Tennis is a game of bounces like most sports. One day, the ball bounces your way, the next it doesn't.
The ball looks like a basketball one day and a ping pong ball the next. Or even the next set.
Shelby Rogers was seeing the tennis ball like a basketball her middle two matches in the Volvo Car Open. She was hitting the ball as well or better than anyone in the tournament.
Obviously, something changed in Friday's quarterfinals. Apparently, it was a strained abdominal muscle.
But the way Marjana Lucic-Baroni hit the ball or the way the ball came off her racket might have played a role, too.
Lucic-Baroni's quick strokes in Roger Federer fashion may have been part of the reason for Rogers' downfall in the quarterfinals. The way her strokes hug the net with such velocity has to make it difficult on her opponents.
The ball surely had a different look to Rogers on Friday than it had the night before against powerful Naomi Osaka, and even the evening before that against top seed Madison Keys. Rogers dug fastball after fastball out of the clay in those two matches.
But Lucic-Baroni threw curveballs, and Rogers didn't hit them well, especially the last two sets.
First set not pretty
To be truthful, neither player played well in the first set, except for spots, sometimes on big points. Rogers seldom nailed big shot after big shot or her big serve the way she had earlier in the week.
Then it happened, a reversed line call against Rogers in the second game of the second set that changed what would have been a double-break point against Lucic-Baroni to 30-30. Rogers dropped the next 11 games in a 6-7 (7), 6-1, 6-1 loss.
And the court suddenly went shaded from afternoon shadows. By the time the shadows lifted a bit, Rogers was in the land of no return. Her energy appeared to wither away, while her 35-year-old opponent obviously sensed it was her time to take charge.
Of course, Rogers wouldn't blame her loss on not being able to see the ball well or being injured. It was what it was, a loss. A win, in Lucic-Baroni's case.
Even with her heavy sunglasses, Lucic-Baroni said it was difficult to see. But she admitted the sunglasses helped with the glare.
Of course, the shadows didn't seem to affect the Croatian the last two sets.
This loss doesn't take anything away from Rogers' great week. Who would have dreamed that a player from Charleston could actually challenge the best players in the world and win all the way to the quarterfinals of the Volvo Car Open?
I don't think I had seen a stadium of fans on Daniel Island come together in the way the crowd came together for Rogers in her comeback first-round victory. It was great.
This tournament will be remembered as the one Shelby Rogers made the quarterfinals. That is, until the hometown girl takes it one step farther and makes the semifinals or final. Or even wins this event. She's close.
And now, Lucic-Baroni goes against a player just over half her age, 19-year-old Jelena Ostapenko. And maybe another 19-year-old in the final, Daria Kasatkina of Russia. And don't forget the drop-shot girl, Laura Siegemund.
Of course, it could be just a teen party in the final. No seeds allowed.
At any rate, it will be a Volvo Car Open to remember.
Don't forget the big thunderstorms on Monday and Wednesday nights. I'll never forget being evacuated with the rest of the media from the media tent during Wednesday night's storm and interviewing Shelby Rogers on the stadium concourse as a heavy rain soaked the stadium court.
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org.