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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday September 11 2021

 
Emma Raducanu

Emma Raducanu topped Leylah Fernandez in straight sets to become the first qualifier to ever win a Grand Slam title.

Photo Source: Getty

British qualifier Emma Raducanu claimed the first all-teen Grand Slam final in 22 years, battling past 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez, 6-4 6-3, to become the first qualifier to ever win a Grand Slam title.

Tennis Express

It was a remarkable conclusion to one of the wildest Grand Slam women’s singles tournaments in history. Raducanu, ranked 150, and Fernandez, ranked 73, played the first major final between unseeded players, and in the end it was the younger of the two teenagers who completed the first successful set sweet at the US Open in New York since Serena Williams in 2014.

“It was an incredibly difficult match but I thought that the level was extremely high,” Raducanu said. “I hope that we play each other in many more tournaments, and hopefully finals.”

Raducanu won all 20 sets she played through the qualifying draw to become the first British woman to win a major singles title since Virginia Wade held the Venus Rosewater Dish aloft at Wimbledon, on the tournament’s 100th anniversary in 1977.


The ninth Grand Slam final between teenagers was an entertaining tussle, featuring cat-like quickness and opportunistic ball striking from both players. But it was Raducanu who seemed to stay a step ahead of Fernandez throughout the contest. She took the first break in the second game of the opening set, securing a break on her fifth break opportunity of the game.

Feisty Fernandez hit back immediately, breaking on her fourth opportunity to get back on serve at 1-2, and the pair stayed on serve until the Brit was able to break critically in the tenth game, converting her fourth set point with a screaming down-the-line forehand winner to grab the opening set in 58 minutes.

If there was a glaring advantage in the match it was Raducanu’s ability to put constant pressure on Fernandez’s serve. Fernandez won 70 percent of her first serve points for the tournament, but managed to win only 56 percent of them against Raducanu. She faced 18 break points, and saved many valiantly (all but four), but was only able to hold serve in five of her nine service games.

Raducanu finished the tournament with impressive returning statistics: she won return games at a rate of 52 percent (29 breaks in 56 games).

Fernandez drew first blood in the second set with a break for 2-1, but Raducanu broke back immediately and reeled off four games on the trot to lead 5-2.

Sensing a chance to create a dramatic turnaround, Fernandez dialed up her level and saved a pair of championship points to stay alive at 3-5.

With Raducanu serving for the title she earned a break point at 30-40, when she opened the court with three blistering backhands and elicited an error from Raducanu.

At that point Raducanu, who had scraped her knee while scrambling, had blood running down her left leg. She needed a timeout to stop the bleeding and clean up the wound, and Fernandez, not wanting to stop play, protested vehemently to no avail.

It was unfortunate timing, but the timeout was necessary.

Raducanu saved a break point immediately after play resumed, but Fernandez earned another.

But the Brit was too steady. She won the final three points, sealing the victory as she converted her third championship point with an ace to close the contest in one hour and 51 minutes

She dropped to the court and lay on her back, her hands covering her face as the Arthur Ashe crowd cacophony washed over her - a storybook conclusion to one of the most improbable and entertaining women's singles events in Grand Slam history.

 

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