43rd-ranked Shelby Rogers takes world No. 1 Ash Barty out of U.S. Open

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NEW YORK — Shelby Rogers lingered on the court and panned her phone around at the fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium for a snapshot souvenir of the scene after she beat Ash Barty for the first time.

Not just at the U.S. Open.

Ever.

Rogers was winless in five meetings — four this year — against the No. 1 player, forcing the last American left in the women’s draw to mix up her methodology.

Urged on by a raucous crowd, Rogers smacked moon balls, stayed patient — and waited as a rattled Barty hit a slew of unforced errors that led to another early exit at Flushing Meadows for the reigning Wimbledon champion.

Rogers rallied from down 5-2 in the third set to upset Barty 6-2, 1-6, 7-5 (5) on Saturday night for the biggest win of the 28-year-old’s career.

“I just tried to get the crowd into it. I said, `You know what, if I’m going to go down, I’m going to give a last dying effort,’” she said.

She found her serve, tinkered with approach and steeled her will against the top player in the game and pulled off the improbable comeback.

“You find ways to stay in the present and stay not thinking about I’m down 5-2,” Rogers said.

Rogers had been 0-6 lifetime against top-seeded players.

Barty gave her plenty of help to end the streak. Barty had not dropped a set in the tournament but was sloppy from the start. She made 17 unforced errors in the first set and then three more when she held a 5-2 lead in the third that let Rogers back in. Rogers broke Barty twice in the third when Barty served for the match.

“I played a pretty awful first set in the sense where I was erratic,” Barty said. “I couldn’t quite find the rhythm of how I wanted to play.”

Rogers was a quarterfinalist in New York a year ago, while Barty owns titles from the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon this July but never has been past the fourth round at Flushing Meadows.

Rogers laughed as she referenced the self-deprecating quote, “Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row,” made after he finally beat Jimmy Connors.

“Every time I lost to her, I can’t be mad because she’s such a nice person,” Rogers said. “It’s like, `Man, she just kicked my butt.′ Then it’s like, `Oh, you’re going to find it one day.’”

Rogers didn’t have to last that long to snap her winless streak against Barty.

As they are for most Americans, the Ashe crowd roared for Rogers on every winner, and she waved her arms and exhorted the fans to get louder.

No fans were allowed to attend the U.S. Open a year ago because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“The crowd is next-level this year,” Rogers told the fans at Arthur Ashe Stadium. “You’ve picked who you want to win, so thank you for picking me tonight.”

Barty was unable to avoid the rash of upsets that have hit the tournament. A day after defending champion Naomi Osaka and two of the top five men, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andrey Rublev were beaten, Barty went down to the 43rd-ranked Rogers.

Rogers next faces unseeded 18-year-old Emma Raducanu, who used a 6-0, 6-1 victory over Sara Sorribes Tormo to advance.

Asked about Raducanu, Rogers — who placed her hands on her head in amazement and blew kisses to the crowd after the win — wanted to talk about the win.

She even apologized to fellow American Jack Sock, who was on-deck to play Alexander Zverev at Ashe. She needed 2 hours, 8 minutes to beat Barty and she wanted a few more moments to soak in the win.

“Jack, I know you want to play, but I kind of want to stay out here,” she said.

She laughed when she had no idea the moderator in charge of the session with reporters was trying to ask her about her week in New York.

“I’m not used to this press conference thing, sorry,” she said, laughing.

The 25-year-old Barty became the first Australian woman to win Wimbledon since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980 and has won five titles overall this year.

Pretty good. But not good enough in New York.

“I just didn’t quite have enough in the tank,” she said. “I’ve left everything out on the court this year. It was no different tonight.”

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Japanese pair edges Americans for historic Grand Prix Final figure skating title

Riku Miura, Ryuichi Kihara
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Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won the biggest title ever for a Japanese figure skating pair, taking the Grand Prix Final and consolidating their status as the world’s top active team.

Miura and Kihara, last season’s world silver medalists, barely outscored world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier in Turin, Italy, in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate to win the six-pair event that is a preview of March’s worlds.

The Japanese totaled 214.58 points, distancing the Americans by a mere 1.3 points after Frazier erred on both of their side-by-side jumping passes in the free skate. Italians Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii took bronze.

“We had a very late start to our season than initially planned, so as we have been performing at each event, I see us getting stronger, improving things,” said Frazier, who with Knierim had their best short program and free skate scores of the autumn.

