Emma Raducanu reacts after reaching US Open final
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While all eyes have been on Emma Raducanu’s sensational US Open run from a British perspective, her final opponent has had an equally impressive fortnight in Flushing Meadows. Leylah Annie Fernandez turned 19 years old on Monday and started the tournament ranked down at world No 73, beating former Grand Slam champions and three top-five players en route to the final. Ahead of the final, the Canadian has revealed that a teacher once told her to stop playing tennis.
Fernandez’s performance in the US Open has gone somewhat overlooked, especially from a British perspective, when compared to that of Raducanu’s.
The Brit world No 150 made history by becoming the first-ever qualifier, man or woman, to make a Grand Slam final, and has impressed by failing to drop a set across three qualifying matches and six main-draw matches.
While the Canadian’s run has been less historic, Fernandez herself is ranked low down, outside of seeding position, at world No 73 and had never made the second week of a Grand Slam before the US Open.
In any other tournament, the 19-year-old would likely be the fairytale story, having beaten defending champion and world No 3 Naomi Osaka, three-time Grand Slam champion Angie Kerber, world No 5 Elina Svitolina and world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka to make her maiden Grand Slam final.
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Fernandez, who only turned 19 on Monday, had already started to establish herself on the tour, winning a title in Monterrey earlier this year.
The Canadian was still a lesser-known name at the bigger tournaments until she stunned the tennis world by making the US Open final by beating a host of the world’s too players, and has since admitted that she was told to quit tennis when she was younger.
“A teacher told me to stop playing tennis, you’ll never make it, just focus on school,” the world No 73 said, speaking in her post-match press conference after overcoming second seed Sabalenka to book a spot in the final.
“I’m glad she told me that because every day I have had that phrase in my head. I think, ‘I’m going to prove to her that I’m going to achieve everything I dreamed of’.”
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The Canadian added: “Now I can say that I’ve done a pretty good job in achieving my dreams.”
This year’s US Open is Fernandez’s seventh Grand Slam tournament, with her previous career-best showing coming to an end in the third round at last year’s postponed Roland Garros in October.
Meanwhile, Raducanu is playing in just her second-ever Major, having received a wildcard into Wimbledon earlier this year, where she stormed to the second week.
The Brit has played three more matches than her Canadian opponent, having come through qualifying, but has spent less time on court having failed to lose a set through nine matches.
Raducanu has spent a total of 694 minutes across nine matches on court, with 232 of those minutes coming from her three qualifying matches plus 462 across six main-draw matches.
Meanwhile, Fernandez has spent 765 minutes on court across her six matches in the main-draw.
The pair have never officially faced off on tour, but met in the second round of junior Wimbledon three years ago, where the Brit sealed a 6-2 6-4 victory.
They will take to the court for what is both their maiden Grand Slam final at 9pm BST on Saturday (September 11) with coverage starting at 8pm on Prime Video and Channel 4.
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