By Jagriti Choudhry
In a historic final, under the floodlights at Flushing Meadows, 18-year-old Emma Raducanu won the US Open 2021 beating fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez in straight sets, 6-3,6-4.
The women’s final at the Arthur Ashe Stadium witnessed two young stars playing their maiden grand slam final, performing exemplary tennis in the first all-teenage Championship clash since 1999. Raducanu became the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam singles final since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977.
Raducanu broke several records on her way to victory. After reaching the main draw by qualifying, Raducanu is the first tennis player ever to win a slam without dropping a set. Playing 10 rounds and winning 20 consecutive sets she is also the only qualifier ever to win a slam.
Earlier in July, Raducanu rose to fame after her magnificent performance on the grass at Wimbledon. However in her fourth-round match, Raducanu took a medical time out after feeling ill. Eventually, a set down and trailing in the second set with declining health, she had to give her opponent, Ajla Tomljanovic, a walkover.
Despite outed in the round of 16 at the All England Club, Emma Raducanu was a star to watch after her admirable performance as an eighteen-year-old.
Entering the US Open, Emma Raducanu played three qualifying rounds to reach the main draw. She was tested when her draw in the pre-quarter finals was against Shelby Rogers, followed by Belinda Bencic in quarters and Maria Sakkari in the finals. Emma passed her test with flying colours, making her way to her first grand slam final.
The final match was highly anticipated as two next-gen players, Raducanu and Fernandez, played in the biggest tennis stadium in the world in front of 27,000 spectators.
Under the floodlights at Arthur Ashe stadium, it took Raducanu four set points before she could break Fernandez’s serve to seal the first set 6-4 and take the reign of the finals in her hands. In the second set, Raducanu broke Fernandez twice and was serving for the championship. She successfully converted her third championship point with a powerful ace and fell to the ground in sheer joy.
Becoming the first player ever to win a slam as a qualifier and not dropping a single set is just too good to be true. Raducanu has shown her potential already as a junior player and at The Wimbledon and her performance this week is a reassurance of her caliber.
“You say, ‘I want to win a Grand Slam,’ but to have the belief I did, and actually executing, winning a Grand Slam, I can’t believe it.”Emma Raducanu at the post-match conference
At the beginning of 2021 Raducanu was ranked 345 in the world. After winning the slam she is the British world no. 1 and world no. 23. After the spectacular performance in the last few months, Raducanu will be a player to watch in 2022.