NEW YORK (Reuters) Leylah Fernandez and Emma Raducanu will face each other in one of the most unlikely finals of the US Open on Saturday.
Their title fight under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium will be the first major final in the Open Era in both the men’s and women’s games with two unseeded players.
Canadian Fernandez, who turned 19 this week, was in 73rd place when he entered the hard court Grand Slam, while 18-year-old Briton Raducanu was 150th in the women’s standings.
But without any expectation on their shoulders, the duo have showcased a brand of fearless tennis on Flushing Meadows that has endeared them to the fans and helped them chart a path to the flagship match.
They are both young. They play fearlessly. They have nothing to lose to play against us, said Greece’s Maria Sakkari, who faced a straight-set loss to qualifier Raducanu in the semi-finals.
I must give credit to both of them, the young girls, for taking their chance. They are fighting for that title there. Very well done to both for coming here.
Saturday’s final is the first tour-level meeting between them, but the pair previously clashed in the second round of the 2018 Wimbledon juniors when Raducanu won 6-2 6-4.
It will also be the first Grand Slam final to be contested by two teenagers since Serena Williams and Martina Hingis met in the US Open title fight in 1999.
With Raducanu and with Leylah Fernandez they know how to win. They know how to stay calm in key moments, said Eurosport tennis expert and seven-time Grand Slam champion Mats Wilander.
They have a natural gift for not panicking, which is amazing. I can’t even explain it.
Raducanu is the first British woman to reach a major final since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977. Raducanu can jump to 24th in the rankings with her first title, while southpaw Fernandez can make her top 20 debut by winning the US Open. to win.
However, the Brit has had a less arduous path to the final. She has not dropped a set in her nine matches at Flushing Meadows to become the first qualifier in men’s and women’s tennis to reach a major final.
By contrast, Fernandez has had to use all her fighting spirit to overcome the heavyweights of women’s tennis and give Canada its second US Open women’s title in three years after Bianca Andreescus’ 2019 triumph.
The Canadian had to beat three top five players and a multiple major winner in her last four games, all in three sets to secure her spot in the final.
Raducanu and Fernandez are very similar in a way. If Fernandez were right handed you wouldn’t see much difference in their styles. They’re pretty close in how they play, Wilander added.
(Reporting by Sudipto Ganguly in Mumbai; editing by Ken Ferris)
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