Charleston touring tennis professional Shelby Rogers left Rio de Janeiro feeling better about her game than when she arrived in Brazil.
Even before suffering a 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 loss to 35-year-old former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone in Sunday’s final of the $250,000 Rio Open, Rogers said, “I came in with pretty high expectations and I’ve gone above and beyond that.”
After the 1 hour, 47-minute clay-court struggle in the second appearance of her career in a WTA Tour final, Rogers said, “It was definitely one of the best weeks of my life. I hope I can come back next year.”
Rogers, a 23-year-old who should climb from her No. 131 ranking to a spot near the top 100 as a result of her play in Rio, appeared headed for her initial WTA Tour title after Schiavone double-faulted away the first game of the second set. But that’s just when the tide changed in favor of Schiavone.
Rogers faced, and lost, her first break point in the next game as service problems suddenly found a place in her game.
Rogers, whose payday as the runner-up was $21,400, won only nine of 22 service points in the second set and one of nine second-service points in the final set. Meanwhile, Schiavone yielded just two points on her serve in the third set.
“It was a very tough match and I want to congratulate Rogers. She is a young player and she grew a lot in the circuit,” said Schiavone, who used the win to vault from a No. 132 ranking into the top 100.