Shelby Rogers pulled off a stirring comeback win at the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday, overcoming US Open finalist and No.23 seed Leylah Fernandez of Canada 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(4) to reach the quarterfinals.
After being overwhelmed in the opening set, the World No.44 Rogers turned the encounter all the way around, earning victory over the 19-year-old Fernandez in 2 hours and 34 minutes.
Words from the winner: "I thought it was an incredible battle today," Rogers said in her post-match press conference. "I thought we both played really well at times, and it was a sort of tug-of-war kind of match, one that's really fun to play actually. It's a special sort of challenge.
"The crowd was into it on both sides. They wanted good tennis. They wanted more tennis. So I'm just really happy to come through that one and overcome some emotional and mental battles during that match and beat someone that's playing really well."
Stat corner: Rogers came into the match with a hardcourt win over Fernandez under her belt; she beat the teenage Canadian in straight sets in Lexington last season in their only previous meeting.
Rogers claimed another victory by edging Fernandez in a match in which little separated the players. However, while the pair had an equal number of unforced errors, Rogers finished with 36 winners to Fernandez's 25.
Rogers, 28, continues her strong summer-into-autumn hardcourt season in 2021. Rogers has won nine of her past 11 matches, which includes a trip to the US Open fourth round, where she beat World No.1 Ashleigh Barty (also in a third-set tiebreak) before falling to eventual champion Emma Raducanu.
The round-of-16 victory means Rogers has well outpaced her previous best results in Indian Wells. In her five prior main-draw appearances in the desert, Rogers had fallen in the second round three times and lost her opening-rounder twice.
Key moments: Two breaks of serve helped Fernandez charge to the one-set lead with an opening frame in which she successfully saved all four of the break points she faced. Fernandez went 2-for-2 on her own break-point conversion as she put herself a set away from the quarterfinals.
But Rogers used a clutch of strong forehands to regroup in the second set and stormed to a triple-break, 5-0 lead. Although she failed to serve out at love, Rogers earned a fourth break of the set in the final game by pressuring Fernandez's serve, eventually resulting in a double fault on set point.
A classic final set followed. The players had a combined 15 break points but dropped serve only once apiece, in the first two games. They blasted shots all the way into the decisive tiebreak, but not before Fernandez saved a match point at 6-5 with a scintillating all-court point.
In the closely contested breaker, Rogers fired a backhand winner off a wayward Fernandez dropshot to lead 5-4. Two unforced errors by Fernandez followed, and Rogers had pulled off the upset in two-and-a-half hours.
Next up: Rogers will face No.24 seed Jelena Ostapenko in the quarterfinals, after Ostapenko upset No.2 seed Iga Swiatek in a battle of former Roland Garros champions.
The 2017 Roland Garros champion Ostapenko has beaten Rogers in both of their previous meetings, although she needed a third-set tiebreak to get past Rogers in Charleston in 2019.
Badosa beats Krejcikova for third Top 5 win
No.21 seed Paula Badosa joined Rogers in the quarterfinals. The Spaniard stunned No.3 seed Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic 6-1, 7-5 to make the elite eight at the BNP Paribas Open.
Badosa knocked out the reigning Roland Garros champion in just 85 minutes, improving to 2-0 lifetime against current the World No.5 Krejcikova.
"I think I played a pretty good match today," Badosa told the press after her win. "I knew I had to play on a high level against Barbora. She's an amazing player, very talented. We played before so I knew what I was going to find there on court. I'm feeling good and I'm very happy that I could play my best today."
Badosa started 2021 without a Top 10 win to her name, but she has now picked up four of those already this season. Three of those have come over members of the Top 5, with victories over World No.1 Ashleigh Barty in Charleston and No.3 Aryna Sabalenka in Cincinnati preceding her upset of Krejcikova.
Badosa tallied 24 winners, doubling her unforced error count of 12. She exhibited clean and precise play, which helped her grab six breaks of serve. By contrast, Krejcikova's 20 winners were overridden by 28 unforced errors.
"I knew I had to stay very aggressive to try to dominate every point, because when she dominates the ball, I think she moves the ball and she opens court very well," Badosa said. "That was a little bit the key. The serve as well, I knew I had to go for it every time. That's a little bit what I did. It went well."
Badosa started the match by breaking serve in the very first game with a backhand winner down the line, and she closed out a dominant first set with another winning down-the-line backhand, this time on a service return.
Matters were closer in the second set, with four service breaks in the first six games. Krejcikova nearly faltered serving at 4-5, having to save a match point with an error-forcing forehand before holding for 5-5.
Badosa, though, would not be denied. She broke serve at love at 6-5 to wrap up the win, ending the clash with a forehand passing winner.
As it turned out, the score line was identical to their previous meeting, when Badosa beat Krejcikova in the first round of Madrid earlier this year, en route to a semifinal showing on home soil.