Teen Emma Raducanu
On Saturday, British youngster Emma Raducanu ended the longest underdog title run in tennis history by defeating Canada's Leylah Fernandez in the US Open women's final, becoming the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title.After defeating 19-year-old left-hander Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 to earn the $2.5 million (2.1 million euro) top prize, the 18-year-old became the first British woman to win a Slam title in 44 years."I knew I would have to dig deep,"
Raducanu said. "It was an incredibly difficult match but I thought the level was really high. I had to play some of my best tennis."It was a remarkable performance for the unheralded 150th-ranked adolescent, who went two weeks without dropping a set in three qualification matches and seven main-draw matches.Raducanu is the youngest Slam champion since Maria Sharapova, who won Wimbledon at the age of 17 in 2004.
Raducanu is the first British woman to win a Slam singles title since Virginia Wade in 1977 at Wimbledon, and she is the first British woman to win the US Open since Wade in 1968.Queen Elizabeth II was one of the first to congratulate Raducanu on his great achievement."It is a remarkable achievement at such a young age, and is testament to your hard work and dedication," the British monarch said in a statement.In the first-ever women's Slam final between unseeded players,
Wade and British men's tennis icon Tim Henman were among a sellout crowd of 23,700 who generated an exciting atmosphere at Arthur Ashe Stadium."It means so much to have Virginia and Tim here, and to be able to follow in the footsteps of such British heroes and icons, and it gave me the confidence that I could actually do it."Raducanu has had the fewest Slam appearances of any women's Slam winner, having only made it to the fourth round at Wimbledon in July.
"I'm very proud of myself the way I played the last two weeks," Fernandez said."I hope to be back here in the finals and having the right trophy," added a tearful Fernandez, who paid tribute to New York as the city marked the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks."I know it's especially hard on this day for New York," she said. "I just want to say I hope I can be as strong and resilient as New York has been the past 20 years.
"Raducanu broke in the 10th game to capture the first set, smashing a forehand winner after 58 minutes, after an early exchange of hard-fought breaks.In the second set, Fernandez took a 2-1 lead, but Raducanu fought back with a backhand cross-court service return winner to even the score at 2-2, then whipped a forehand passing winner by the Canadian to break for 4-2.In the eighth game,
Fernandez saved two match points to keep the score at 5-3, then gained a break chance at 30-40 in the ninth.Raducanu, on the other hand, skidded on her left knee on the point, causing a bleeding cut. While a trainer dressed the cut and Fernandez spoke with the referee, the game was delayed."I didn't know how serious her fall was, so that's why I went to see the official,"
Fernandez said. "It was just too bad it happened in that specific moment with me, with the momentum. But it's a sport, it's tennis. Just got to move on."When play resumed, Fernandez sent a forehand long to squander the break chance and Raducanu won after an hour and 51 minutes on her third ace, leaving Fernandez in tears."I was going to serve the whole match. I can't believe I finally hit it," Raducanu said. "I was just praying not to double fault."
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