US Open: Qualifier Raducanu makes history after powering past Fernandez in pulsating final

By Sports Desk September 11, 2021

Emma Raducanu became the first qualifier in tennis history to win a grand slam final after beating Leylah Fernandez 6-4 6-3 in the US Open final on Saturday.

Eighteen-year-old Raducanu, who was ranked 150 by the WTA before the tournament and had only played in one other major (Wimbledon earlier this year), enjoyed a sensational run at Flushing Meadows and proved too strong for Fernandez, 19, who was also contesting her first grand slam final.

Briton Raducanu – the youngest women's grand slam finalist since a 17-year-old Maria Sharapova took the title at Wimbledon in 2004 – showed no signs of nerves in the opening set, taking a decisive advantage.

A roller-coaster second set could have gone either way, but from a break down, Raducanu hit back to serve out the victory in an epic final between two of tennis' rising stars.

Neither player looked fazed by the magnitude of the occasion during the first set, with a series of high-quality rallies and superb winners lighting up Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Raducanu started strongly and went 2-0 up after a pulsating game on Fernandez’s serve, which lasted more than 10 minutes and had seen the Canadian save five break points before eventually succumbing.

Fernandez responded well, though, breaking back immediately before restoring parity on her own serve.

The first set went with serve until Fernandez was serving to stay in it at 5-4 down.

Raducanu squandered three set points before ultimately taking her fourth with a thumping forehand down the line, securing the lead after exactly one hour.

The British player had three break points in the second game of the second set, but Fernandez rallied to hold.

That recovery galvanised Fernandez, who broke Raducanu in the next game at the third time of asking, although her opponent broke back immediately with two wonderful backhands to see out the game.

Raducanu held her serve before opening up a 4-2 lead as Fernandez wilted under a string of excellent shots.

After a dramatic medical time out at 30-40 down on her own serve for a cut below her left knee, which left Fernandez visibly frustrated, Raducanu came back out renewed and served an ace to seal arguably the most unlikely grand slam win of all time.

Related items

  • Wimbledon: 'I am worried' – Nadal admits he is no sure thing to play in the semi-final Wimbledon: 'I am worried' – Nadal admits he is no sure thing to play in the semi-final

    Rafael Nadal says he does not know if he will be able to play in his semi-final against Nick Kyrgios after aggravating an abdominal injury during his five-set victory over Taylor Fritz.

    Nadal, 36, has been vocal about his struggles physically during the tournament, but had been determined to push through the pain in an effort to keep his chances at the calendar slam alive, having already won this year's Australian Open and French Open.

    During his quarter-final win against Fritz, family members were imploring Nadal to retire from the match as his clear discomfort appeared to be getting the better of him at times.

    He admitted in his post-match media appearance that his condition worsened during the match, saying he will prioritise his health if he has to make a tough decision.

    "I don't know [if I will be able to play] – I am going to have some more tests, but it is difficult to know," he said.

    "I had these feelings for a couple of days, but without a doubt, today was the worst day. There has been an important increase of pain and limitation.

    "I am worried. I don't have a decision. I need to know different opinions and I need to check everything the proper way.

    "There is something more important than winning Wimbledon, and that is health."

    The winner between Nadal and Kyrgios will face the winner of Novak Djokovic's semi-final against Cameron Norrie in the decider.

  • Williamson out to prove he is a winner by helping New Orleans Pelicans to NBA title Williamson out to prove he is a winner by helping New Orleans Pelicans to NBA title

    Zion Williamson received the ultimate present on his 22nd birthday. 

    As a thank you, he wants to deliver a championship to the New Orleans Pelicans. 

    Williamson officially signed his five-year, $231million rookie max extension with the Pelicans at a YMCA in New Orleans where he was hosting a camp.  

    He signed the deal on Wednesday, the same day he turned 22, and sitting alongside Pelicans general manager Trajan Langdon, executive VP of basketball operations David Griffin and coach Willie Green, Williamson – not surprisingly – said this is the number one birthday he has ever had. 

    "For the Pelicans to give me this birthday gift, I'm not going to let them down," Williamson said. 

    A year ago on his birthday, Williamson found out he broke his foot forcing him to miss the entire 2021-22 season. Now that he has been cleared to play, he has lofty goals. 

    "I want to prove that I'm a winner, it's as simple as that," he said. "The ultimate goal is to win a championship. And I feel like that's what we're all striving for." 

    The Pelicans made the playoffs this past season without Williamson and took the No. 1 seed Phoenix Suns to six games before being ousted. 

    With Williamson in the fold, the hope is he can help the franchise take the next step. 

    "It's gonna all come together at some point throughout the course of the season," Green said. "And when it does, I think we can be a scary team."

    Williamson has only appeared in a mere 85 games since being the top pick of the 2019 NBA draft, but he has been outstanding when healthy, averaging 25.7 points, 7 rebounds and 3.2 assists while shooting just over 60 per cent. 

    Since his rookie season, Williamson has been instrumental to New Orleans' success. The Pelicans have won 47.1 per cent of their games while averaging 116.4 points in the 85 games Williamson has played, compared to winning 40.4 per cent of the games and an average of 111.1 points in the contests he has missed.  

    "Adding [Zion] back on the court with the group that we have is going to be a lot of fun but also really dangerous for the entire league and all of the 29 teams that have to face us night in and night out," Langdon said. "We are incredibly excited about that."

    Suiting up alongside Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum, Williamson gives the Pelicans another scoring threat making the offense even more dangerous. New Orleans' offense thrived after acquiring McCollum last February, averaging 115.9 points after the trade compared to an average of 105.9 points in their first 54 games. 

    "We have an opportunity to be able to run toward sustained success for quite a long time," Griffin said. "We're young, we're talented, and most importantly – we are very hungry." 

  • Wizards star Beal only player with no-trade clause in NBA Wizards star Beal only player with no-trade clause in NBA

    Bradley Beal's five-year, $251million contract with the Washington Wizards includes a no-trade clause that makes the three-time All-Star guard the only player in the NBA to have a "true no trade clause", according to ESPN's Bobby Marks. 

    Marks also says Beal is the 10th player in NBA history to have the clause in a deal, joining LeBron James, Kevin Garnett, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade, Tim Duncan, David Robinson and John Stockton. 

    Beal was eligible to negotiate the clause because he has been in the league for at least eight seasons and spent at least the previous four campaigns with his current team.

    He has been with the Wizards since they selected him third overall in the 2012 NBA Draft. 

    Beal's 25.8 points per game since the 2016-17 season is the 10th-highest scoring average in the NBA over that span. He was limited to 40 games in 2021-22 before undergoing season-ending surgery on his left wrist. 

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.