BAD GASTEIN, Austria - Five years ago, following a successful junior career, Shelby Rogers passed up several tempting college scholarships in favor of trying her luck on tour.
She took some time to find her feet in the senior ranks, bobbing around in the lower depths of the Top 400 for her first few years. However, recently she has started to make some real progress, and on Sunday she will contest her first WTA final, at the NÜRNBERGER Gastein Ladies.
Rogers booked her place in the final with a 7-6(12), 6-3 win over No.2 seed Sara Errani. Having squandered an early lead, Rogers dug deep to take the first set on a tie-break, saving four set points before converting her fifth opportunity.
In the second set, the American recovered from an early break to win six of the final seven games, closing out the match at the first time of asking with a backhand winner.
Rogers, who had never previously been beyond the second round of a WTA event and won two qualifying matches just to reach the main draw, will face 2009 champion and No.4 seed Andrea Petkovic in the final.
Petkovic recovered from a slow start to defeat Grace Min, 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, in a rain-interrupted encounter. A nightmare start saw Petkovic quickly fall 5-1 behind as she struggled with both the conditions and an increasingly confident opponent.
While she was unable to rescue the first set, Petkovic took the second in impressive fashion before breaking in the seventh game of the decider to book her place in the final.
Having struggled initially with the switch from grass to clay, Petkovic has improved with each passing round and goes into the final in confident mood.
"I'm playing well and getting better with every match," she said. "I'm really happy how everything turned out after my late arrival from Wimbledon."
The German is similarly optimistic about another final taking place on Sunday.
"Initially, I was worried they would have to play against the Netherlands. They would have been very defensive, and that could have been tough," she added when asked about the outcome of the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. "But Argentina? It's going to be 3-1 for Germany. Or 4-1, even!"