Rogers upsets Kvitova, continuing breakout French Open run

May 27, 2016 09:54 AM

By Ashley Marshall,

With her hands covering her face and her racquet falling to the clay, Shelby Rogers stood on Court 2 in an almost temporary state of joyous disbelief at what she had accomplished.

When the French Open began on Sunday, few people would have expected Rogers to be among the list of Americans still in contention for a title heading into the middle weekend of the tournament. But here she is, the first U.S. player into the fourth round in Paris.

No. 19 seed Sloane Stephens was still to play on Friday, and world No. 1 Serena Williams, ninth-seeded Venus Williams and No. 15 Madison Keys could join her in the final 16 on Saturday, but Day 6 was all about Rogers, who is quickly earning a giant-killing reputation in the French capital.

The world No. 108 continued her breakout run at Roland Garros on Friday, dispatching 10th-seeded Czech Petra Kvitova, 6-0, 7-6(3), 6-0, to reach the final 16 of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career. It was her fourth career victory over a Top 20 player, following her 2014 wins over Genie Bouchard, Sara Errani and Carla Suarez Navarro.

The South Carolina native has run the gauntlet of higher-ranked players in the first week of the tournament, rallying to beat No. 17 seed Karolina Pliskova in the first round, defeating world No. 47 Elena Vesnina in Round 2 and upsetting Kvitova on Friday.

Another seed, No. 25 Irina Camelia Begu of Romania, waits in the round of 16, but Rogers is playing some of the best tennis of her life and certainly has nothing to lose despite a place in the quarterfinals of the year’s second major on the line.

The 23-year-old has won almost as many matches at the French Open this week (three) as she had in her nine previous trips to Grand Slam events (four). She reached the third round of the US Open last summer as a qualifier, but wins over wild card Sachia Vickery and Kurumi Nara don’t carry the same kind of gravitas as one over Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion, former world No. 2 and 2012 French Open semifinalist.

Rogers’ run in Paris will move her back inside the Top 80 when the next rankings are released. Should she beat Begu on Sunday, she will eclipse her personal-best ranking of No. 70 and be on the verge of a Top 50 spot.

Elsewhere on Day 6, No. 15 seed John Isner rebounded to defeat Teymuraz Gabshvili of Russia, 7-6(9), 4-6, 2-6, 6-4, 6-2, to set up a fourth-round match with second-seeded Andy Murray of Great Britain. But Jack Sock fell to Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain in five sets, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, and No. 19 seed Sloane Stephens lost to Tsvetana Pironkoa in straight sets.