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Sabalenka Routs Rogers To Reach Third Round In Miami

Mar 26th 2023

Sabalenka routs Rogers 6-4, 6-3 to reach Miami Open third round

Aryna Sabalenka is sprinting into spring. The twenty-four year old has equaled her career high rank of #2 - first attained in August of 2021 - following her stunning triumph at the Australian Open this past January for her first grand slam title and reaching the final last weekend at Indian Wells (l.Rybakina). The charismatic and entertaining Belarusian is looking for title #13 and first at the Masters 1000 level. Her best performance in Miami to date was the quarters in 2021.

Shelby Rogers is still seeking her first career title. The thirty-year-old from Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina achieved a career high rank of #30 but is currently ranked #42. In her opening round she dispatched the 2017 US Open champion Sloan Stephens in three sets.

This was their fourth career meeting with Sabalenka leading the head-to-head 3-0 including a straight sets defeat down under in January. With impressive wins over multiple grand slam winners including Serena Williams, Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova and Bianca Andreescu , Rogers was hoping for another in south Florida.

 Wilfredo Lee / AP Photo

Sabalenka won the toss and elected to serve. The #2 seed held easily to 15 with a fantastic forehand crosscourt and an ace out wide while Rogers donated three backhand errors and dumped serve following a formidable return.

Sabalenka missed 3/5 first serves but held to 15 to consolidate the break for 3-0. Rogers got on the board with three spectacular winners and a love hold. Sabalenka returned the favor with three winners and a love hold for 4-1. Love was in the air as they both held at love in their next service games with well struck groundstrokes and an ace.

Rogers served with new balls down 2-5. She donated a double fault, faced two deuce, and set point but battled to hold for 3-5 with an ace up the tee. Sabalenka opened the 9th with a monster serve out wide but with her first double fault and a netted backhand, dropped serve.

Sabalenka struck two winners, one off the return to earn set point and Rogers conceded the set with a netted a backhand off a splendid inside-out forehand slice.

Sabalenka served first in the second and appeared to have injured her hamstring or groin. She threw in another double fault, faced break point, and with a netted backhand, dumped serve. She requested a visit from the physio prior to the conclusion of the opening game and while remaining on court, received a medical time out.

Rogers maintained her focus and with well-struck serves including her third ace, consolidated the break despite facing double break point. Sabalenka hit her second ace and with two consecutive winners, held to 30 for 1-2.

Rogers made 3/5 first serves and held easily to 15 for 3-1 and Sabalenka returned the favor with two forehand winners for 2-3. Rogers faced triple break point as Sabalenka continued to pummel the ball especially on the return and dumped serve when she overcooked a running forehand. She opened the 7th with an ace out wide and with a colossal forehand down the line and potent serve up the tee, consolidated the break at love for 4-3. Rogers missed 4/4 first serves and dumped serve following two unforced errors and two extraordinary winners from her opponent.

Sabalenka despite the physical impairment, found a way forward and into the third round. After 80 minutes, she closed out the set and match with her fourth ace and a marvelous crosscourt backhand.

She finished with twenty-four winners, fifteen unforced errors and converted 4/7 break points. She was most impressive on serve winning 86% of first and 52% of second serve points and was similarly effective on return winning 37% of first serve and 65% of second serve return points.

While not necessarily a high-octane or riveting match, the #2 seed showcased all the tools in her toolbox, playing with conviction and composure. Maria Bouzkova also twenty-four, awaits in the third round. The #31 seed from the Czech Republic is currently ranked #36 but reached #24 last December. This will be their first tour level meeting with a coveted spot in the round of sixteen on the line.