Teenage sensation Emma Raducanu claims remarkable US Open crown

Jonathan Davies in US Open 12 Sep 2021
Emma Raducanu clutches the US Open trophy (Paul Zimmer via www.imago-images.de/Imago/PA Images)

Emma Raducanu became the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam in the Open Era after defeating Leylah Fernandez in straight sets to claim the 2021 US Open crown.

The 18-year-old completed the most remarkable of victories by seeing off fellow teenage sensation Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 at Flushing Meadows.

The first British female Slam champion since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977, Raducanu also became the youngest major winner since Maria Sharapova’s All England Club triumph in 2004.

Having only completed her A-levels a couple of months ago, the world number 150 will climb a whopping 127 places to 23rd in Monday’s updated WTA rankings.

Raducanu’s sensational triumph was also achieved without dropping a single set; making her the first player to do this at the US Open since Serena Williams seven years ago.

This was the first time in 22 years that two teenagers had contested the Ladies’ singles final at Flushing Meadows.

Raducanu had come through three qualifying rounds, before defeating Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic and 17th seed Maria Sakkari in the quarter and semi-finals respectively.

Meanwhile, world number 73 Fernandez was looking to become only the second Slam champion from Canada after Bianca Andreescu’s triumph here two years ago.

The 19-year-old enjoyed a brilliant run to the final; defeating former champions Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber, as well as fifth and second seeds Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka.

A tight opening set saw Fernandez immediately cancel out Raducanu’s break in the second game, before going with serve until the 10th.

It was here that the new British number one fashioned four set points on her opponent’s serve; drawing first blood at the fourth attempt with a blistering forehand.

Seeking to become the first woman to win a Slam in only her second main-draw appearance, Raducanu responded brilliantly to being broken in the third game of the second set.

Another thumping forehand winner then saw her crucially break in game six, before powering through her own service game to stand on the brink of victory at 5-2.

Fernandez dug deep; fending off two Championship points before Raducanu served for the chance to become only the fourth British female Slam winner after Wade, Ann Jones and Sue Barker.

The 18-year-old was forced to take a medical timeout at 30-40 behind after sustaining a nasty cut to her knee while attempting to return a powerful Fernandez forehand, much to the dismay of her opponent.

Nevertheless, she quickly regained her composure to rescue that break point, before a stunning ace secured the perfect ending to what has been a fairy-tale run in New York.

Raducanu becomes the third British player to triumph in the Big Apple during the Open Era; after Wade in 1968 and Andy Murray 44 years later.

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