US Open: UK’s Raducanu to play fellow teenager Fernandez in final

Emma Raducanu, 18, and Leylah Fernandez, 19, will clash at the US Open final to win their first Grand Slam title.

Emma Raducanu hits a backhand against Maria Sakkari of Greece at the 2021 US Open tennis tournament [File: Danielle Parhizkaran/Reuters]

Teen tennis prodigies Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez are set to compete against each other after having completed astonishing runs to their first Grand Slam final at the US Open.

Britain’s Raducanu and Canada’s Fernandez will meet on Saturday at Arthur Ashe Stadium, where one of them will claim her first Grand Slam title.

Eighteen-year-old Raducanu has become the first qualifier to ever reach a Grand Slam final and the youngest Grand Slam finalist in 17 years.

“I’m in the final and I can’t actually believe it,” she said, according to the AFP news agency.

Raducanu, who is aiming to become the first British woman to win a Grand Slam title since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977, had retired mid-match in her fourth-round Wimbledon in July, citing unspecified health issues.

Former tennis ace John McEnroe and several others had sparked a backlash when they suggested Raducanu had pulled out because she could not handle the pressure of the occasion.

“Today I wasn’t thinking about anyone else except for myself,” Raducanu said after winning a match against Greek athlete Maria Sakkari on Thursday and qualifying for the final.

Emma Raducanu of Great Britain celebrates after match point against Maria Sakkari of Greece at the 2021 US Open tennis tournament [File: Danielle Parhizkaran/Reuters]

British legend Tim Henman has been among Raducanu’s staunch supporters.

“Tim is such a big inspiration,” Raducanu said. “He has been helping me, telling me, ‘take one point at a time. You have to stay in the moment and can’t get ahead of yourself.'”

The British athlete, born to a Romanian father and a Chinese mother, has now won nine straight matches without dropping a set.

Fernandez, 19, qualified for the final after beating Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus on Thursday with a score not seen in a Grand Slam since Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2012.

Leylah Fernandez of Canada celebrates after match point against Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus at the 2021 US Open tennis tournament [File: Robert Deutsch/Reuters]

“Now I can say I’ve done a pretty good job of achieving my dreams,” Fernandez said.

“I just want to play a final. I’m going to enjoy my victory and worry about it tomorrow,” she added.

Saturday’s match will be the first all-teen final since 17-year-old Williams beat 18-year-old Martina Hingis at the 1999 US Open.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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