Shelby Rogers fought the odds hard, but the fifth game of each set did her in Tuesday in the first round of the French Open in Paris.
Russian left-hander Ekaterina Makarova broke Rogers' service in both of those games and maintained the upper hand each time to score a 6-2, 6-3 victory over the 21-year-old tennis pro from Daniel Island.
The veteran Makarova, ranked 23rd in the world, had her hands full with Rogers' big strokes and serves in splitting the first four games of each set. But eventually, the red clay of Roland Garros was far more friendlier to Makarova's big, but more consistent, groundstrokes.
This was an especially tough loss for Rogers from a rankings standpoint in that she was defending 100 WTA Tour points she had earned a year earlier while claiming her initial Grand Slam tournament win. Entering this French Open as a Grand Slam direct entry for the first time, Rogers is currently ranked 138th in the world after holding a career-high 109th ranking just two months ago.
In a nutshell, the fifth game of the first set turned the tide in Makarova's favor as she broke service in a deuce game, then held service easily in the next game for a 4-2 lead.
In the second set, Rogers fought back. After rallying from 15-40 to hold service in the three-deuce first game, she exchanged service breaks in the third and fourth games to even the set at 2-2 before once again yielding a service break in the fifth game.
In suffering an eighth straight loss, Rogers failed to produce an ace as the 25-year-old Makarova had 11 break points, and hit more winners and less unforced errors than Rogers.
Rogers now plans to remain in Europe to play the grass-court season and attempt to qualify for Wimbledon. She leaves Paris with $32,800 in earnings from the French Open.
Reach James Beck at email@example.com. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.
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