BY JAMES BECK
Special to The Post and Courier
Shelby Rogers is on quite a roll in Europe.
The 21-year-old touring tennis pro from Charleston has won her last five matches, including three straight over world's top 100 opponents. In the process, Rogers has achieved the dream of advancing to her first WTA Tour semifinal.
Rogers took advantage of the serving woes of 40th-ranked Camila Giorgi of Italy to break service in the first game of the match on a doublefault, and Rogers never trailed again in scoring a 6-1, 7-5 victory over Giorgi on Friday in the quarterfinals of the WTA Tour's $250,000 red-clay tournament in Bad Gastein, Austria.
The victory came one day after Rogers, a mere qualifier ranked No. 147 in the world, upended 16th-ranked Carla Suarez Navarro. Of course, the road gets even tougher for Rogers in Saturday's second semifinal (approximately 10 a.m. Charleston time) where she will oppose 14th-ranked second seed Sara Errani of Italy.
"I am going to enjoy the moment . . . it's my first time in the semifinals and the first time playing that higher-ranked player (Errani)," Rogers said.
Errani, a gritty 5-4 1/2 clay-courter, posted a 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 win over Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa in the quarterfinals. Current Family Circle Cup champion Andrea Petkovic of Germany (No. 4 seed) and 20-year-old American Grace Min also advanced, and will meet in Saturday's first semifinal.
"We (Rogers and Min) are actually good friends. It's a pretty exciting tournament for both us (in semifinals first time). Thankfully, we're on opposite ends of the draw, so hopefully we can have an all-American final," Rogers said.
After Giorgi, the seventh seed, donated three doublefaults in the opening game, Rogers sailed to a 4-0 lead.
Rogers was broken only in the fifth game of the second set after she had charged to a 3-1 lead. But the big-hitting Daniel Island product bounced back to hold service at love in the 11th game, then ended the 92-minute match with a service break at love -- with the aid of another Giorgi doublefault.
Giorgi often made things easier for Rogers by serving up 11 doublefaults. Rogers, who now has won nine of her last 11 matches, had five doublefaults, but saved five of the six break points she faced.
"She (Giorgi) is a big hitter. She can hit a lot of winners," Rogers said. "It's just making one more ball . . . one more ball."
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org. See his latest columns on Wimbledon and Grand Slam Tennis at www.ubitennis.com/english/tag/james-beck