Emma Raducanu, a British teen, became the first qualifier to reach a Grand Slam final on Thursday, defeating Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-4 in her US Open semi-final (September 9). Raducanu fended off seven break points in her first two service games and capitalised on a trio of double faults from Sakkari to take a 5-0 lead in the first set in front of British tennis royalty Tim Henman and Virginia Wade.
Sakkari trailed by a break in the second set and fought off five break points in a nearly 10-minute seventh game, but Raducanu, 18, would not be denied the victory and went on to seal the match and set up a final against 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez. “Honestly, the time here in New York has flown by,” she remarked. “I’ve just been focusing on each day, and before you know it, three weeks later, I’m in the final, and I can’t believe it.”
Raducanu hasn’t dropped a set in New York and has completely outmatched 17th seed Sakkari, who reached the Roland Garros semi-finals this year. In the one-hour, twenty-four-minute match, the Greek committed 33 unforced errors and struggled mightily with her first serve.
(Teenage) dream final. pic.twitter.com/iKZkHuLAne
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 10, 2021
Raducanu, who electrified British tennis by reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon, was greeted warmly by the raucous crowds in New York and beamed up at the stands inside Arthur Ashe Stadium after winning the match with a forehand winner.
“I’ve had incredible support in New York since I arrived for my first round qualies match, and you guys have made me feel right at home,” she said. “I was ecstatic to come out here and play in front of you guys.”
Raducanu now has the opportunity to become the first British woman to win a Grand Slam since Wade in 1977.
(with Reuters inputs)