US Open: Shock triumph highlights the strength of women's tennis, says record-breaking Raducanu

By Sports Desk September 11, 2021

Emma Raducanu believes her shock US Open triumph highlights just how strong women's tennis is after winning Saturday's final against Leylah Fernandez ​in straight sets to become the first qualifier in history to win a grand slam.

The 18-year-old, ranked 150 by the WTA before beginning her tournament in New York some three weeks ago, prevailed 6-4 6-3 against fellow debutant finalist Fernandez.

Victory in Saturday's final caps a remarkable and life-changing couple of months for Raducanu, who also reached the last 16 of Wimbledon before pulling out of the competition due to medical reasons.

Raducanu is the youngest women's grand slam finalist since a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova took the title at Wimbledon in 2004 and she feels the women's game is in strong hands.

"First of all, I really want to congratulate Leylah and her team – she played some incredible tennis and has beaten some of the top players in the world," Raducanu said in her on-court interview as she was handed the trophy by the legendary Billie Jean King.

"The level was extremely high and I hope we play each other in many more tournaments and hopefully finals.

"It shows the future of women's tennis and depth of the game is so great, every player in the draw has a shot at winning any tournament. 

"I hope the next generation can follow in the steps of some of the legends, for example Billie Jean right here."

 

Raducanu did not drop a set in her remarkable run at Flushing Meadows as she became the first British female to win a major tournament since Virginia Wade on home soil at Wimbledon 44 years ago.

Wade was in attendance for the final at Arthur Ashe Stadium – as was Tim Henman – and Raducanu will now be out to match or indeed better the success of the three-time grand slam winner.

"It means so much to have Virginia here and also Tim , British icons and for me to follow in their footsteps... it gave me the belief I could do it."

Raducanu proved too strong for world number 73 Fernandez with a perfect mix of power and precision that saw her hit 22 winners to her opponent's 18.

Only twice did Fernandez break Raducanu and the British teenager won 67 per cent of points behind her first serve.

"Leylah is always going to play great tennis and fight, that is why she is in the final, I knew I would have to dig deep," Raducanu said.

"As for this three weeks in New York, I would say having such a supportive team, the LTA my agent, and everyone back home watching on TV, thank you so much for your support over the years.

"Thank you for making me feel so at home from my first qualifying match, you have spurred me on in some difficult moments and I hope me and Leylah put on a good match today."

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    Djokovic tore the medial meniscus in his right knee at the French Open earlier this month, withdrawing ahead of a scheduled quarter-final against Casper Ruud.

    He underwent surgery on the injury less than three weeks ago but still travelled to SW19 on Monday and was seen out on the practice courts.

    However, the Serbian will only participate if he feels he has a realistic chance of an eighth Wimbledon crown, which would equal Roger Federer's all-time record. 

    "I didn't come here to play a few rounds," Djokovic told BBC Sport. "You can never know 100% what is going to happen at a tournament, but I'm going to make a decision based on the feeling that I have.

    "If I know I can play close to my maximum or at maximum, then I'll play. If not, then I'll give somebody else a chance to play."

    Asked if his maximum meant a title push, Djokovic replied: "That's why I'm here. 

    "I don't plan to retire or for this to be my last Wimbledon. The injury happened at an unfortunate moment but it's part of the sport."

    Having gone through a two-hour session with bandaging on his affected knee on Monday, Djokovic added his recovery is going well and said he will give himself as much time as possible to make a decision.

    "It's been going well. Rehab is going in the right direction every single day, a few per cent better and better. That's what's giving me hope and encouragement," he said.

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    Emma Raducanu is thrilled to have "rekindled" her love for tennis, with the former US Open champion admitting she is "in a lot better spirits on and off the court".

    The world number 168, who had not played since the Madrid Open in April, marked her return from injury with a run to the Nottingham Open semi-finals just over a week ago. 

    Last year, Raducanu underwent wrist and ankle surgery that, at one point, confined her to a mobility scooter, but she has prioritised fitness over competition during the 2024 season.

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    "I'm very happy to have rekindled the love for tennis and just enjoying the challenges that come with it and not getting so down about it, just trying a way to go around.

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