Hello and welcome to soggy Flushing Meadows for tonight’s all-American showdown between Sloane Stephens and Coco Gauff. Soaking rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ida have wiped out play on the outer courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center for the time being, but we’re safely under the roof at Arthur Ashe Stadium for a second-round cracker that will pit the 2017 US Open champion against the youngest player (and highest-ranked American) remaining in the women’s draw.
It’s been four years since Stephens’ stunning run to the championship in Queens, when she became the fifth unseeded woman in the Open era to win a grand slam singles title only 69 days after her return from an 11-month injury layoff and six weeks after her ranking dropped all the way to 957th in the world. The 28-year-old battled inconsistency over the past year, reaching the third round at Roland Garros and Wimbledon but dropping to 66th in the rankings from her career peak of No 3 in 2018.
Gauff, the No 21 seed and the youngest player in the WTA’s top 100, is back on Ashe for the first time since reaching the third round on her main-draw debut back in 2019. That was a night she’d rather forget: a 6-3, 6-0 loss to Naomi Osaka that left her in tears. Two years later, the 17-year-old emerging star is back under the lights at her home slam with a spot in the third round on the line – and a potential fourth-round date with Osaka looming.
The players will be taking the court for their warm-up in 10 minutes or so.