Emma Raducanu reacts after reaching US Open final
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History will be made at the US Open this weekend, as two unseeded teenagers battle it out for the honour of winning the first Grand Slam title of their fledgling careers. Britain’s Emma Raducanu will face Leylah Fernandez of Canada in front of an adoring crowd at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, after both conquered all before them to upset the favourites in the final major tournament of the year.
Raducanu has also made history by becoming the first qualifier, male or female, to reach the final of a Grand Slam since the Open Era began in 1968.
Her road to the final has been long, playing three more games than her opponent after having to play for the right to even take part in the tournament in New York.
Not that she looks like she’s running out of steam – she hasn’t lost a single set throughout the entire competition, beating 17th seed Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-4 in the semi-final after breezing past Olympic champion Belinda Bencic in the last eight.
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The woman hoping to reverse that trend is fellow teen Fernandez, who has claimed the scalps of four seeded players on her way to the final.
After straight sets victories over Ana Konjuh and Kaia Kanepi, she has overcome Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka to make it to the championship match.
In her post-match press conference after beating Sakkari in her semi-final, Raducanu recalled the first meeting between the two youngsters while they were still junior players.
“I think it was maybe Orange Bowl, under 12s,” she said.
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“It was definitely under 12s. We first encountered each other because I was born in Toronto and she was Canadian, so we kind of, like, made a little relationship back then.
“But, yeah, then I played her at junior Wimbledon. Obviously since then we’ve both come very far in our games and as people. Yeah, I’m sure it’s going to be extremely different to when we last encountered each other.
“But we’re both playing good tennis so it will be a good match.”
While Raducanu has won 18 successive sets in New York and has looked unbeatable throughout.
Every time she has had a setback – had her serve broken or failed to capitalise on a break or game point – the 18-year-old has bounced back immediately to set the record straight.
While the qualifiers mean Raducanu has played three more games than her opponent in this tournament, she may well be in better shape as Fernandez’s road to the final, while no less impressive, has been a little more fraught.
Each one of the Canadian’s seeded opponents at Flushing Meadows have taken their matches to three sets, and all of them have involved a tie-break.
Fernandez’s matches over the past two weeks have been longer and harder than what Raducanu has needed to do, potentially giving the Briton the edge heading into Saturday’s final.
Whatever happens at the Arthur Ashe Stadium, Raducanu is already guaranteed to be the British number one and has already made a huge splash so early in her tennis career.
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