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August, 31, 2017: The day Rogers and Gavrilova broke the record for the longest women’s match in US Open history

Every day, Tennis Majors takes you back in time to celebrate a great moment in tennis history. Today, we go back to 2017 to witness how Shelby Rogers and Daria Gavrilova broke the record for the longest women’s match in US Open history after their three hour-33 minute contest ended

Shelby Rogers, On This Day Shelby Rogers, On This Day

What happened exactly on that day?

On this day, August 31 in 2017, Shelby Rogers defeated Daria Gavrilova 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 in the second round of the US Open. Their three-hour 33-minute match became the longest women’s match ever played at the US Open, beating the previous record by 10 minutes set by Johanna Konta and Garbine Muguruza in 2015. Coincidentally, almost four years later to the date, on August 30, 2021, two women’s matches would beat that record on the same day.

The players involved: Shelby Rogers and Daria Gavrilova

  • Shelby Rogers: the top 100 pro with 2 WTA runner-up finishes

Shelby Rogers, from the United States, was born in 1992 and began her career in 2009. She broke into the top 100 in 2014, the year she reached her first final on the WTA Tour in Bad Gastein, defeated by Andrea Petkovic (6-3, 6-3). In 2016, she reached a second final – this time at Rio de Janeiro (lost to Francesca Schiavone, 6-2, 6-2), but her main achievement that year was reaching the quarter-final at Roland-Garros, only to be defeated by eventual champion, Garbine Muguruza (7-5, 6-3). In August 2017, Rogers was ranked No 62 in the world.

  • Daria Gavrilova: the 2017 New Haven champion

Daria Gavrilova is a Russian-born Australian player born in 1994. She made herself famous on the WTA Tour in 2015, when, holding being ranked No. 97 in the world, she defeated world No 2, Maria Sharapova 7-6, 6-3 at the Miami Open. In 2016, she reached her first WTA final in Moscow, defeated by Svetlana Kuznetsova (6-2, 6-1), and the following year, Gavrilova claimed her first title in New Haven, beating Dominika Cibulkova in the final (4-6, 6-3, 6-4). 

The place: the US Open at Flushing Meadows

The US Open (known as the US Nationals before 1968 and the start of the Open Era), was established in 1881, and, although it is the only Grand Slam to have been played every single year without an interruption since its beginning, it moved several times locations throughout the 20th century. First held in August 1881 on grass courts at the Newport Casino, on Rhode Island, the tournament moved to New-York in 1915, where it was held at the West Side Tennis Club, at Forest Hills until 1977 (with the exception of years 1921-1923, when the event was moved to Philadelphia).

In the years 1975-1977, the event was played on clay. In 1978, the US Open left the West Side Tennis Club, which was now too small for such an important event, for the USTA National Tennis Center, located in Flushing Meadows, New-York. At the same time, the decision was made to change the surface to hard courts. The Tennis Center was one of the biggest tennis complexes in the world:  its center court was the Arthur Ashe Stadium, which had a capacity of 23,000 spectators. 

The facts: Rogers seals the historic US Open win on her fifth match point

At the 2017 US Open, where all eyes were on Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, no one would have imagined that the second-round clash between Shelby Rogers and Daria Gavrilova was going to go down in the history books.

Gavrilova had landed in New York in full confidence, having just claimed her first singles title in New Haven, where she had defeated world No 10, Agnieszka Radwanska (6-4, 6-4) and world No 11 Dominika Cibulkova (4-6, 6-3, 6-4). However, after she dismissed qualifier Allie Kiick, world No 643, in the first round (6-2, 6-1), a bigger challenge awaited her in the second round: Shelby Rogers, who had reached the Roland-Garros quarter-finals in 2016.

After no less than six breaks of serve, Rogers took the first set, 7-6. She was the first to break her opponent’s serve, but she lost the second set, 6-4, and this was the beginning of a 90-minute deciding set which led the two women to achieve the record for the longest match in US Open history. In this thrilling third set, Gavrilova took the lead, 4-2, and even had three opportunities to stretch her lead to 5-2 but missed each one of them. Rogers clawed her way back though, and obtained four match points at 5-4.

However, this marathon was not meant to end so quickly. The Australian saved these match points and pushed her opponent to a tiebreak. This time, when she obtained a fifth match point, Rogers finally sealed her victory, winning the tiebreak 7-5. They didn’t realize it at the time, but after three hours and 33 minutes of play, the two players had just completed the longest women’s match in US Open history, previously held by Johanna Konta, who, had defeated Garbine Muguruza in 2015 in three hours and 23 minutes (7-6, 6-7, 6-2).

Longest women’s matches in Grand Slam tournaments

“Right before I went to the locker room, my coach told me,” Rogers said in her post match press conference, according to “I was like, ‘Oh, that’s pretty cool, casually setting records today. We’d been battling out there. You try to stay in the moment. I didn’t feel like it was the longest match ever, but it’s starting to set in a little bit now. Going to be sore!”

Her opponent, however, didn’t share Rogers’ excitement. “I don’t know what my emotions are right now. I mean, I played over three and a half hours for nothing. I didn’t feel as great as I probably could have today, but I hung in there so that’s pretty good. In the end, if I won, I could be proud of my efforts.”

What next? Rogers would go down in the next round of the US Open

Rogers would be defeated in the following round by world No 4 Elena Svitolina 6-4, 7-5. She would go on to reach the quarter-finals of the US Open in 2020 though and would climb as high as world No 40 in July 2021.

Gavrilova would leave the top 100 at the end of 2019, after a terrible season where she would lose in the first round on 12 occasions.

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