Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez have set up an all-teenager US Open women’s final after continuing their stunning runs at Flushing Meadows.
The 18-year-old Raducanu from Britain beat No.7 seed Maria Sakkari 6-1 6-4 in their semi-final on Thursday (local time), becoming the first player to come through qualifying to reach a grand slam final in the professional era.
She will play Canada’s Fernandez, who turned 19 Monday and edged second seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-4 in her semi to reach Saturday’s title decider.
It is the first time two teenagers have contested the women’s final at the US Open since a 17-year-old Serena Williams beat an 18-year-old Martina Hingis in 1999.
If Raducanu wins, she will be the youngest grand slam champion since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004 at 17.
Tearing up the record books, Raducanu is the first British woman to reach a major final since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977.
Two months after bursting onto the scene at Wimbledon ranked 361st in the world, a month after receiving her A-level results, and 13 days after entering qualifying in New York, the 18-year-old stands on the brink of one of the most remarkable sporting achievements of all time.
“Honestly the time here in New York has gone so fast,” said Raducanu.
“I’ve just been taking care of each day and three weeks later I’m in final. I can’t actually believe it.
“Today I wasn’t thinking about anyone else except for myself. While I have the moment I want to thank my team and the LTA and everyone at home for all their support.
“Since I’ve been here from the first round of the quallies, I’ve had unbelievable support.”
As for her chances in the final?
“Is there any expectation? I’m a qualifier so technically there’s no pressure on me,” she said.
Fernandez will become the second 19-year-old Canadian to play in the women’s final in Flushing Meadows in three years after Bianca Andreescu, who won the title in 2019.
The win over Sabalenka – which came just hours before Raducanu’s own upset – was the 73rd-ranked Fernandez’s fourth consecutive three-set victory over a seeded opponent. First came No.3 Naomi Osaka, the 2018 and 2020 U.S. Open champion. Then came No.16 Angelique Kerber, the 2016 champion. That was followed by No.5 Elina Svitolina.
“That’s years and years and years of hard work and tears and blood,” said Fernandez.
“Everything. On court, off court. Sacrifices.”
Others were more excited. ESPN commentator Chris Fowler described Fernandez’s poise as “unearthly”, while Chris Evert said: “I’ve never seen anything like this on Ashe (Arthur Ashe Stadium), ever.”