Emma Raducanu of Great Britain hugs the winner’s trophy after her victory over Leylah Fernandez of Canada in straight sets in the Women’s Final at Arthur Ashe Stadium at the 2021 U.S. Open Tennis Championships on Saturday in Forest Hills, N.Y. Photo by Corey Sipkin/UPI | License Photo
Sept. 11 (UPI) — Unseeded Emma Raducanu of Great Britain completed her historic run at the U.S. Open with a straight-sets win over Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez in Saturday’s women’s final in Flushing, N.Y., capturing her first Grand Slam title.
The 18-year-old Raducanu, who was the first player in the professional era — dating to 1968 — to advance through the qualifying rounds to reach a Grand Slam final, defeated the 19-year-old Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 inside Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Competing in just her second Grand Slam tournament, Raducanu won all 20 sets she played in New York. She was the first woman since Serena Williams in 2014 not to lose a set in the U.S. Open.
Raducanu, ranked 150th in the world, also is the youngest Grand Slam champion since 17-year-old Maria Sharapova won at Wimbledon in 2004.
Saturday’s championship match was the first major final between two teenage players since Williams, 17, defeated 18-year-old Martina Hingis at the 1999 U.S. Open.
Despite their youth and inexperience in a Grand Slam final, Raducanu and Fernandez both displayed poise and shot-making reminiscent of established veterans.
Raducanu, however, proved to be the more resilient of the two early in the match. The pair of stars traded points in a back-and-forth first set that lasted about an hour before Raducanu broke at 4-4 and then closed things out the following game.
Fernandez climbed back with a break of her own early in the second set, but Raducanu broke back twice and carried her own service to take control of the match at 5-2.
While Raducanu was serving for the match at 5-3, she slid across the court as she chased a ball to her backhand side, bloodying her left knee. The incident led to a brief medical timeout.
When play resumed, Raducanu — with a white bandage over the cut — saved a pair of break points, and then converted on her third chance to close it with a 108-mph ace.
“It was an incredibly difficult match,” Raducanu said. “I hope that we play each other in many more tournaments and, hopefully, finals.”
Raducanu is the first British woman to earn a Grand Slam trophy since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977.
Wade, a three-time major winner in singles competition, attended the match and cheered on Raducanu.
Unseeded 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez returns a ball to Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus before defeating Sabalenka in three sets and advancing to her first ever Grand Slam final at Arthur Ashe Stadium in Flushing, N.Y., on September 9. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo