*Zheng 1-6, 2-2 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Sabalenka drops the opening point, but responds with a vicious backhand winner. The two trade points, Zheng slowly growing in confidence and briefly throwing her rival off her rhythm. Even so, Sabalenka stays laser-focused. She closes out the game with power and poise.
Zheng 1-6, 2-1 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
Zheng produces her first ace of the match and looks relatively comfortable, but then makes an unforced error and allows Sabalenka back into the game. Her opponent squanders the opportunity, however, lashing a wild shot well wide.
*Zheng 1-6, 1-1 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
While Zheng’s service game has improved, it’s hard to see her conjuring up a break. Sabalenka rounds things off with an artful slice.
Zheng 1-6, 1-0 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
Sabalenka wins the first point of the second set with a thunderous backhand, but overhits a couple of shots, is thrown off by a smart forehand from Zheng and then, in the decisive rally, crashes a shot into the net.
After that brief blip, normal service resumes. Other than a wayward shot that whistles beyond the baseline, Sabalenka produces another ice-cold service game to secure the first set.
Zheng 1-5 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
Zheng shows her fighting spirit, winning a couple of rallies with forehand winners down the line. Sabalenka momentarily loses her range and, with a solid final serve, her opponent finally gets on the scoreboard.
*Zheng 0-5 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
It’s another easy hold for Sabalenka. This has been an absolutely ruthless performance so far.
Zheng 0-4 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
The first set already looks to have slipped through Zheng’s fingers. Sabalenka gets the better of the opening exchange after charging to the net and smashing a shot beyond her opponent’s reach, thrashes her way to 40-0, drops a point and then, barely acknowledging the fact, finishes off with a massive forehand smash.
*Zheng 0-3 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Sabalenka rattles off another hold to love. She’s now won 12 points to Zheng’s two.
Zheng 0-2 Sabalenka* (*denotes next server)
Sabalenka breaks immediately, dragging Zheng about the court with ominous ease. Having won the first three points to love the Belarusian misses a clincher, then cedes another point, but Zheng clips the net just as it looks she might pull it back to deuce and the ball veers out.
*Zheng 0-1 Sabalenka (*denotes next server)
Sabalenka breezes through her opening service game, playing a series of crisp, clean shots with good variety. Zheng has the sun in her eyes and seems a little dazzled, failing to register a point.
Zheng and Sabalenka are out on the court. Meanwhile, Azarenka and Haddad Maia have just edged the first set against Siegemund and Zvonareva 7-5.
It’s almost time for Zheng’s clash with Sabalenka, the world No 1 in waiting. While the former is on a career-best grand slam run, the latter is looking to reach her third straight semi-final at Flushing Meadows.
As well as the singles action, the women’s doubles quarter-finals are under way. Laura Siegemund and Vera Zvonareva are currently tied 3-3 against Victoria Azarenka and Beatriz Haddad Maia in the first set of their match at Louis Armstrong Stadium, while Pegula and Coco Gauff face Hsieh Su-wei and Wang Xinyu later on.
As she awaits her meeting with Vondrousova, Keys has spoken to Sky Sports about her strong showing at the tournament so far. “I think I played a really high level,” she says, when asked about her 6-1, 6-3 win against Jessica Pegula in the last 16. “Jess is a phenomenal player so I knew I was going to have to play some of my best tennis. Luckily it all worked out.”
Reflecting on the challenge of facing Vondrousova, she adds: “Obviously she’s playing at a really, really great level, having won her first grand slam. She’s already kind of a crafty, tricky player, so I think I’m definitely going to have to keep her on her toes a little bit.”
Another day, another wild ride in the US Open. After Ben Shelton’s helter-skelter win against Frances Tiafoe, another home talent, Madison Keys, takes to the court later on for what promises to be a gripping quarter-final against Marketa Vondrousova, the reigning Wimbledon champion.
Before then, however, Qinwen Zheng will battle Aryna Sabalenka for a place in the semis and, in the men’s singles, Daniil Medvedev will look to overcome Andrey Rublev. There’s also the small matter of Carlos Alcaraz’s meeting with Alexander Zverev. No shortage of drama to come, then.