Wimbledon: Rogers Battles Past Sakkari

Rogers defeats Sakkari 7-5, 6-4 to reach Wimbledon 3rd round

Maria Sakkari, currently at a career-high ranking of #18, became the first Greek woman to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal and semifinal in the Open Era. Attempting to reach her first-ever grand slam final at Roland Garros, Sakkari held match point but lost 7-9 in the third to eventual champion, Barbora Krejcikova.

Perhaps that devastating loss led her to skip the grass court warm-up events, preparation she clearly needed following her straight sets loss to Rogers. Sakkari was hoping to equal her best performance at the All England Club by reaching the third round for the third time (2017, 2019). 

Shelby Rogers from the United States is currently ranked #43, a career high. She played two grass-court events prior to the Championships, losing in the first round in Berlin and the 4th round in Eastbourne. Like Sakkari, her best performance at SW19 was the third round (2017). This was their first tour level meeting.

Sakkari served first and despite facing deuce, held behind well-struck serves. Rogers had an easier time in her opening service game, holding to 15 for 1-1. Sakkari, unable to find her range off the ground, faced double break point following three unforced errors and dumped serve when she whiffed a forehand.

The twenty-eight-year-old from South Carolina consolidated the break for 3-1 with well-placed serves and blistering forehands. Although she missed 3/6 first serves, the 15th seed held to 30 for 2-3 with a fantastic crosscourt forehand.

Rogers was unable to maintain the lead as she committed multiple unforced errors including a double fault and dropped serve when her crosscourt forehand volley went wide.

Level at 3-3, Sakkari held at love for 4-3 with a spectacular inside-in forehand and forehand drop shot on consecutive points. Rogers, serving with new balls, held to 15 for 4-4 when her opponent netted a backhand approach.

Sakkari opened the 9th game with her first ace, but it was downhill from there as she donated her first double fault and dropped serve following another double fault, seven deuce, and three break points.

The American served for the set at 5-4 but could not close as Sakkari broke back with an incredible inside-out forehand return winner and crosscourt backhand on consecutive points.

Sakkari played an extremely poor game at 5-5, missing 3/6 first serves and committing four unforced errors to drop serve. Rogers once again served for the set and this time made no mistakes, holding to 30 when her opponent netted a forehand return.

Following the conclusion of the first set, play was suspended due to darkness. The match resumed the following day at 12:30 pm local time. Sakkari served first in the second and despite facing two deuce points and donating four unforced errors including another double fault, held for 1-0.

Rogers, a bit off the mark in her opening service game as she repeatedly misfired on the forehand, saved break point with a huge serve and forehand down the line and held when Sakkari netted a backhand return.

Sakkari appeared more relaxed as she found her groove on serve and held at love for 2-1 while Rogers held to 30 for 2-2 when Sakkari overcooked a crosscourt backhand. Failing to continuously move her feet, Sakkari repeatedly fell backward on her groundstrokes. Serving with new balls, she fired two additional aces, gifted three more unforced errors, and saved a break point to hold for 3-2.

Rogers held at love for the first time in the match, striking two extraordinary forehands on consecutive points for 3-3. Sakkari continued to misfire on the backhand and despite hitting another ace up the tee, donated two consecutive double faults to dump serve.

Rogers, just two games from the third round and feeling the pressure, faced two deuce and a break point but managed to consolidate when her opponent’s forehand went wide. Sakkari, serving to stay in the match at 3-5, continued to miss the first serve yet held for 4-5 when Rogers mistimed the return.

Shelby Rogers maintained her focus and composure as she served for the match and a coveted spot in the third round. She opened with a powerful serve and inside-out forehand and secured the match when Sakkari netted the return. It was not necessarily an enthralling or exceedingly well-played match, but the American secured victory in straights over the course of two days.

Rogers finished with more double faults than aces, more errors than winners but converted 4/8 break points, 14/20 at the net and won 67% on first and 50% on second serve points.

She will need to significantly improve all areas of her game when she takes on the #18 seed, Elena Rybakina. The twenty-two-year-old from Kazakhstan has had an impressive season reaching the quarters at the French Open, the 4th round in Berlin, and the semis in Eastbourne, both grass court tune-up events.

This will be their third tour level meeting having split the first two. Rybakina won their only grass court match 6-4 in the third just two weeks prior in Berlin.

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