New York: Zheng Qinwen routed last year’s U.S. Open runner-up Ons Jabeur 6-2, 6-4 Monday to move into the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows for her deepest run ever in a Grand Slam tournament.
Zheng, who is seeded No. 23, becomes the first Chinese player to reach the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open since Wang Qiang in 2019. She did it by overpowering the fifth-seeded Tunisian with an aggressive baseline game that produced 21 winners.
“I feel just super happy and excited to play in a big stadium and have a really good performance today,” the 20-year-old Zheng told the Louis Armstrong Stadium crowd.
For Jabeur, who committed 33 unforced errors and has appeared ill at times during her U.S. Open run, it was a disappointing finish after reaching the finals of three of the last five Grand Slam events, including the last two Wimbledons.
Zheng’s win mean three of last year’s four U.S. Open singles finalists are gone, leaving only second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka, a Belarussian who will take over the No. 1 spot in the WTA rankings because of the fourth-round loss by No. 1 seed Iga Swiatek.
Zheng will play the winner of the match later between Sabalenka and No. 13 Daria Kasatkina. That will give Zheng the chance to play for more history — to equal the best runs ever by Chinese players at the U.S. Open, semifinals appearances by Peng Shuai in 2014 and Li Na in 2013.
Earlier, Carlos Alcaraz had little trouble beating unseeded Matteo Arnaldi 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals, the third time in as many appearances he’s gotten at least that far at Flushing Meadows.
The No. 1-seeded Alcaraz, who is seeking to defend his title after winning Wimbledon in July, said afterward that he now prefers hard courts over any other surface and also likes playing under the Arthur Ashe Stadium roof. He enjoyed both against the 61st-ranked Arnaldi, an Italian who proved little match for Alcaraz’s power, which produced 31 winners.
By advancing to the round of eight, the 20-year-old Spaniard became the youngest player to reach three U.S. Open quarterfinals in the open era that dates to 1968 and the only player other than Andre Agassi to do so before turning 21.
Alcaraz next faces the winner of the night match on Ashe between sixth-seeded Jannik Sinner and No. 12-seeded Alexander Zverev.
Eighth-seeded Andrey Rublev of Russia slugged his way past Jack Draper of Britain 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to advance to his fourth U.S. Open quarterfinals and the ninth Grand Slam quarterfinals of his career. He will await the winner of the match later between third-seeded Daniil Medvedev, the 2021 U.S. Open champion, and 13th-seeded Alex de Minaur.
Earlier, Madison Keys overpowered fellow American Jessica Pegula 6-1, 6-3 in just over an hour to book her spot in the quarterfinals.
Keys, the No. 17 seed and 2017 runner-up at Flushing Meadows, converted on 77% of her first-serve points and used powerful ground strokes to keep rallies short — a little over three strokes on average — to make quick work of her third-seeded opponent and close friend.
For Pegula, it marked yet another Grand Slam disappointment. She has advanced to the quarterfinals in each major tournament but has yet to reach the final four.
Keys’ quarterfinals opponent will be ninth-seeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic, who came back to beat unseeded American Peyton Stearns 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-2 to keep her dream alive of a second straight Grand Slam title after winning Wimbledon.
“I actually didn’t expect it after Wimby, there was a lot of pressure,” Vondrousova said in her postmatch interview. “Let’s see what happens next.”