Shelby Rogers handed No.4 seed Simona Halep her second straight first-round loss at the Australian Open, rolling through in straight sets.
WTA Staff

MELBOURNE, Australia - Unseeded Shelby Rogers put on an impressive display to kick off play on Rod Laver Area, dispatching No.4 seed Simona Halep, 6-3, 6-1 in the first round of the Australian Open for her first career Top 5 victory.

"I can stay out here longer!" an overjoyed Rogers told the crowd during her on-court interview.

Rogers didn't get to play Down Under last year due to a string of injuries. Since then, the American has cut a much stronger figure at the Grand Slams, reaching the French Open quarterfinals last spring with wins over Karolina Pliskova and Petra Kvitova.

"The biggest thing I took away from that was just that I can compete with the top players in the world and I'm good enough," she said in her post-match press conference. "There are little things here and there I need to work on, but I'm here. I need to believe in myself.

"So I have definitely carried that away from the French Open and just been enjoying it a little bit more. There has been a lot of positive feedback, which has been nice. Just trying to keep that going."

Halep had arrived in Melbourne early in the hopes of optimizing her preparation for the first major of 2017, but the knee injury that appeared to plague her in her loss at the Shenzhen Open seemed to resurface against Rogers, who didn't drop serve throughout the 75-minute match.

"I have had some tough draws in the slams, so I'm kind of used to that, playing the seeds and playing big matches right off the bat," she said in her post-match press conference.

"But it's always fun. You know you're going to play on a good court. You know you're going to get the atmosphere. It can be tough sometimes to play on the outer courts, not too much going on."

Rogers raced out to a double-break lead in the second set and didn't look back, clinching the first upset of the tournament in emphatic fashion, hitting 26 winners to just 22 unforced errors. The Romanian, by contrast, was far less efficient off the ground, managing 18 winners and hitting 19 errors.

"I think I played great today, trying to be aggressive going out there. My game plan worked. Just move forward, hit your shots, be really aggressive. When I'm doing that, I am playing well. Very happy with how I did today."

Up next for Rogers is either Australian wildcard Ashleigh Barty - who recently took World No.1 Angelique Kerber to three sets at the Brisbane International - or Germany's Annika Beck.

"I have always enjoyed a big crowd and people cheering," said Rogers. "I have always loved that atmosphere. It's a little bit different playing on such a big court and then having different pressures coming from everywhere. I think I have matured a little bit and gotten used to that.

"It's a great part of the sport. It's a great opportunity that we have to play in front of so many people and have people cheering us on. I really appreciate it."