US Open: Emma Raducanu beats Leylah Fernandez to win her first major title

Emma Raducanu completed a Fairytale Grand Slam run on Saturday by beating Canadian Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 at the Arthur Ashe stadium to lift the 2021 US Open women’s singles title.

Britain's 18-year-old Emma Raducanu beat Leylah Fernandez to win the 2021 US open women's singles title; Credit: Twitter/@ManUtd
By Sreejith C R | Sep 12, 2021 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Britain’s Emma Raducanu completed a sensational Grand Slam run on Saturday by beating Canadian Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 at the Arthur Ashe stadium to lift the 2021 US Open women’s singles title. The 18-year-old Raducanu became the first-ever qualifier to win a Grand Slam title and the first British woman to hoist a major trophy since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977. The 150th ranked Briton won all 20 sets she played in New York- six in qualifying, 14 in the main draw and became the first woman to win the singles championship without dropping a set since Serena Williams in 2014.

This match could be written in the history books as it was the first major final of the millennium between two teens since Williams, 17, beat Martina Hingis, 18, at the 1999 US Open. It is also the first between two unseeded women.

Throughout the first set, the teens wrestled the baseline from each other, defended with elite movement, and imbued every game with intensity. Raducane set the tone by snapping a cross-court backhand winner in the opening game.

After holding serve, Raducanu immediately imposed herself on return, breaking on her sixth breakpoint. But 19-year-old Fernandez responded with her own suffocating return game, breaking back on her fourth breakpoint for 2-1. After 22 long minutes of sheer intensity, they had played only three games.

The Briton made her run at 5-4 with a series of returns, snapping a cross-court backhand return winner to bring up a double set point. Fernandez saved both, including with a series of forehands, and then Raducanu missed a third. But Raducanu drilled a winning inside-out forehand to bring up a fourth set point and then dispatched another big forehand to take the set.

Emma Raducanu: teen played like veterans

A cut left knee was attended to after she slid on the court chasing a backhand side, while at 5-3. A trainer came out to put a white bandage on the cut. Fernandez spoke to the chair umpire Marijana Veljovic regarding the lengthy medical time out but with blood running down her opponent’s knee there was little alternative but to properly dress it.

When they resumed, at 30-40 the 73rd ranked Canadian created a breakpoint, however, Raducanu saved a pair of breakpoints, and then converted on her third chance with a service that flew past her flailing hand. The 24,000-seater Arthur Ashe Stadium erupted, she dropped her racket, landed on her back, and covered her face with both hands.

Emma Raducanu became the youngest player to claim a women’s major title since Maria Sharapova was 17 at Wimbledon in 2004.

After briefly leaving the court to join her team in the stands she said: “Leylah was always going to fight, that’s the competitor she is. I knew I would have to dig deep. I fell somehow, I was just praying I wouldn’t throw in a double fault after that. Staying in the moment and focussing on what I had to do really helped me.

“I thought the level was extremely high and I hope we play each other in many more tournaments and finals.” 

Both the teens played like veterans and gave their best during the one hour and 51 minutes of sensational tennis. Fernandez, who was tearful at the end, was gracious during the presentation, saying: “Emma played amazing, I congratulate you and your team.” 

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