Ash Barty collapsed from the US Open in spectacular fashion, squandering a three-game lead in an upset 2-6 6-1 6-7 (5-7) loss to Shelby Rogers in the third round.
After overcoming a poor opening set to take the second, Barty then looked to be on the winning streak as he led the third 5-2.
However, having previously struggled to serve the game, Barty faltered late as American Rogers headed home with the support of the crowd.
Barty, then down 6-5, served to force a tiebreaker but fell 7-5.
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Barty was 5-0 all-time against Rogers, with four of the wins coming this year.
No. 43 seed Rogers, however, took inspiration from the crowd to finish the more composed and controlled of the two.
“It couldn’t be worse, I had lost to her every time,” Rogers said after the match.
“I was watching a video this morning of Vitas Gerulaitis saying ‘no one beats me 17 times in a row’. I was only 6 years old.
When asked to explain what had just happened, a bewildered Rogers initially replied, “I’m not sure I can.”
Meanwhile, for Barty, it was his struggles to serve the game that came back to haunt here, having had similar issues against Clara Tauson and Vera Zvonareva.
She had said it wasn’t a “worry” before the game with Rogers.
“It’s happened many times, but I’ve won about 40 games (this year) and it hasn’t happened often,” Barty said.
“These are just a few of those games where I couldn’t get up and hit my points on first serves.
“When you watch good players on the second serve, you’re going to get injured. It’s as simple as that. It’s not a worry.”
Unfortunately, that proved a problem against Rogers.
“You shouldn’t lose when you’re 5-2, that was a problem,” said ESPN’s Mark Donaldson.
“But let’s put this in context. Four times in this tournament, Ash Barty served for the match and was broken.
“There are things she needs to work on going forward. Definitely the serve. The second set was great but in the third set, five double faults in the first two service games, it’s not going to be enough.
There were immediate problems for Barty, who lost the first set 6-2.
The Australian committed 17 unforced errors from the American’s three and five double faults in an unusually sloppy first set.
She rallied in the second set, however, to win the second set 6-1 with just the seven unforced errors to go with two breaks as the momentum turned.
It was all Barty then until she came on to serve the game up 5-2 in the third set.
Rogers overcame two breaks to take a 6-5 lead in the third with Barty again forced to try to overcome all mental demons.
Barty then served to force the tiebreaker and set up a thrilling finish but lost 7-5 to crash.
‘AMAZING’ INCREASE CONTINUES FOR 18-YEAR-OLDS
For now, the next generation of tennis stars continues to emerge.
After teenage dreams came true on Saturday for Carlos Alcaraz and Leylah Fernandez, this time it was 18-year-old Emma Raducanu who took the tennis world by storm.
She did it with a 6-0, 6-1 victory over world number 41 Sara Sorribes Tormo to reach the fourth round of the US Open and did it in just 70 minutes.
“It’s now been two weeks in New York and the third week,” she told Amazon Prime.
“I never thought I would be here, but I’m so, so excited.
“I was playing very well and I know Sara is an extremely tough opponent. She doesn’t make mistakes so you have to be on your game at every point.
“I had to work so hard and there were some very, very long games that could have gone either way, so I’m really, really happy that I was able to hold on and stay on it and win in the end. .”
Raducanu now faces a last-16 game with Rogers.
END OF AUSSIE TOMLJANOVIC’S AWESOME RACE
Australia’s singles dreams are over after Ajla Tomljanovic’s career-best run ended on Sunday.
Tomljanovic lost 6-3 6-2 to fourth seed Karolina Pliskova, with the Czech star hitting 20 aces in a serving masterclass.
It took just 71 minutes for Pliskova, who usurped Barty as the WTA leader, to pass.
Former world No. 1 Pliskova is now in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows for the fifth time in her career.
DJOKOVIC’S QUEST FOR HISTORY CONTINUES
Novak Djokovic moved within four matches of the end of the first men’s Grand Slam of the calendar year in 52 years on Saturday, rallying to beat Japan’s Kei Nishikori at the US Open.
