It has been a tumultuous eight days at the US Open, with stars as well as yeomen struggling through matches in 90-plus degree temperatures. Just 15 hours earlier, Roger Federer admitted the stifling temperatures were too much for him to handle. The heat that generated more headlines than matches during the first few days abated, but Monday it came roaring back, and Tuesday, it held the tournament in its suffocating grasp.
Even as Stephens fought for her competitive life at Arthur Ashe Stadium, tournament officials were in the process of suspending play among juniors on the National Tennis Center’s outside courts. The oppressive conditions affected both women’s quarterfinalists.
Even the usually voluble crowd at Ashe was somnolent. When Stephens cracked a monstrous forehand winner to fend off a break point while serving at 0-1 in second set, it seemed to take an extra second for the spectators to process what they’d seen and muster a passable cheer.