Perhaps no player benefitted more from the five-month hiatus than Shelby Rogers. Mired with injury trouble for the better part of the last two years, Rogers is finally healthy, and playing some jaw-dropping tennis.
Since the resumption of the WTA Tour, Rogers has defeated three of the world’s best players in Serena Williams, Elena Rybakina, and Petra Kvitova (where she saved four match points in gutsy fashion). At her best, Rogers combines devastating power from both wings with an equally devastating serve. With a win over Naomi Osaka, Rogers will advance to her first career Grand Slam semifinal. It’s safe to say she is playing the best tennis of her life.
The last time Rogers and Osaka faced off, the American won convincingly, 6-4, 6-2, at the Volvo Car Open in Charleston. Don’t read too much into this result, though, it was a home cooking. Rogers grew up on the green clay in Charleston, and clay is undoubtedly Osaka’s worst surface. But the quick hard courts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center may be Osaka’s best surface (she owns an 18-4 win/loss record at the US Open).
On the court, expect pace, power, and an array of clean winners. Both players strike a thick ball, and rarely sell themselves short on a single shot.
In the end, Osaka’s experience should prevail, but don’t expect Rogers to go down without a fight.
The Pick: Naomi Osaka