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.
“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.”
— 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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
— 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