Leylah Fernandez vs. Emma Raducanu result: Teen phenom becomes first qualifier to win a Grand Slam, US Open title in Open Era
The tennis world was always expecting history to be made at the US Open; they just weren’t expecting it to happen on Saturday, too.
Meet Emma Raducanu: the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title — any major, ever — in the Open Era. She defeated Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3 in the 2021 US Open final in the first meeting of two teen sensations in the championship match since Serena Williams bested Martina Hingis in 1999.
The Toronto-born, Great Britain-raised 18-year-old Raducanu stormed through qualifying and the main draw without dropping a single set — and she continued that in the final against a tough, tenacious and unyieldingly tough competitor in the just-turned 19-year-old Canadian Fernandez. Raducanu’s service game was a little better than Fernandez’s, which may have been the deciding factor as she was only broken twice out of nine opportunities. By comparison, she broke Fernandez four times in 18 chances.
Outside of the serving, the statistics were close. Raducanu had 22 winners to the lefty Fernandez’s 18 and 25 unforced errors to Fernandez’s 26. They both painted the lines, had big-time shots in moments that would have made anyone else nervous and ran down everything — they both covered around 13,000 feet each. It was quite a show on Arthur Ashe Stadium to close out the women’s tournament.
MORE — Fernandez’s father and coach, Jorge, wasn’t at final: ‘I’m extremely superstitious’
Entering the Open was missing some of its biggest names. There was no Serena or Venus or Rafa or Roger. But that’s okay because there is now Leylah and Emma.
Fernandez, a native of Laval, Que., entered the match with wins over defending champion Naomi Osaka, 2016 champ Angelique Kerber, fifth-seed Elina Svitolina and No. 2-ranked Sabalenka. That’s three top-5 seeds — two former No. 1’s — if you weren’t keeping track.
Raducanu is now the first British woman to win a major since Virginia Wade (who was in attendance on Saturday) since 1977 and the youngest to win a major since Maria Sharapova in 2005. As mentioned, she is also the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam final in the Open Era — yep, she had to win three matches to make the main draw — and did not drop a single set from the moment she hit Flushing, Queens. Along the way, she knocked off Shelby Rogers (who toppled No. 1 Ash Barty), Belinda Bencic and Maria Sakkari in the last three rounds leading up to the final.
US OPEN 2021: Teenage phenoms making history | Can Novak Djokovic win the Grand Slam?
It was an unexpected meeting because Fernandez entered the US Open ranked 73rd in the WTA singles rankings while Raducanu came in at 150th. It should be noted that the pair previously met in the 2018 Wimbledon girls’ singles Round of 16 with Raducanu winning that one too (6-2, 6-4).
Sporting News had all the action as the two teens battled it out for their first Grand Slam title at the 2021 US Open final.
MORE: Watch the US Open live with fuboTV (7-day trial)
The tennis these two women are playing is amazing. Fernandez gets a break point as she makes Raducanu run all over the baseline before the Brit can’t make the return shot. On the same play, when Raducanu chased down the ball, she skidded and scraped her left knee on the court. With blood running down Raducanu’s knee, the trainer has to come out to bandage her up and it is a medical timeout. Fernandez not happy with the timeout is seen mildly arguing with an official as Raducanu’s knee is heavily bandaged.
On the first point back, Fernandez ends a rally with a forehand long and the game goes to deuce. The next point, Fernandez with an amazing stretch shot to keep the point going ends up winning the point after Raducanu sends a shot long. But Raducanu gets it back to deuce with her own saving shot.
Championship point No. 3 for Raducanu after Fernandez hits a back way long. And she finishes it off with authority and an ace out wide.
Championship point for Raducanu after Fernandez’s shot hits the tape and stays on her side of the court for once. But the Brit (maybe battling some nerves?) hits the shot wide and the game is leveled at deuce. Then, after a rally, she hits the backhander into the net and it is an advantage for Fernandez — but she couldn’t convert. Another championship point for Raducanu, and she hits the forehand into the net. The Canadian fights back and thanks to a forehand winner down the line and Raducanu hitting the ball into the net, she says: “I’m not done yet.”
