that'll be very important.

“At the beginning of the year, my goal was to make it into the Slams this summer, so I definitely reset those goals. I'd like to finish the year Top 75 for sure. Top 50 would be amazing. So I'm definitely trying to be realistic but still push myself at the same time and just try to keep the momentum going this year.”

With the clay-court season now behind her, Rogers will turn her attention to the six-week grass-court season, which culminates at Wimbledon in the middle of July. From there, she’ll embark on the North American hard-court swing leading up to the US Open. As part of the preparation for a deep run in New York, Rogers announced this week that she will play in the Connecticut Open, the final event in the Emirates Airline US Open Series, as well as her first full season competing for the San Diego Aviators in Mylan World TeamTennis.

“I think the most important thing is being consistent throughout the year,” said Rogers. “Not having just a couple great tournaments, but being able to have a lot of great tournaments throughout the year and keep your results pretty consistent week in and week out. I think that's a huge thing.

“I think it's important for me to continue to focus on my body and stay healthy because that's been something that's hurt me in the past, injuries, stuff like that, so I definitely want to keep a huge focus on that. I think everyone's goal is to be No.1. … I'm trying to do everything I can to get to the top, and that's where I want to play. That's what I've wanted to do since I was a little girl.”