After a sizzling win over sister Venus, Serena Williams looks to impose her authority on wildcard compatriot Rogers in the…
After a sizzling win over sister Venus, Serena Williams looks to impose her authority on wildcard compatriot Rogers in the Top Seed Open quarterfinals.
Serena vs Rogers is live from Lexington on Friday 14 August at 12.30pm local/5.30pm BST
Serena Williams had to produce some of her very best tennis – and sustain that level for two hours and 21 minutes – to beat elder sister Venus in what had to be one of the highest-quality contests of their long, storied rivalry, booking her place in the Top Seed Open quarterfinals as a result.
Can Williams avoid a let-down in intensity, and weather the physical demands, of facing wildcard Shelby Rogers and overcoming her for a place in the Lexington semifinals on Friday?
Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.
How to watch Serena vs Rogers live
Top Seed Open matches including Serena Williams vs Shelby Rogers are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.
Williams vs Rogers: Head-to-head
This will be the first meeting between Serena Williams and Shelby Rogers.
Williams vs Rogers: Preview
After two rounds in Lexington, the first tournament to be played on US soil since early March, just two seeds are left standing: Eighth seed Ons Jabeur, who faces Coco Gauff today, and top seed Serena Williams.
Back-to-back victories haven’t come without a fight for Williams in her first tournament since a Fed Cup tie on home soil in early February. She had to come back from a set down against lefty Bernarda Pera, sharp from playing World Team Tennis, in the first round. But that was nothing compared to the challenge mounted by elder sister Venus in the second.
The 31st match between the legendary sisters was contested in strange surroundings: A solo court, no fans, but that only added to the intensity. Despite having turned 40 during the shutdown, Venus had returned to competition with a new and improved serve and some of the best tennis she’s played in years. Serena lifted her level immensely from the first round, but it still wasn’t enough to keep from losing the first set despite leading by an early break and having three break points for a double break.
Ultimately, Venus’s new service motion proved slightly too iffy – 11 double faults for six aces – while Serena delivered 14 aces and six double faults, finding some of her best and biggest serves of the entire day as she closed out the match after having finally broken through with a backhand winner down the line.
Williams said afterwards that she felt like she needed to win that tight set because she had been losing a lot of them, and it did have the feeling of catharsis. The interesting thing will be to see how she bounces back from that match both physically and mentally.
Some sort of letdown in intensity is to be expected. Is Shelby Rogers the opponent to take advantage? I’m not sure. Rogers is certainly a much better player than her current ranking of world no. 116; the wildcard was a top-50 player in 2017, a year after reaching the quarterfinals of the French Open (her game works beautifully on clay), but was only able to play two matches in 2018 due to injury and has been rebuilding since returning in April 2019.
The rebuilding has gone well – from being unranked on her return, Rogers began 2020 up to world no. 174 and is already not far off returning to the top 100 after successfully qualifying for the Australian Open (she actually bagelled eventual champion Garbine Muguruza in the first set) and winning the Midland $100k in February. In Lexington, she’s had good wins over erratic lefty Misaki Doi and rising Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez to reach her first WTA Tour quarterfinal since May 2017.
Rogers is a big server, a big hitter off the ground, not a great mover. As such, she’s a fairly straightforward match up for Williams. Rogers might conceivably catch fire and hit every line for a set, but she wouldn’t be able to sustain it, not if Serena plays 70% as well as she did against Venus. A straight-sets win for Williams looks like the likeliest outcome.