Katie Boulter exited the US Open on Saturday night in New York to leave young Jack Draper as the last Brit standing in singles competition
The 27-year-old from Leicester picked up two fine wins in her opening two matches, but American world No 59 Stearns proved too strong on a breezy Court 17.
Stearns, a former NCAA Champion, who started the year outside the top 200, made it into the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time with a 6-4 6-3 victory.
“I played some 40k events at the start of the year. I played a lot of WTA’s and a lot of Grand Slams, a lot of qualies of Grand Slams – all very different and all tough matches in completely different ways,” said Boulter. “But this is the pinnacle of sport, playing the Grand Slams, this is where I want to be, playing main draws and getting to the second week of those.
“I do relish these opportunities. I’ve played the tough stuff and I’ve really earned my place here and I feel like I have to enjoy it and I really do enjoy it, so playing those matches whether it’s a win or a loss, I’m so grateful to be in a position where I am now because I’ve been through the other stuff as well.
“It was tough walking off that court but that is what makes me a better tennis player. I’m hungry for so much more and I really want to be greedy.”
Boulter was gunning for revenge having lost to Stearns across three tie-breaks and three-and-half hours in Texas in February.
But this was never as close a match despite Boulter clawing back an early break in the first set.
Holding serve was becoming an arduous task and Stearns duly struck again to pinch the opener.
A solitary break in the second was enough to send Boulter packing as 21-year-old Stearns ran out a straight-sets winner.
Boulter can be proud of her efforts in New York, however, with a place in the world’s top 50 on the cards for the first time in her career.
Draper has reached the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time after beating American Michael Mmoh earlier in the day as Cameron Norrie and Dan Evans both tumbled out.
Boulter was quick to praise the 21-year-old from Sutton, who faces eighth seed Andrey Rublev for a spot in the quarter-finals on Monday having recovered from a shoulder injury which wiped out his grass-court campaign.
“What he’s done is so impressive, it really is. I don’t think anyone quite understands how hard it is to come back from an injury,” said Boulter.
“I know players who have injuries and struggled to come back. He’s out here in the fourth round of a Slam for the first time playing some of the best tennis. He’s just a good guy and it’s so nice to see him doing well. He really does deserve it and puts the work in day in, day out.
“I wish him the best. Keep flying the flag and he has the game for it.”
The US Open on Sky Sports: How and where to watch
Sky welcomes tennis back to its channels, adding to the existing sports portfolio and reaffirming the broadcaster as the home of live sport in the UK & Ireland.
Sky Sports’ new mixed reality studio features multiple custom built LED screens, integrated light ‘sabres’, and an open canopy roof, making the space alive with colour and energy to reflect the vibrancy of the last Grand Slam of the year.
With integrated AR capabilities, a versatile LED floor, and a ‘fourth wall’, the viewer will be transported to the Arthur Ashe Stadium in a 360-degree immersive environment. Our tennis experts will take the viewer into the eyes of the players for expert Hawkeye analysis and insight as the tournament progresses.
The technology involved allows us to add an entire new dimension and will bring customers closer to the action.
Highlights of matches will be available across Sky Sports TV and our social media platforms.
Video highlights will also be available of the Sky Sports website and app, where there will also be a daily live text commentary on the Sky Sports website and app, as well as live scores, reports, analysis and features.
Stream the US Open on Sky Sports with NOW for just £26 a month for 12 months. Cancel anytime.