Tennis

Emma Raducanu, Leylah Fernandez set for first teenage US Open final since 1999

The 2021 US Open women’s singles final on Saturday is set to be one of the most unexpected matchups ever to take the court in a major tournament.

Canadian Leylah Fernandez, 19, will face off against Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu, 18, in the first matchup of two teenagers in the US Open final since Serena Williams beat Martina Hingis in New York in 1999.

It is also the highest combined ranking by two opponents in a major final since the 1976 Australian Open, with Fernandez ranked No. 73 and Raducanu ranked No. 150. And they become only the fourth and fifth women’s players ranked outside the top 50 ever to reach the US Open women’s final.

It gets even more historic. The Toronto-born, Britain-raised Raducanu became the first qualifier in men’s or women’s history to reach the final in a Grand Slam event. Only eight previous qualifiers had even reached the semifinals, and all of them had lost, according to Tennis.com.

Raducanu’s dominance on the court has been more than just reaching the final. She has not lost a set along the way, the first to run through the US Open bracket to the final without a set loss since Angelique Kerber in 2016. Williams was the most recent player to win in New York without dropping a set, which she did in 2014, according to ESPN Stats and Info.

Raducanu beat No. 18 Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-4 in the semifinals and No. 12 Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4 in the quarterfinals. She also beat Switzerland’s Stefanie Vogele, China’s Zhang Shuai, Spain’s Sara Sorribes Tormo and American Shelby Rogers in the US Open bracket.

Fernandez has faced a line of tough draws to reach this point. She stunned No. 3 Naomi Osaka 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4 in the quarterfinal, beat Kerber (currently ranked No. 17) 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the fourth round, took down No. 5 Elina Svitolina 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) in the quarterfinals and upset No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 in the semifinals to advance to reach her first-ever Grand Slam final.

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