PARIS (Reuters) - A few years ago American Shelby Rogers was scurrying around court as a ball girl to the biggest names in tennis in her hometown WTA tournament.
On Friday, the Charleston resident was the one being chased by a throng of autograph hunters after she produced one of the biggest shocks at this year’s French Open by overwhelming twice Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the third round.
The 23-year-old, ranked 108th in the world, won 6-0 6-7(3) 6-0 to move into the last 16 of a grand slam for the first time.
“It’s pretty surreal. I‘m obviously at a loss of words. It’s really exciting,” a grinning Rogers told reporters.
For a sleep-deprived Kvitova, the day was anything but exciting.
“I felt just weird. I didn’t really sleep last night and it’s just difficult day today,” said 10th seed Kvitova, who last lost to a player ranked outside the top 100 in 2014.
”I was feeling very tired and my legs were very heavy.
“Nothing really worked today. It’s one of my worst losses in a grand slam.”
Drawing a blank in the first and third sets is definitely not something Kvitova is used to.
But there was little she could do to halt Rogers from experiencing what she described as one of the best moments of her life.
After watching Kvitova slap a forehand into the net on match point, a tearful Rogers dropped her racket in celebration before she ran to the players’ box to embrace her parents.
”There was a lot of noise and a lot of applause, and a
lot of emotions taking over. I immediately started crying, and it was a very incredible moment,” added Rogers, who credited her older sister Sabra for her success.
“I started playing tennis when I was four. My older sister played. I wanted to be like her, followed her into the sport. I owe her a lot, definitely.”
Although Sabra ditched her tennis career to become a psychologist, she still plays an important role in her little sister’s everyday life.
“She keeps me sane,” Shelby said as she descended into laughter.
”She has a lot of work with me but she’s very helpful.
“She’s so excited right now. I have gotten a long list of messages from her, so I can’t wait to call her. I‘m really excited.”
Rogers will next face Irina Begu of Romania.
Editing by Ed Osmond