Emma Raducanu beats Leylah Fernandez to win U.S. Open crown
9/11/2021 8:58:01 PM EST
Emma Raducanu became the first qualifier to win the U.S. Open when she rolled to a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Canada's Leylah Fernandez in Saturday's championship match at New York.
Raducanu, an 18-year-old from Great Britain, recorded 22 winners against 25 unforced errors while winning the final in one hour, 51 minutes and taking home a championship check of $2.5 million.
Raducanu concluded a run of 10 victories -- including three qualifying wins -- with a scintillating ace to Fernandez's left. She entered the event ranked 150th in the world but excelled in her U.S. Open debut.
Saturday's final was the first all-teen U.S. Open championship match since 1999, when Serena Williams (then 17 years old) defeated Martina Hingis (18).
"I think it shows the future of women's tennis and just the depth of the game right now is so great," Raducanu said during the trophy celebration. "I think every single player has a shot of winning any tournament. I hope that the next generation can follow in the steps of some of the greatest legends, for example Billie Jean (King) right here, and everyone who's at the top of the game right now."
Raducanu is the first Englishwoman to win a Grand Slam title since Virginia Wade claimed the Wimbledon crown in 1977. Wade was in attendance in New York.
Raducanu also is the youngest Grand Slam winner since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004 at age 17.
Also, she is the first woman to win the U.S. Open without dropping a set since Serena Williams in 2014.
Fernandez, who turned 19 on Monday, had 18 winners and 26 unforced errors. She is ranked 73rd in the world.
Fernandez's run to the title match included upsets of three top-five seeded players -- No. 3 Naomi Osaka, No. 5 Elina Svitolina and No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka. The win over Sabalenka was in the semifinals.
"It's incredible," Fernandez said of her experience. "Emma played amazing. I'm very proud of myself for how I played the last two weeks."
Raducanu had a 5-2 lead in the second set but Fernandez saved two match points to remain alive.
In the ensuing game, Fernandez hit a winner that a skidding Raducanu was unable to reach to set up a break point.
Raducanu cut her knee and a medical timeout was used to attend to her and stop the bleeding and dress the wound. When play resumed more than five minutes later, Raducanu staved off the break point.
A short time later, she finished off the victory with her third ace of the match.
"Leylah's always going to play great tennis and always going to fight, that's just the competitor she is and that's why she's here in the final," Raducanu said of the late-match sequence. "I knew that I'd have to dig deep. I fell, somehow, and I thought that would throw myself off balance because I was going to serve.
"I was just praying not for a double fault but we got through it and I think just staying in the moment, focusing on what I had to do and my process and the mindset just really helped."
Canada's Bianca Andreescu in 2019 is the other woman to win the U.S. Open in her debut.
--Field Level Media
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