The US Open is the last Grand Slam of the year and will take place on September 17th. This year, for the first time ever, there was a final between two teenagers.
Leylah Fernandez (left) and Emma Raducanu (right) are both 37 years old.
|Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York Time: 21:00 BST on September 11th
|Radio commentary on Radio 5 Live Sports Extra/Sport website and app, as well as live written commentary on the website and app.
In an unexpected US Open final between two players who have lit up New York, Emma Raducanu will try to become the first British woman to win a Grand Slam singles championship in 44 years when she takes on fellow youngster Leylah Fernandez.
This US Open – and these two players – have defied expectations at every turn. A final between the world numbers 150 and 73 was never anticipated, and it shouldn’t even be as exciting as it is, but this US Open – and these two players – have defied expectations at every turn.
Raducanu’s tale is the stuff of legends: after being rated too low to qualify for the main draw, the 18-year-old had to battle his way through three rounds of qualifying to become the first qualifier to make it to a major final.
And she accomplished it all without missing a beat.
Fernandez, 19, has eliminated a number of top players, including reigning champion Naomi Osaka, fifth seed Elina Svitolina, world number two Aryna Sabalenka, and three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber.
Their distinct routes and styles – but a same fearless attitude – have set up the first Grand Slam final between teenagers since Serena Williams defeated Martina Hingis in the 1999 US Open.
A first major awaits one of them, but regardless of whose name is engraved on the trophy, they have both shown that tennis has a bright future at a time when fans were wondering who would fill the gap when the sport’s greatest stars retired.
‘The whole nation will be rooting for Raducanu.’
Raducanu’s achievements have been lauded by monarchs, politicians, rock artists, commentators, and fans alike.
If she succeeds in ending the country’s wait for a first female Grand Slam singles winner since Virginia Wade’s victory at Wimbledon in 1977, someone will have to create some new superlatives to describe her since they have already been used to describe her.
What’s remarkable is that she’s just 18, but she’s already defeated far more experienced women like Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and 17th seed Maria Sakkari with a daring style that shows tremendous diversity and the ability to alter strategies on the fly.
After that, there’s that grin.
She has looked so comfortable at times that she has been able to smile in between points, and the mega-watt grin that has lighted up the Arthur Ashe Stadium after converting match points has won over both local and national fans.
She’s already accomplished a lot in only three months, including reaching the last 16 at Wimbledon on her Grand Slam debut, climbing from 338 in the rankings to just outside the top 30 when they’re released again on Monday, and becoming British number one.
“When you see that type of skill, you can’t deny it,” Martina Navratilova, the 18-time Grand Slam singles winner, remarked.
“When she’s just getting started, she’s almost like the completed product.”
Many supporters in the United Kingdom will be pleased that the final would be shown at 21:00 BST, since many had set their alarms for the middle of the night when she played her semi-final.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted, “The entire nation will be supporting you on in the final.”
The journey of Emma Raducanu to the final
Backgrounds, styles, and objectives are all similar.
Of course, Fernandez, who is two months younger than Raducanu and celebrated her 19th birthday this week, has been living her own fantasy at Flushing Meadows.
She, too, has received congratulations, with one piece of advise from Canadian ice hockey star Marie-Philip Poulin among the messages from the prime minister and prominent sports figures: “Make sure you eat some maple syrup before the final!”
The matches for Fernandez have been more difficult than Raducanu’s, with four of her six matches going to three sets and five tie-breaks. The Briton, on the other hand, has yet to lose a set or even face a tie-break.
Fernandez, on the other hand, has faced larger names and has a different demeanor on the court than Raducanu.
The left-handed Canadian enjoys fist-pumping and getting the audience to cheer for her, while Raducanu maintains a calm demeanor.
The two, who were both born in Canada to immigrant parents, grew up playing junior tennis together and faced off in the junior Wimbledon second round in 2018.
Raducanu won 6-2, 6-4 in the encounter. But so much has changed for both players since then that it is impossible to predict what will happen on Saturday.
Novak Djokovic’s quest for a record 21st men’s major and a calendar Grand Slam has been somewhat eclipsed by the attention given to this match-up.
“I think we’re all just very eager to make an impact in the tennis world,” Fernandez said. “We’ve always joked that we’re going to be on the WTA Tour and that we’re going to be on the big stage together,” she says.
“We want to make an impact. In tennis, we want to create an impression.”
Regardless of the outcome of the final, they have already accomplished this.