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After Naomi Osaka, Ash Barty Too is knocked out of U.S. Open in 3rd Round

Ash Barty
Ash Barty

Ashleigh Barty, the world No 1 and defending Wimbledon champion, is out of the US Open after a 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (5) defeat to unseeded Shelby Rogers of the United States in the third round. Rogers, the world No 43 who had lost all five of her previous career meetings with Barty including four this year, trailed 5-2 and a double break in the third set before fighting back to force a tiebreaker amid a delirious Saturday night crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium squarely behind the last American standing in the women’s draw.

The players held their serve throughout the first 10 points of the decisive tie-break until Barty finally blinked with an overcooked forehand early in the rally to go match point down. When Barty then sent a backhand return sailing past the baseline after 2hr 9min, a wide-eyed Rogers dropped her racket and stood with her hands over her mouth in disbelief.

One night after the third-seeded Naomi Osaka’s shock loss to the Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez on the same court, the exit of the top-seeded Australian throws the US Open women’s tournament wide open. U.S. Open has seen some major upsets this year but Ash Barty out of the tournament is the biggest of them all. Women’s players like Aryna Sabalenka are now considered as the hot favorite to win her first slam as the number 1 and number 3 seed are now out. She has won two doubles grand slam but has never gone beyond semis in the singles draw.

Ash Barty had appeared to right the ship following a ragged opening set in which she made 17 unforced errors, mostly off the forehand side. She breezed through the second to level the match, broke Rogers early in the third, and then again at love for 5-2. But while serving for a spot in the second week of the tournament, Barty made four more unforced errors including her seventh double fault, opening a door for Rogers that she would soon kick down.

“I told myself I didn’t want to lose the same way I lost the last five times against her,” said the 28-year-old Rogers, whose emphasis on variety within the points marked a tactical shift from their previous five meetings. “I just tried to do things a little bit differently. In the first set I mixed in some high balls, I was super patient with her slice because she’s not going to miss one very often. I know that very well. These were the words of Shelby Rogers a the post-match interview.

Ash Barty, who has never made it past the fourth round at Flushing Meadows, entered this year’s US Open poised to make a run at her first hard-court major title following previous wins on clay and grass, having won her second career WTA 1000 title on the surface this year and 25 of 28 matches on American pavement since the start of 2019. Rogers’ ranking had once dropped to 780th in the world after she underwent left knee surgery in 2018, at one point thinking that she might not be able to play again. But she earned her career-best result at the US Open with last year’s surprise quarter-final run and is now one win away from matching it.

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Navneet S Karnani

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