Emma Raducanu completed the greatest underdog triumph in tennis history on Saturday by becoming the first qualifier to capture a Grand Slam.
The 18-year-old defeated Canada’s Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 in the US Open women’s singles final and take the $2.5 million (2.1 million euro) top prize.
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“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's a teenage dream 🎶@leylahfernandez | @EmmaRaducanu pic.twitter.com/QG5QfeKdUK
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 11, 2021
It was a stunning achievement for Raducanu, who did not drop a single set during the three qualifying matches and seven main draw contests.
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The last woman to win the title without dropping a set in New York? Serena Williams in 2014.
In the end, Fernandez looked weary. In fact, she had played four consecutive matches that went three sets.
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The cumulative weight of taking down three Top 5 players – No.2 Aryna Sabalenka, No.3 Naomi Osaka and No.5 Elina Svitolina had to have been a factor.
Her serve was not sharp; Raducanu forced 18 break points and converted four of them.
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Raducanu was serving for the match at 5-3 when she fell and bloodied her knee and a medical timeout was called to bandage the wound.
Ultimately, five minutes elapsed and Raducanu came back to convert her third match point.
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“I also want to say that I hope to be back here in the finals,” Fernandez said during the trophy ceremony, “and this time with the trophy – the right one.”
Spectacular @leylahfernandez compassionate beyond your years https://t.co/obq5D7h85v
— Paul Annacone (@paul_annacone) September 12, 2021
Records made by Raducanu:
- The first qualifier in the history of the Open Era to win a major title.
- The first woman to win a major title in her second Grand Slam event. By comparison, Chris Evert and Venus Williams both got to the final in their third major – but lost.
- The youngest Grand Slam singles champion since 17-year-old Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004.
- The second lowest-ranked woman to win the US Open. Kim Clijsters was unranked when she claimed the New York major in 2009.
- The first British woman in 44 years to win a Slam crown, since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon 1977. She is also the first British woman to win the US Open.
- She is yet to win a WTA tour match