Ons Jabeur had to come from behind to reach the second week of the US Open for the first time. The No.5 seed defeated No.31 Shelby Rogers 4-6, 6-4, 6-3 in 2 hours and 17 minutes.
Jabeur, who reached her first major final at Wimbledon this year, has now reached the second week at each of the Grand Slams -- and six times in total. Her previous best showings at Flushing Meadows were a trio of third-round runs between 2019 and 2021.
"Finally," Jabeur said in her post-match press conference. "[The US Open second week] means a lot. You know, I know that I don't play the best on hard court, but it's always amazing to see how I'm improving, how I'm pushing my limits.
"I just don't want to stop here. You know how much I love New York, how much I want to be here. Just amazing to put the hard work, even though the preparation for the hard court season wasn't great. But just the main reason to be here and the main goal for me is always to play good here.
"I'm just gonna keep fighting and keep pushing and breaking records here."
Welcome to Round 4 of the #USOpen, @Ons_Jabeur! pic.twitter.com/eCRAhhSLXD— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 2, 2022
Even though Jabeur had beaten Rogers in both of their previous encounters, the American has developed a reputation as a giant-killer. She was bidding for her eighth Top 10 win and fourth on the Grand Slam stage. Last year, Rogers ousted World No.1 Ashleigh Barty in the third round of the US Open. A month ago, she reached her first WTA 500 final in San Jose, cracking the Top 30 as a result.
But Jabeur showed grit as well as touch to come through a thoroughly entertaining affair that featured its share of all-court exchanges and crowd-pleasing winners. After pausing to be sick courtside before the final game, she withstood a last-ditch fightback from Rogers to convert her sixth match point.
Turning point: For much of the first two sets, Rogers had the measure of Jabeur. The Tunisian threw everything she had at her opponent, but Rogers was repeatedly able to anticipate, track down and turn defense into attack. In the first set, momentum shifted back and forth throughout, with Rogers winning two multi-deuce tussles at its start then winning eight of the last 10 points from 4-4.
The pattern continued into the second set, but an improvement in Jabeur's first serve percentage from 55% to 67% enabled her to weather Rogers' shot-making. This time, it was her turn to make her move at 4-4, diving for a spectacular backhand winner off a finely angled Rogers counter-drop. Consecutive double faults from Rogers coughed up the only break of the set, and Jabeur served it out to force a third.
how 😮— wta (@WTA) September 2, 2022
oh wait, it's @Ons_Jabeur 😅#USOpenpic.twitter.com/qzIHNcVoKd
Rogers, who received treatment on her right arm between the second and third sets, ultimately lost five games in a row from 4-3 up in the second set. Her game subsided into a cascade of unforced errors at the start of the third set -- Rogers committed 19 in the decider in total -- and Jabeur quickly found herself with a 5-1 lead.
Rogers rediscovered her shot-making prowess with her back to the wall, saving five match points in that game and then breaking Jabeur as she served for the match. But the deficit was too much to make up, and four cheap forehand errors from Rogers in the next game put Jabeur over the line.
What's next for Jabeur: She will bid for her fourth career major quarterfinal, with a match against No.18 seed Veronika Kudermetova, who raced through the quickest match of the tournament so far, defeating Dalma Galfi 6-2, 6-0 in just 46 minutes.
After breaking Galfi for 3-2 in the first set, Kudermetova dropped just four further points. A 16-point streak ended the first set and started the second, and a 13-point streak finished the match. Kudermetova tallied 15 winners to six unforced errors and won all 24 of her first-serve points.
Kudermetova, whose quarterfinal run at Roland Garros this year was her first Grand Slam second-week appearance, is also in the fourth round at the US Open for the first time.
Kudermetova has a perfect 3-0 head-to-head record over Jabeur, including a win last month in San Jose.
"The thing is, the pressure's on her, she always won against me," said Jabeur. "Now I feel like I really need to listen to what [coach] Issam [Jellali] has to say to really figure out how I'm gonna win this one. In Grand Slams sometimes you just have to keep fighting and just get the win, even playing ugly."