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Ash Barty insists nerves not to blame for US Open loss to Rogers: “I didn’t quite have enough physically or mentally in the tank”

World No 1 and 2021 Wimbledon champion Ash Barty said she ran out of gasagainst Shelby Rogers after the American fought back from the brink to win in a third-set tiebreaker

Ashleigh Barty day four of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Ashleigh Barty day four of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Credit: AI / REUTERS / PANORAMIC

Top seed Ash Barty insisted nerves did not get the better of her as she let slip a 5-2 lead in the third set to bow out of the US Open after a shock third-round loss to Shelby Rogers on Saturday.

World No 43 Rogers stunned the 2021 Wimbledon champion 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5) in a see-saw contest that lasted two hours and eight minutes.

Barty had a double-break lead in the third set and served for the match, before Rogers stormed back to win the next four games and triumph in a tie-break in front of a raucous Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd who cheered home the American.

It was the fourth time in the tournament that Barty had been broken serving for the match.

“No, I felt comfortable on the court,” Barty told reporters when asked if there was an element of nerves. “I think that tension is natural. But I felt fine. I just didn’t quite have enough physically or mentally in the tank but that’s okay. We’ve had a great year so far. We’re looking forward to celebrating the good stuff that we’ve done, learning from the hurt, learning from the experiences, and moving on.”

Barty’s third-round exit adds to her relatively poor record at Flushing Meadows, having never progressed further than the fourth round, compared to the other Grand Slams. She won the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon in July this year, and has reached the semi-finals of her home Grand Slam – the Australian Open.

The Aussie, who was absent from the US Open in 2020, was beaten by China’s Wang Qiang in the fourth round here in 2019 as the second seed, and went down to Karolina Pliskova at the same stage in 2018.

“Don’t think we could have asked for much more honestly. I wouldn’t change a thing”

Barty would not be drawn on her record at Flushing Meadows, instead preferring to focus on her strong year, having been on the road for the past six months.

“The last six months have been a roller coaster,” she said. “I think back to the very first match that I played on this trip. I was 5-2 down in the third set in the first round of Miami. Tennis has a funny way of evening things out, doesn’t it?”

“You can’t win every single tennis match that you play. I’m proud of myself and my team for all the efforts we’ve put in in the last six months. It’s been pretty incredible. I don’t think we could have asked for much more honestly. I wouldn’t change a thing.

“With all of the tough moments that we have had, it’s created some of the most enjoyable experiences. I’ve learnt so much about myself, about them, the way that we work together. It’s been truly an incredible six months.”

Incredible person and one of the players I most respect on tour: Barty compliments Rogers

Barty also complimented her opponent for playing a great match and called Rogers an “incredible “person and one of the persons whom she respects most on the tour.

“There are certain people on the tour that I think no matter the result you know you’re always going to get a genuine handshake, a smile, you’re going to get that genuine respect. For me Shelby has always been one of those people. She’s one that I respect, one of the most that I respect on tour, and she’s an incredible person. Tonight she showed a lot of fight.”

“I could see she was enjoying herself. I think that’s the most important thing for both of us, we had a lot of fun out there. I know regardless of the result, it never changes our relationship, and that’s really special when you’ve got someone who is just a class act off and on the court. It sucks in tennis that there’s a winner and loser every single day, but sometimes you don’t mind losing to certain people. I think Shelby in a sense of her personality and her character, she’s certainly one of those for me.”

Rogers becomes the first American woman to defeat the world No 1 in the first week of a major tournament since 1994, when Steffi Graf was stunned by Lori McNeil at Wimbledon.

“I’m not sure I can,” Rogers said on-court when asked how to describe the comeback from 5-2 down. “I tried to fight for every point. I didn’t want to leave, I said ‘make balls, try to stay in this match’.”

Rogers will face British qualifier Emma Raducanu in the fourth round, while Barty confirmed she will now take a break but intends to play at next month’s Indian Wells event.

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