Before this year’s Wimbledon, many tennis lovers never heard of Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu. Also, most ardent followers of the sport did not know much about Canada’s Leylah Fernandez. But all that would change today as the 18 and 19 year olds respectively would compete for the last of this year’s grand slam titles under the bright New York lights.
In a massive run that has left the tennis world in shock and pundits confused, the two teenage sensations took no prisoners as they slayed giants on their way to today’s final showdown. This year’s final marks the first time since 1999 that two teenagers will face off for the title in New York.
Prior to the U.S. Open, Fernandez had never made it out of the third round at a major. On the other hand, Raducanu’s deepest run at a major was a fourth-round appearance at Wimbledon earlier this season.
Raducanu had to get through the qualifying tournament just to get into the main draw, and is the first qualifier to reach a Grand Slam final in the Open era.
Fernandez reached the final by slaying some of the giants of the women’s game, including Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka. She comes into the title match with four emphatic, consecutive wins over seeded foes.
Fernandez and Raducanu delivered a handful of spectacular performances to reach the final, and the expectation is the same level of play will appear today.
Fernandez survived three-set battles in the last four rounds to advance to the title match and is by far the more battle-tested player of both finalists. The 19-year-old Canadian displayed her resolve once again on Thursday night, denying Sabalenka any momentum in the third set after the No. 2 seed leveled the contest at a set apiece.
Fernandez with a Filipino mother and Ecuadorian father but representing Canada couldn’t hold back tears, saying she is stunned but would give her all in today’s final. Raducanu has not dropped a set through six matches and has looked dominant against her pair of seeded opponents in the last two rounds. The 18-year-old cruised past Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic in straight sets in the quarterfinals and blitzed hard-hitting No. 17 seed, Maria Sakkari off the court in their semifinal matchup yesterday morning. The 6-1 first-set win over Sakkari was her most impressive frame of the tournament since she held off seven break points. There will be a small margin for error for both players with the title on the line and there is almost little to separate the duo.
One thing is sure though; there would be a new grand slam winner today and the trend of a different winner for each slam in a season continues, for the women’s side at least as world no 1, Novak Djokovic looks to continue his undisputed dominance on the men’s side.