Published on : Amended on :
Britain’s Emma Raducanu won the US Open on Saturday. She became the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title.
It is an incredible performance that has just achieved Emma Raducanu. The only 18-year-old Briton won the US Open, Saturday, September 11 in New York, beating the Canadian in the final (6-4, 6-3) Leylah Fernandez, 19 years old.
She became the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam title and also the youngest since Maria Sharapova of Russia, who won Wimbledon at 17 in 2004.
Her feat is all the more impressive as Raducanu, world No. 150, took everything in her path, leaving no crumbs to her opponents : she won all ten matches, qualifying included, by 20 sets to 0. The last to achieve such “perfect” at the US Open was Serena Williams in 2014.
In front of her was Fernandez (73e), the other sensation of the New York fortnight, who, without having swept her rivals, managed to overturn very compromised situations, at the expense of opponents yet seasoned.
She had thus blocked the path of three of the top five players in the world : the Japanese Naomi Osaka (3rd), last year’s winner, the Ukrainian Elina Svitolina (5th) and the Belarusian Aryna Sabalenka (2nd).
But this time, she could not cope with Raducanu who she found for the first time in the pros, three years after her defeat against the British in the 2nd round of the Wimbledon Junior tournament.
The context was obviously quite different, in the heart of the cauldron of Arthur Ashe and its some 23,000 electric fans, including Billie Jean King, one of the greatest champions of all time who must have enjoyed seeing the tennis of tomorrow burst into the open before her eyes.
A star is born
Raducanu will have been, as expected, the most aggressive in this final, like this successful entry break, taking advantage of the feverish service of his opponent who will not cease to pay the expensive price during this encounter.
Fernandez managed to break through because she was able to compete in the exchange, demonstrating that without being so powerful, she knew very well how to counterattack and impose rallies. But after 58 hard-fought minutes, it was the British woman who again made the difference on her opponent’s serve, with a superb forehand.
The Canadian, led by a first ball barely exceeding 50% success and a second often punished by the returns of her opponent, again surrendered twice her commitment in the second set that she had nevertheless started well by breaking the first.
After saving two match points at 5-2 on her serve, she fought like a devil to delay the deadline, finally dropping her shots. On one of them offering him a debreak ball, Raducanu grated his left knee on a slide, a tear of blood running down his leg.
After a medical timeout, slightly challenged by Fernandez aware that her momentum could be broken, the Romanian, after a difficult smash past ric-rac, offered herself her third match ball. Good.
Raducanu collapsed with joy under the vivats. A star was born in Flushing Meadows that no one saw coming, except perhaps observers who remember that at Wimbledon this summer she had reached the 8th finals, then benefiting from an invitation.
She had then abandoned in the 8th of final, suffocated by the stakes, victim of respiratory problems. This time it was she who took the breath away around her.