New York City will see a battle of teenagers in the women’s final of US Open from sneakers on Saturday, as Briton Emma Raducanu became the first tennis player out of the qualifying pre-tournament to reach a major title dispute, and will face Canadian Leylah Fernández, after both left giants along the way.
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The final at the colossal Arthur Ashe Stadium will be the first decision of a major tournament of the Open Era, whether in the women’s or men’s bracket, with players who are not seeded.
It will also mark the first Grand Slam final to be played by two such young players since Serena Williams and Martina Hingis clashed at the 1999 US Open.
Raducanu, 18, and Fernández, who turned 19 this week, were not even born when this happened.
“We first met because I was born in Toronto and she was Canadian, so we kind of created a little relationship at the time,” said Raducanu, whose parents moved to England when she was two.
Fernández was the first to secure a place in the final on Thursday, beating second seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-6(3), 4-6 and 6-4 in the first semi-final.
“As my father told me all the time, there is no limit to the potential of what I can do,” she said. “Every day we have to work hard, we have to keep fighting for it.”
Raducanu, meanwhile, needed little time to secure her place in the decision, 84 minutes to beat Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-1 6-4 to become the first Brit to reach a Grand Slam final since Virginia Wade in 1977 at Wimbledon. She reaches the final without losing a single set in the North American tournament, the first tennis player to do so since Germany’s Angelique Kerber in 2016.