Knierim and Frazier didn’t decide to continue competing together this season until July.

“I feel a little personally disappointed tonight just for myself for my jumps,” Frazier continued. “I was a little all over the place and, normally, I can execute better, so I feel a little bad, but I’m very proud of us overall. We’ve done a great job of improving each competition and looking forward to the second half of the season where we can start tapping into our best skating.”

GRAND PRIX FINAL: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Miura and Kihara, who partnered in June 2019 and train in Ontario, both waited with trepidation for their final score to be posted, worried that each’s separate mistake on jumps might cost them the title. When they learned they won, both burst into tears.

“This was the first time in eight years that I made a mistake with a Salchow, so I thought we might not get a good score, and it would be my fault,” Kihara said.

Miura and Kihara entered the competition ranked No. 1 in the world by best scores this season ahead of Knierim and Frazier, who in March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979.

Last season, Miura and Kihara became the second Japanese pair to make a Grand Prix podium and to earn a world championships medal. Their ascension helped Japan win its first Olympic figure skating team event medal in February (a bronze that could be upgraded to gold pending the Kamila Valiyeva case).

In Grand Prix Final history, Japan had won 11 gold medals and 40 total medals, all in singles, before this breakthrough.

Knierim and Frazier, already the first U.S. pair to compete in the Grand Prix Final since 2015, became the first U.S. pair to win a Grand Prix Final medal. The Final has been held annually since 1996, though it was canceled the last two seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Miura and Kihara and Knierim and Frazier ascended to the top of the sport while the top five teams from the Olympics from Russia and China have not competed internationally since the Winter Games.

All Russian skaters are ineligible for international competition due to the war in Ukraine. China’s pairs, including Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, didn’t enter last March’s worlds and did not compete in the fall Grand Prix Series.

Later Friday, world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan led the women’s short program with 75.86 points, 1.28 ahead of countrywoman Mai Mihara. American Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old world junior champion, was fifth of six skaters in her Grand Prix Final debut.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier topped the rhythm dance with 85.93 points, edging Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates by .44. Both couples are bidding for the biggest international title of their careers. None of the Olympic medalists competed internationally this fall.

The Grand Prix Final ends Saturday with the men’s and women’s free skates and free dance, all live on Peacock.

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A Winter Olympic medal still being decided, 10 months later

Fanny Smith, Daniela Maier
It's still unknown whether Fanny Smith (green) or Daniela Maier (blue) is the Olympic ski cross bronze medalist. (Getty)
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There is a second Winter Olympic medal result still in question, 10 months after the Games.

While the figure skating team event results are still unknown due to the Kamila Valiyeva case, the bronze medal in women’s ski cross is also in dispute.

Originally, Swiss Fanny Smith crossed the finish line in third place in the four-woman final at the Winter Games in February. Upon review by the International Ski Federation (FIS) jury, she was minutes later demoted to fourth place after making contact with German Daniela Maier near the end of the course. Maier, who originally was fourth, was upgraded to bronze.

“I tried to be OK with the fourth place. I was very disappointed, I have to say, [then] the jury was like this,” Maier said then. “I am really sorry for Fanny that it’s like this right now. … The jury decided like this, so accept it and be happy with the medal.”

Smith and the Swiss ski federation appealed. FIS reinstated Smith as the bronze medalist nine days after the race and six days after the Closing Ceremony. A FIS appeals commission met four times and reviewed video and written documentation for several hours before deciding that “the close proximity of the racers at that moment resulted in action that was neither intentional or avoidable.”

But that wasn’t the end. The case ended up reportedly going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), whose rulings are usually accepted as final. The CAS process is ongoing, European media reported this week.

CAS has not responded to a request for comment. A FIS contact said Friday, “There is currently no update to provide in regards to the bronze medal in ski cross. Should there be any update, we will inform you.”

Smith said there should be news soon regarding the case, according to Blick.

Maier still has the bronze medal at her home and enjoys looking at it, according to German media, which also reported that the German ski federation expects Maier to win the case and keep the medal. Smith and Maier spoke extensively about it in recent training sessions and cleared things up. Maier said the best outcome would be bronze medals for both of them, according to the report.

For now, FIS lists Smith as the bronze medalist. The IOC lists Maier as the bronze medalist.

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