WHAT HAPPENED: Playing her fourth match in three days, Shelby Rogers was due to run out of gas eventually. But it was No. 11 seed Flavia Pennetta that needed to over come a sluggish start to take out the 21-year-old American, 6-4, 6-3, to advance to the third round.
The Italian, playing in her ninth US Open, looked overmatched early by Rogers, who was unafraid to take chances against her higher-ranked opponent. Rogers played her first-round mixed doubles and women’s doubles matches on Wednesday with little rest time in between. With an early 11 a.m. start time, the turnaround proved to be too much for Rogers as Pennetta wore her down, converting all five of her break points and committing just 12 unforced errors.
It was an efficient match in the first set as the two traded forehand winners. Rogers had little margin of error against the Italian and held serve until the ninth game, when two unforced errors doomed Rogers as Pennetta captured a double break point.
After three straight breaks in serve to start the second set, Pennetta seemed to find her rhythm, breaking down the American with long rallies and smashing five ground-stroke winners en route to a straight-sets victory.
The loss ends Rogers’ US Open after she dropped both of her doubles matches just a day earlier.
WHAT IT MEANS: Pennetta’s best Grand Slam result came last year, when the Italian veteran knocked off fellow countrywomen Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci and No. 27 seed Svetlana Kuznetsova before falling to Victoria Azarenka in the semifinals. Pennetta needed three sets to take down Julia Goerges in the first round and a quick hour and 12 minute match against Rogers on Thursday. With Ana Ivanovic falling early, it could be a clear path for Pennetta to reach at least the quarterfinals.
Though Rogers is heading home, it’s been a summer of growth after reaching the final at Bad Gastein, beating Alize Cornet and Eugenie Bouchard during the Emirates Airline US Open Series and reaching the second round of the US Open for the first time in her career.
THE QUESTION: Can Pennetta return to the semifinals?