Monday, September 4, 2023

Bandaged and wounded, Vondrousova prevails at the U.S. Open

Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova had to withdraw from doubles (a sad affair, since this was her partner Barbora Strycova's final event) because of an elbow injury. The Czech star stated that she thinks that the heavier ball was the cause. She also showed up for her singles round of 16 match with Kinesio tape all over her left shoulder, and--before too long--it was obvious that she was somewhat hampered by pain.

Vondrousova's opponent, Peyton Stearns, hit the ground running, and took the first set 7-6. Things didn't look that good for Vondrousova, but right about the time that one would have expected the anti-inflammatory med that she took to kick in, there was indeed a noticeable difference. And as Vondrousova pulled herself together, Stearns began to fade, though she continued to put whatever pressure she could on her opponent. But Vondrousova's serving was too good, and she won the match 6-7, 6-3, 6-2. This is the Czech player's first time to advance to the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open.

Another ailing star, 2022 finalist Ons Jabeur, who has felt ill throughout the tournament, finally ran out of fuel. Jabeur broke her opponent, Zheng Qinwen, when she served for the match, then went on to save three match points, but it wasn't enough. Zheng defeated her 6-2, 6-4.

Meanwhile, 3rd seed Jessica Pegula, the U.S.'s top ranked player, fell to countrywoman Madison Keys is straight sets. Montreal champion Pegula has never gotten past the quarterfinals of a major, and at this event, she didn't get that far. Keys didn't let her. The 2017 finalist dominated Pegula with her backhand and wound up hitting 21 winners in her 6-1, 6-3 victory.

Finally, soon-to-be world number 1 Aryna Sabalenka faced off against Daria Kasatkina. The Russian star, for all her graceful athleticism and strategic skill, doesn't have the kind of serve that can go far against Sabalenka (Kasatkina didn't even hold serve until the fifth game of the second set) unless Sabalenka is making a whole lot of errors, which--form time to time--she certainly does. But tonight, the 2nd seed was on point most of the time. She defeated Kasatkina 6-1, 6-3, hit 31 winners, and broke her opponent six times.

Here is the quarterfinal draw:

Alona Ostapenko (20) vs. Coco Gauff (6)
Sorana Cirstea (30) vs. Karolina Muchova (10)
Marketa Vondrousova (9) vs. Madison Keys (17)
Zheng Qinwen (23) vs. 

In other U.S. Open news, top seeds Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova went out in the second round. Sadly, this wasn't exactly unexpected; Krejcikova is in the midst of a significant slump in both singles and doubles. And in mixed doubles, top seeds Jess Pegula and partner Austin Krajcek have advanced to the quarterfinals. If they win, they will play Taylor Townsend and Ben Shelton.

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