Raducanu defeats Fernandez in battle of the teens to emerge as US Open champion
18-year-old makes history as first qualifier to ever win a major title
Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu defeated Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-3 in straight sets in the final of the 2021 women’s US Open to claim the crown in the final Grand Slam of the year. Raducanu became the first qualifier ever to win a major tournament in the Open Era.
The build-up to the match was dominated by various views about how brilliant it was for a pair of teenagers to reach the final of the US Open after both women did so through different pathways. While 18-year-old Raducanu was playing in only her second major tournament ever, 19-year-old Fernandez was playing in her seventh major at this year’s US Open. Their relative inexperience did not stop them from putting up a fine show for the New York crowd at the Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Raducanu quickly laid down a marker of her intent early in the match as she banished any nerves that may have troubled her with an authoritative start to the match. The 18-year-old qualifier quickly took the first two games using a combination of her powerful forehand and ability to return the serve of her opponent, and she went 2-0 up. Fernandez was not to be easily outdone, and she claimed three of the next four games to tie up the first set at 3-3.
Raducanu proved to be a tough nut to crack for Fernandez as she continued to press forward despite the strong comeback from her opponent, and she was able to take the first set of the US Open final 6-4, using a break point at the fourth time of asking on Fernandez’s serve.
Raducanu continued in the second set as she claimed the first game against Fernandez 40-15 thanks to some powerful forehand strikes again. Fernandez continued to put up an intense fight, and she claimed the following two sets to put her 2-1 up for the first time in the match. Raducanu raised her game and took the next four games to go 5-2 up before failing to convert on two championship points, and Fernandez took the game to make the set 5-3. Raducanu had to dig deep at this point as Fernandez looked to take advantage of the momentum she was building. The 18-year-old kept her head brilliantly and hit a fine ace to pick up Championship point and end the second set 6-3.
Raducanu claimed victory against Fernandez in the US Open final in just under two hours, and by so doing, became the first woman to win the US Open without dropping a set since Serena Williams in 2014. Her achievement is huge as she had to go through three qualifying rounds to reach the main draw of the competition before playing six matches in the competition proper. In all, she played and won 20 sets in what was only her fourth tour-level tournament.
Raducanu has become the first British woman to win a grand slam since Virginia Wade in 1977, and the first British woman to win the US Open since 1968. She is also the youngest winner of the US Open since Maria Sharapova in 2004
Raducanu was ranked 336th before her first Grand Slam at Wimbledon, where she retired at the Round of 16 stage due to breathing problems that she faced. She was ranked 150th in the world and will now rise to 23rd in the world and 1st in Britain when the new WTA rankings are released on Monday. Her opponent Fernandez was brilliant, as always, and pushed her to reach new levels in the final. Both women stated that they wish to face one another many more times in the future.