18-year-old qualifier Emma Raducanu has completed her dream US Open debut, with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez to claim her first Grand Slam title.
Playing in the biggest match of their lives in Arthur Ashe Stadium, neither Raducanu nor Fernandez had been past the fourth round of a major until this week.
In order to get into her second slam main draw, and her first at the US Open, world No. 150, Raducanu had to navigate her way through three rounds of qualifying to begin with. She then weaved her way through the main draw without dropping a set in any of her 10 matches, fighting past the likes of 2020 Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Belinda Bencic and 17th seed Maria Sakkari.
And then of course 19 year old Leylah Fernandez- who took down No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka, No. 3 seed Naomi Osaka, and No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina on her way to the final. Raducanu brought her big-hitting game from the get go, immediately putting Fernandez under immense pressure as she broke for a 2-0 lead in the first set.
The Canadian was able to break straight back, but was always on the back foot against the Brit, who kept taking her game to another level, and ultimately could not be matched - drawing unforced errors in return. Raducanu converted of her fourth set point, with a stunning forehand winner, to move within a set of claiming the title.
But the Canadian wasn’t going down easy. She earned an early break in the second set, but was eventually broken back, and went down fighting as Raducanu peeled off the next four games on the trot to take a 5-2 lead.
Closing in on a remarkable historic victory, the Brit survived another hurdle as she scraped her knee on the court, and took a medical timeout before serving for the match.
But a scraped knee wasn’t going to be the hurdle she would fall at. On her third match point, Raducanu sent a blazing ace past Fernandez to seal victory.
The 18 year old became the first qualifier to ever reach a slam final, and became the slam champion with the least major main draw appearances.
When Bianca Andreescu won the US Open title in 2019, in her fourth major appearances she tied the record set by Monica Seles at the French Open in 1990.
But that record has been blitzed by Raducanu, who has done so in just two major appearances, after reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon earlier this summer in her debut.
“I think this final shows that the future of women’s tennis and just the depth of the game right now is so great,” Raducanu said during the on-court ceremony.
“I think every single player in the women’s draw definitely has a shot to win any tournament. I hope that the next generation can follow in the steps of the greatest legends, like Billie Jean King, and everyone who is at the top of the game right now,” Raducanu said.
Raducanu has also become the youngest Grand Slam champion since 17-year-old Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004.
Coming into the tournament, the Brit had a total prize money in her career of $303,376. She will pocket $2.5 million USD after her victory in New York.
Listen to The First Serve with Brett Phillips and Sam Groth wrap up the US Open on Monday 13th September at 7pm AEST on 1116AM SEN Melbourne, 1629AM SEN SA / replayed at 8pm AEST on 1170am Sydney or listen live and catch up on the SEN App.
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