Top-ranked Djokovic improved to 18-2 on aggregate against Nishikori, claiming his 17th straight win in the rivalry 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 at the stadium Arthur Ashe.
“I was very happy with the concentration,” Djokovic said.
“Maybe at times I wasn’t at my best, but I was determined and focused and that made the difference.”
The 34-year-old Serbian star qualified for a fourth-round match Monday against Jenson Brooksby, the 99th American wildcard, or Aslan Karatsev, the 21st seeded Russian.
With a fourth career US Open trophy, Djokovic would complete the first men’s singles major title sweep in the same year since Rod Laver in 1969.
Djokovic is also continuing the story in pursuit of his 21st career Grand Slam title, which would break the deadlock for the men’s record he shares with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, both out with injuries.
Djokovic, who briefly held all four Slam crowns after the 2016 French Open, also beat Nishikori in the Tokyo Olympics quarter-final. Nishikori hasn’t beaten Djokovic for seven years.
Nishikori broke in game three on an errant backhand from Djokovic, but the Serb came back at 4-4 when Nishikori netted a forehand. In the tiebreaker, Nishikori won the final three points, the last on a service winner.
“I don’t think I started very well,” Djokovic said.
“I was too passive. He dictated the play. I was always trying to find the tempo. It took me a bit of time to adapt to his game.”
Djokovic, who committed 20 unforced errors in the first set, took a 2-1 lead in the second on a backhand cross volley.
He then saved five break points before holding in the fourth game and two more in the sixth before breaking the ninth for the set when Nishkori sent a backhand wide.
In the third set, Djokovic fired a backhand winner to take a 3-1 lead, sent a forehand wide to give Nishikori a break in the seventh game, then fell back to a scored forehand from Nishikori and held. to take the set.
In the fourth, Nishikori hit a long forehand to give Djokovic a break for a 3-2 lead and the world number one didn’t lose another game.
“Big credit to Kei, who played at a very high level,” Djokovic said.
“He surprised me with his level. He was fast. It was tough. Great fight from him.
AN OLYMPIC CHAMPION HOLDS ON
Tokyo Olympic champion Alexander Zverev beat 184th-placed Jack Sock 3-6, 6-2, 6-3, 2-1 when the American retired with a right thigh injury.
“I know I’m playing well, but a lot of other guys are playing well too,” Zverev said. “I hope to keep my form and give myself my best chance.” Fourth-seeded Zverev, a 2020 US Open runner-up, joined qualifiers Oscar Otte and Peter Gojowczyk as the top German trio in the US Open fourth round since 1994 and in every round of 16 since Wimbledon in 1997.
Wimbledon runner-up Matteo Barrettini, Italy’s sixth seed, knocked out Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 6-7 (5/7), 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-3. Next up is Otte, 144th, who beat Italian Andreas Seppi 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.
2019 CHAMPION BACK IN FRAMEWORK
Greek 17th seed Maria Sakkari, a French Open semi-finalist, knocked out two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 6-4, 6-3, booking a fourth-round match against 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu.
Czech 10th seed Kvitova double faulted on the last point to give Sakkari the win after 81 minutes.
Canada’s sixth-seeded Andreescu improved to 10-0 at the US Open, edging lucky 104th-seeded Belgian loser Greet Minnen 6-1, 6-2.
“I’m very happy with my performance,” said Andreescu.
“For me to play like that on this kind of stage is an honor.”
Tokyo Olympic champion Belinda Bencic, a 2019 US Open semi-finalist, beat 23rd seeded USA Jessica Pegula 6-2, 6-4.
The Swiss 11th seed will next face Polish seventh seed Iga Swiatek, the French Open champion last year, who beat Estonian Anett Kontveit 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.
“I was really happy with the way I played,” Bencic said. “It was good tennis.”