Two years ago, Shelby Rogers made her long-awaited return to the tour at her hometown tournament in Charleston. Though she would fall 7-6 in the third to Jelena Ostapenko, she shed tears of joy in being able to compete again in front of her fellow Charlestonians. Fast forward to 2021, and Rogers brings a strong run of form to her backyard. Her latest effort Tuesday? A 6-3, 6-4 dismissal of Kiki Mladenovic.
“We missed it so much last year, I am so happy to be back,” Rogers said after her match.
The hometown hero will now face off against fellow American Amanda Anisimova in one of the more intriguing second-round matchups. Anisimova’s accuracy and finesse should provide a tough test against Rogers’ overwhelming power.
According to the Har-Tru Instagram account, which features conditions reports from various competitors, the courts at the Volvo Car Open are playing “fast and dry, with the Dunlop ball fluffing up, allowing the big-hitters some heavy balls to swing out on, and the faster court rewarding them.”
In theory, the conditions should favor Rogers, who has spent more time playing on these green clay courts than any competitor in the field. Here, Rogers breaks down Mladenovic from the ground with a barrage of heavy, but safe, groundstrokes.
For Rogers, good offense might be her best defense. Green clay courts are notoriously difficult to find footing on, making it tough to continuously defend throughout a match. Here, Rogers punishes a backhand down the line while on defense, and wins the point immediately.
But Anisimova has a unique ability absorb power and redirect her shots with sharp angles.
That, combined with her feathery touch, could cause serious problems for Rogers on Wednesday.
In the end, this match is a toss-up, and as listed as a straight pick-em according to the oddsmakers. At basically even odds, Rogers is the best bet to advance against the 19-year-old, who doesn’t seem to be playing at full-strength just yet.
The Pick: Shelby Rogers