Righto, first test: Vondrousova makes 15-40 and breaking here, without really having started playing, would be typical her. And when Stearns nets a forehand, we’re back on serve and she leads 4-3.
Vondrousova has to plough through deuce for her latest hold – she trails 4-2 – and the look on her coupon suggests she’s a little befuddled, whether by Stearns or the intense heat. Laura Robson was saying she thinks Stearns will become one of the best players in the world and you can see the mental aspect of endeavour and entitlement is right there.
Nice from Steans, who finds herself down 0-30 after Vondrousova flattens things out but responds to take the game from there. She really knows what’ she’s doing and it’s the Wimbledon champ trying to work her out while she plays her natural game.
One of the more adorable sorry not sorries.
Already, Vondrousova is mixing it up, taking pace off in a bid to quell Stearns’ fire. I imagine she’ll also target the backhand as it’s the weaker flank and she’s a lefty, but so far it’s not yet the case. Vondrousova holds to 30 and is on the board at 1-3.
Of course, after the elimination of Swiatek, all the players left in the draw will be looking at who’s left and wondering if this might be for them. Strangely, Coco Gauff is now favourite according to my bookie – I’d back Sabalenka, who’ll now be world no1 at the end of this, because I don’t think anyone has an answer to her power-game. Stearns consolidates – through deuce, but still looking good – to lead 3-0.
A double and a forehand winner help Stearns to 15-40, and though she then goes long, Vondrousova doesn’t do enough with a short ball so winds up swiping wide after Steanrs leaps back into the rally. The youngster breaks and leads 2-0.
Stearns opens with an ace down the T, then ends a rally with a terrific shoulder-high backhand down the line. She holds to 30 and looks nicely settled.
And away we go, Stearns to serve.
Vondrousova’s lost just 10 games in making it to here – again, unnoticed, having not yet played on Ashe – and looks so calm. Stearns, on the other hand, is a proper old skool-style competitor, and will doubtless be noising herself up with the Labor Day crowd behind her.
Sterans and Vondrousova make their way onto court, and play is but a few moments away.
I mentioned Ostapenko below, and here she is explaining how she beat Iga Swiatek last evening. When she’s playing well, I’m not sure there’s anyone I’d rather watch, and even when not, her commitment to leaving it all out there is a lot of what I love about sport.
What’s up dudes! Welcome to the US Open 2023 – day eight!
And what a day this promises to be. We begin on Armstrong with Marketa Vondrousova, the Wimbledon champion, who meets Peyton Stearns, the 21-year-old American. Though Stearns has made it this far without facing a seed, she beat Jelena Ostapenko – the woman of the moment and former French Open winner – at Roland-Garros, and nothing we know of her suggests she’ll shrink on the big occasion.
An hour later, we get going on Ashe, where Madison Keys – who’s sat about watching worse players win majors – meets Jessica Pegula knowing that if she brings her best self, she almost definitely wins and, –with the winner of the first match waiting in the quarters – has a decent shot at that too. Pegula, meanwhile, upped it in the decider to beat Elina Svitolina in the last round and, in the form of her life, will be desperate to improve on her last-eight Grand Slam best.
Following them, Carlos Alcaraz meets Matteo Arnaldi, the young conqueror of Cameron Norrie who’s also beaten Casper Ruud on clay. If it seems unlikely he can upset the world number one, second on Armstrong offers a better chance of a surprise with Jack Draper facing Andrey Rublev, another who, like Pegula, is established among the elite but struggling to take the next step.
And still there’s more! Third on Armstrong isOns Jabeur, who continues her quest for a major, any major, against Qinwen Zheng, before the day sesh concludes with Daniil Medvedev’s match against Alex de Minaur. Let’s go dudes!