Rogers stuns No. 1 Barty in 3 sets to advance at U.S. Open

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NEW YORK — Shelby Rogers lingered on the court and panned her phone around at the fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium for a snapshot souvenir of the scene after she beat Ash Barty for the first time.

Not just at the U.S. Open.

Ever.

Rogers was winless in five meetings – four this year – against the No. 1 player, forcing the last American left in the women’s draw to mix up her methodology.

Urged on by a raucous crowd, Rogers smacked moon balls, stayed patient – and waited as a rattled Barty hit a slew of unforced errors that led to another early exit at Flushing Meadows for the reigning Wimbledon champion.

Rogers rallied from down 5-2 in the third set to upset Barty 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 (5) on Saturday night for the biggest win of the 28-year-old’s career.

“I just tried to get the crowd into it. I said, `You know what, if I’m going to go down, I’m going to give a last dying effort,”‘ she said.

She found her serve, tinkered with approach and steeled her will against the top player in the game and pulled off the improbable comeback.

“You find ways to stay in the present and stay not thinking about I’m down 5-2,” Rogers said.

Rogers had been 0-6 lifetime against top-seeded players.

Barty gave her plenty of help to end the streak. Barty had not dropped a set in the tournament but was sloppy from the start. She made 17 unforced errors in the first set and then three more when she held a 5-2 lead in the third that let Rogers back in. Rogers broke Barty twice in the third when Barty served for the match.

“I played a pretty awful first set in the sense where I was erratic,” Barty said. “I couldn’t quite find the rhythm of how I wanted to play.”

Rogers was a quarterfinalist in New York a year ago, while Barty owns titles from the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon this July but never has been past the fourth round at Flushing Meadows.

Rogers laughed as she referenced the self-deprecating quote, “Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row,” made after he finally beat Jimmy Connors.

“Every time I lost to her, I can’t be mad because she’s such a nice person,” Rogers said. “It’s like, `Man, she just kicked my butt.’ Then it’s like, `Oh, you’re going to find it one day.”‘

Rogers didn’t have to last that long to snap her winless streak against Barty.

As they are for most Americans, the Ashe crowd roared for Rogers on every winner, and she waved her arms and exhorted the fans to get louder.

No fans were allowed to attend the U.S. Open a year ago because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The crowd is next-level this year,” Rogers told the fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium. “You’ve picked who you want to win, so thank you for picking me tonight.”

Barty was unable to avoid the rash of upsets that have hit the tournament. A day after defending champion Naomi Osaka and two of the top five men, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev were beaten, Barty went down to the 43rd-ranked Rogers.

Rogers next faces unseeded 18-year-old Emma Raducanu, who used a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo to advance.

Asked about Raducanu, Rogers — who placed her hands on her head in amazement and blew kisses to the crowd after the win — wanted to talk about the win.

She even apologized to fellow American Jack Sock, who was on-deck to play Alexander Zverev at Ashe. She needed 2 hours, 8 minutes to beat Barty and she wanted a few more moments to soak in the win.

“Jack, I know you want to play, but I kind of want to stay out here,” she said.

She laughed when she had no idea the moderator in charge of the session with reporters was trying to ask her about her week in New York.

“I’m not used to this press conference thing, sorry,” she said, laughing.

The 25-year-old Barty became the first Australian woman to win Wimbledon since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980 and has won five titles overall this year.

Pretty good. But not good enough in New York.

“I just didn’t quite have enough in the tank,” she said. “I’ve left everything out on the court this year. It was no different tonight.”

Fernando Verdasco accepts 2-month doping ban

Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
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LONDON – Former top-10 player Fernando Verdasco accepted a voluntary provisional doping suspension of two months after testing positive for a medication for ADHD, the International Tennis Integrity Agency announced.

Verdasco, who turned 39 this month, said he was taking methylphenidate as medication prescribed by his doctor to treat ADHD but forgot to renew his therapeutic use exemption for the drug. The integrity agency said Verdasco has now been granted an exemption by the World Anti-Doping Agency moving forward.

He tested positive at an ATP Challenger tournament in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in February.

The integrity agency said in a news release that it “accepts that the player did not intend to cheat, that his violation was inadvertent and unintentional, and that he bears no significant fault or negligence for it,” and so what could have been a two-year suspension was reduced to two months.

Verdasco will be eligible to compete on Jan. 8.

The Spaniard is a four-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist, reaching that stage most recently in 2013 at Wimbledon, where he blew a two-set lead in a five-set loss to eventual champion Andy Murray.

Verdasco reached a career-best ranking of No. 7 in April 2009 and currently is No. 125.

Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov give Canada 1st Davis Cup title

Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports
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MALAGA, Spain — Felix Auger-Aliassime fell to his back behind the baseline, then waited for teammates to race off Canada’s bench and pile on top of him.

A few minutes later, the Canadians finally could lift the Davis Cup.

“I think of us all here, we’ve dreamt of this moment,” Auger-Aliassime said.

Canada won the title for the first time, beating Australia behind victories from Denis Shapovalov and Auger-Aliassime.

Auger-Aliassime secured the winning point when he downed Alex de Minaur 6-3, 6-4 after Shapovalov opened the day by rolling past Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-2, 6-4.

Seven years after leading Canada to the top of junior tennis, Auger-Aliassime, Shapovalov and their teammates finally got to lift the biggest team trophy in their sport.

“We wanted to grow up and be part of the team and try to help the country win the first title,” Shapovalov said, “so everything is just so surreal right now.”

Shapovalov had dropped both his singles matches this week and needed treatment on his back during a three-set loss in the semifinals to Lorenzo Sonego of Italy that lasted 3 hours, 15 minutes. But the left-hander moved quickly around the court, setting up angles to put away winners while racing to a 4-0 lead in the first set.

Auger-Aliassime then finished off his superb second half of the season by completing a perfect week in Spain. He twice had kept the Canadians alive after Shapovalov dropped the opening singles match, and he replaced his weary teammate to join Vasek Pospisil for the decisive doubles point.

This time, Auger-Aliassime made sure the doubles match wouldn’t even be necessary. After his teammates poured onto the court to celebrate with him, they got up and danced around in a circle.

Canada had reached the final only once, falling to host Spain in Madrid in 2019, when Rafael Nadal beat Shapovalov for the clinching point after Auger-Aliassime had lost in the opening match.

But with Auger-Aliassime having since surged up the rankings to his current spot at No. 6, the Canadians are a much more formidable team now. They won the ATP Cup in January and finally added the Davis Cup crown to the junior Davis Cup title Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov led them to in 2015.

Australia was trying for its 29th title and first since current captain Lleyton Hewitt was part of the title-winning team in 2003.

But it was finally time for the Canadians, who were given a wild card into the field when Russia was suspended because of its invasion of Ukraine.

“Look, I think we were very close today,” de Minaur said. “Just wait until the next time we get the same matchup. Hopefully we can get the win and prove that we can do it.”

But Canada will be tough to beat as long as Auger-Aliassime and Shapovalov play.

Shapovalov is just 23 and Auger-Aliassime 22, but both already have been Grand Slam semifinalists and Auger-Aliassime ended 2022 as one of the hottest players on the ATP Tour. He won all of his four titles this year, including three straight weeks in October.

He also beat Carlos Alcaraz in the previous Davis Cup stage in September, just after the Spaniard had won the U.S. Open to rise to No. 1 in the rankings. That victory helped send the Canadians into the quarterfinals, which they started this week by edging Germany.

“They’re not kids anymore, that’s for sure. Not after today – well not after the last couple of years,” said Pospisil, the team veteran at 32. “They’ve been crushing it.”