Breaking into the winner's circle on the WTA Tour doesn't come easily.
Charleston touring pro Shelby Rogers will vouch for that after suffering a 6-3, 6-3 loss to 20th-ranked Andrea Petkovic of Germany on Sunday in the final of the $250,000 red-clay tournament in Bad Gastein, Austria.
Everything seemed to fall Rogers' way in her first six matches at Bad Gastein as she upset four top 100 players - including three top 40 and two top 20 players - en route to her first WTA Tour final. The fourth-year touring pro had never been past the second round in a WTA Tour event.
But reigning Family Circle Cup champion Petkovic, the No. 4 seed in the tournament, wore the glass slipper this time, taking her second Bad Gastein title and the more than $47,000 payday.
Rogers settled for the second prize of approximately $23,500. Not bad for a player who arrived in Austria ranked 147th in the world and just hoping to advance through qualifying. She ended up defeating Nos. 2 and 3 seeds Sara Errani and Carla Suarez Navarro (ranked 14th and 16th) in straight sets.
Even with the loss, Rogers' world ranking is projected to climb past her career-best No. 109 ranking to a spot near the top 100.
"Surprisingly, I wasn't nervous for the final. I thought I would be, but I thought I was OK today," Rogers said.
The final was decided in a six-game stretch after the two players had exchanged service breaks and appeared headed for a close match deadlocked at 3 in the first set. Petkovic yielded only two points on her next three service games, taking advantage of erratic serving and groundstrokes by Rogers to break the Daniel Island product three straight times.
From 3-3 to 6-3, 3-0, that was pretty much the match in a nutshell. Petkovic could see the finish line.
Petkovic, a 26-year-old former world's No. 9, suffered a pair of service breaks before claiming her second WTA Tour title of the year and fourth overall with a service break of Rogers at love to end the 73-minute final.
"She (Petkovic) played well," Rogers said about the 2014 French Open semifinalist. "I am feeling the matches. I played a lot. My body is feeling it. But she played incredible. She's always a tough competitor."
Although Rogers left Bad Gastein otherwise feeling great, she was uncertain if she had locked up a berth in the main draw of the U.S. Open. She skipped the first two events in the USTA's U.S. Open wild-card series to play in Austria, eliminating herself from that competition.
"Hopefully, I'll be in the (U.S. Open) main draw. It will be close, but we'll see where the cut is," Rogers said Sunday.
She confirmed again Sunday that she plans to play only the last wild-card event, starting July 21 in Lexington, Ky., where she won last year to earn a wild card into the 2013 U.S. Open.
"I'm be going back to the States . going home now so I'll be excited about that," she said. "I am so happy with my whole week. It was incredible."
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.
Shelby Rogers of Charleston fell 6-3, 6-3 to Andrea Petkovic during Sunday’s title match in Bad Gastein, Austria.×
Shelby Rogers of the United States reacts during her final match against Germany's Andrea Petkovic at the WTA tennis tournament in Bad Gastein, Austria, Sunday, July 13, 2014. Petkovic won with 6-3 and 6-3. (AP Photo/ Kerstin Joensson)×