Emma Raducanu's 'absurd' history as teenagers make US Open final

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Leylah Fernandez and Emma Raducanu, pictured here at the US Open.
Leylah Fernandez and Emma Raducanu are into the US Open final. Image: Getty

Emma Raducanu has become the first qualifier in tennis history to reach the final of a grand slam, setting up the most unlikely of championship matches with fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez at the US Open.

Raducanu, 18, and Fernandez, 19, both continued their fairytale runs at Flushing Meadows on Thursday to set up the first all-teenager final at the US Open since Serena Williams (17) and Martina Hingis (18) in 1999.

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Raducanu stunned Greek 17th seed Sakkari 6-1, 6-4 to become the first qualifier into a grand slam final since rankings were introduced in 1973.

The British 18-year-old won the first five games in a row and got plenty of help from Sakkari, who had 17 unforced errors to seven winners.

Appearing in just her second major tournament after debuting at Wimbledon earlier this year, Raducanu has won all 18 sets she has played in New York during three matches in qualifying rounds and six in the main draw.

She is the now the youngest grand slam finalist since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004 at age 17.

And Fernandez isn't much older, turning 19 just a few days ago.

"Absolutely stunning," American legend John McEnroe said in commentary for ESPN.

Tearing up the record books, Raducanu is also 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."

Earlier, unseeded Canadian Fernandez edged World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-4 to book her spot in the final.

She recovered from dropping the initial three games to take a lead, before Sabalenka pushed a match filled with momentum swings to a back-and-forth third set. 

No matter what, Fernandez did not worry. Didn't waver.

Leylah Fernandez, pictured here after defeating Aryna Sabalenka at the US Open.
Leylah Fernandez celebrates after defeating Aryna Sabalenka at the US Open. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Tennis world in disbelief over teen's US Open takeover

It was the World No.73rd's fourth-consecutive three-set victory over a seeded opponent. 

First came No.3 Naomi Osaka, the 2018 and 2020 US Open champion. Then came No.16 Angelique Kerber, the 2016 champion, followed by No.5 Elina Svitolina and then Sabalenka.

Not since Serena Williams in 2012 at Wimbledon had a player beaten three rivals ranked in the top five at a grand slam.

"That's years and years and years of hard work and tears and blood," said Fernandez, who could give Canada its second US Open women's title in quick succession after Bianca Andreescu's triumph in 2019. 

"Everything. On court, off court. Sacrifices."

The tennis world was left in disbelief over the unreal scenes.

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.”

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