Charleston’s Shelby Rogers appears to be definitely on the way back to the top 100 in women’s tennis after charging into her second career WTA Tour final on Saturday with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over unseeded Romanian wild card Sorana Cirstea in the $250,000 Rio Open.
Rogers isn’t in the top 100 yet, but she is projected to advance approximately 25 spots from her current world’s No. 131 ranking on the basis of her fourth straight win in Rio. Her career high ranking is 70th.
The Charleston 23-year-old almost surely would advance into the top 100 again if she managed to upend 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone in Sunday’s final in Rio de Janeiro. Of course, the Rio surface is clay, which is Schiavone’s game.
Currently ranked No. 132, Schiavone is a former world’s No. 4 player. The 35-year-old Italian polished off Petra Martic of Croatia, 6-3, 6-3, in Saturday’s other semifinal.
“I don’t feel any pressure at all (facing Schiavone),” Rogers said. “She’s a great player. She’s very experienced. She is going to be at the top of her game. I have nothing to lose. I am going to go out and try to do what I’ve been doing all week, and enjoy the moment.”
Rogers came up with a service break in the ninth game of the second set against former world’s No. 21 Cirstea, who had held a 40-30 lead before having to hit a pair of second serves. Rogers then served out the match at 40-15.
“It was very hot today and she (Cirstea) hits the ball very hard. She hit a lot of winners. I knew I was going to have to weather the storm,” said Rogers, who already has earned a $21,400 paycheck in Rio.
“These type of moments are definitely confidence builders . . . when you win several matches in a row. But also fighting through some tough moments also builds your confidence and being able to close out matches like today are where I get my confidence.”
Rogers, whose only other final was in another $250,000 event in Bad Gastein, Austria, in 2014, served only 50 percent for the match against Cirstea, but won 22 points on the 35 first serves she put into play. She also saved 10 of 13 break points.
Reach James Beck at email@example.com.