The Brit is playing confident tennis. Serving to go up 5-2 she wins the game as Fernandez’s backhand goes long.
Raducanu is feeling it now as she takes a 15-40 lead. The crowd is trying to push Fernandez and she gets one break back. But on the next point, Fernandez goes for the short ball and Raducanu with the beautiful forehand passing shot winner.
The 18-year-old holds and things are back on serve between two women playing high-quality and risk-taking tennis. Both are painting the lines in this one. They may be young and playing in their first-ever Grand Slam final, but they have nerves of steel.
Raducanu gets a break point chance as her short crosscourt backhander clips the line. She converts with a backhand return winner.
Another net cord shot that Raducanu can’t get back over the net and now Fernandez has two break points. But, the Brit gets the first one back as she hits the ball deep and Fernandez can’t handle the shot. Then she levels it at deuce, and gets the ad in too, with two strong serves Fernandez gets a racquet on but cannot return. Fernandez, however, who has the crowd behind her, ends up breaking Raducanu to take the lead in the second set.
Fernandez trails 0-40 but continues to play fearlessly. She hits a forehand near the sideline that Raducanu has trouble returning, a backhand winner close to the line and fires off a serve the 18-year-old can’t return to get it to deuce. She then gets the advantage and the game after Raducanu can’t handle two straight serves.
Raducanu holds easily on five points to start the second set.
A big backhand crosscourt return by Raducanu gives her two break point chances to take the first set. She misses on the first opportunity after sending a groundstroke long. She misses on the second as she sends a running lob over Fernandez but wide. Raducanu gets another set point as Fernandez hits the ball long at deuce, but she gives it right back with a backhand return into the net off a second serve. Now her fourth set point and she comes through with a winner down the line after a couple of crosscourt shots opened the court.
Both players on the run during a rally (fifth point) that ends with Raducanu letting a Fernandez backhander go long — and it sails long by maybe an inch. On the next point, Fernandez sends a forehand long and Raducanu is now just a game away from taking the opening set. Reminder: she hasn’t lost a set since the start of qualifying.
Another game goes to deuce but Fernandez holds thanks to her 11th winner of the set. Raducanu, by comparison, has eight winners.
A big forehand down the line winner for Raducanu — she may have been off the ground when she hit it. She fist pumps and yells after as she takes a 40-30 lead in the game. The pair then trade groundstrokes before Raducanu runs Fernandez across the baseline leading to her unable to get the forehand back.
Sloppy game from Raducanu as she has three unforced errors before Fernandez’s game point hits the tape and falls just over the net. She puts her hands up and smiles as she knows she had some luck there.
Raducanu holds and retakes the lead after Fernandez went up 0-30.
Fernandez holds off Raducanu. She led 40-0 before the Brit grabbed two points; however, the feisty Canadian fired off a big serve down the line that Raducanu could not handle to even the opening set.
Back on serve after another game goes to multiple deuces (three). Raducanu had held 19 service games in a row (dating back to her semifinal match) before she hit a backhand unforced error to give Fernandez the break.
Fernandez looking nervous as she double faults to go down 0-30 and then hits a forehand unforced error to give Raducanu three break points. But the Canadian mounts a come back to even it at deuce. After five deuces, Raducanu comes through on her sixth break point as Fernandez cannot handle the return.
Raducanu serving to start things off. Fernandez wins the first point but Raducanu takes the opening game with a backhand crosscourt winner.
4:10 p.m. — Players take the court. The cheers for Fernandez are slightly louder.
3:50 p.m. — After her quarterfinal win over Elina Svitolina in the 2021 US Open, Fernandez was asked what they were feeding the Canadian players that had them playing such inspiring tennis. The just-turned 19-year-old responded, on cue: “I would say it’s the maple syrup.”
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