She’s the sensation of the US Open. Britain’s Emma Raducanu, 18, became the first player in history from qualifying to reach the final of a Grand Slam tournament on Thursday, September 9, in New York. The 150e world player will face Canadian Leylah Fernandez on Saturday (78e), 19 years old, another discovery of the tournament. Almost unknown before the US Open, the two players reached their first Grand Slam final on Thursday, bringing a hurricane of freshness to tennis.
Raducanu, who crushed Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-4 in the second half of the night session, became the first player in history from qualifying to reach this stage of a major tournament since the Russian Maria Sharapova who was 17 in 2004 at Wimbledon. “I’m in the final and I can’t believe it”, reacted, radiant, the Londoner, after his new demonstration still full of control.
The day before, as in each of the previous four rounds, Wednesday, she had dismissed in two dry sets (6-3, 6-4) the Swiss Belinda Bencic, gold medalist in Tokyo, yet given favorite given her ranking ( 12e). Emma Raducanu had confided: ” I do not realize. I didn’t think I was here. I knew I was doing a good job, that would pay off someday, but you never know when it’s going to happen ”.
Before the Masters, Raducanu had been talked about at Wimbledon this summer. Invited to play the first Grand Slam of her career, the one who then pointed to the 338e world place had reached 8es final. But, dizzy and plagued by breathing difficulties, she was forced to give up against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic (6-4, 3-0). The next day, she will explain on her Instagram account to have “Probably mismanaged (his) stress while playing in front of such a large crowd”.
If Raducanu grew up and lives in London, she was born in Canada to a Romanian father and a Chinese mother. “My Chinese mother instilled in me from an early age work and discipline”, explained the young woman, who also says to be “Inspired much younger by [l’ancienne joueuse professionnelle] Li Na, just by the way she was a fierce competitor ”. “I remember watching her beat the Italian Francesca Schiavone in the Roland Garros final in 2011. It was really a long and difficult match. But the mental strength and resilience that she had shown in this match remains in my head today ”, she explained.
Leylah Fernandez, the other sensation
Raducanu will face Canadian Leylah Fernandez (78th) on Saturday, who has just turned 19 and also caused a sensation during this fortnight, by eliminating three players from the top 5 world, in particular the defending champion, Naomi Osaka, in the third round, then that the Japanese woman was at one point two points away from victory. To reach the final, Fernandez battled World No.2 Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka, 7-6 (7/3), 4-6, 6-4.
Their meeting will be the first final between “Teenagers” in a Major since that of the US Open won in 1999 by Serena Williams, then aged 17, at the expense of the Swiss Martina Hingis, 18 at the time.
Emma Raducanu could succeed Virginia Wade, the last Briton to have won in singles in one of the four Grand Slam tournaments, in 1977, at Wimbledon.