US Open

‘Impossible is nothing’: Fernandez, Raducanu arrange all-teen US Open final

Reuters
‘Impossible is nothing’: Fernandez, Raducanu arrange all-teen US Open final

HISTORY. Emma Raducanu (left) and Leylah Fernandez gun for their maiden Grand Slam crown.

REUTERS

It will be the first time since the 1999 US Open that the championship will be contested by two teenagers

Ranked No. 73 in the world at the start of the US Open, getting to the Grand Slam final would have been considered mission impossible for Leylah Fernandez

But the 19-year-old will now take on British qualifier Emma Raducanu, who has also beaten huge odds to set up an all-teenage final on Saturday, September 11 (Sunday, September 12, Manila time). 

It will mark the eighth time a Grand Slam final in the Open era will be contested by two teenagers, and the first since the 1999 US Open between Serena Williams and Martina Hingis.

“Impossible is nothing,” said Fernandez. “Like my dad would tell me all the time, there’s no limit to my potential, to what I can do.”

“Every day we just got to keep working hard, we got to keep going for it,” added Fernandez, who shocked world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka, 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4, to reach her first Grand Slam final.

“There’s no limit to what I can do.”

The 18-year-old Raducanu became the first qualifier to reach the US Open final on Thursday by beating Greece’s Maria Sakkari, 6-1, 6-4.

With British tennis royalty Tim Henman and Virginia Wade looking on from the stands, Raducanu fended off seven break points across her first two service games and capitalized on a trio of double faults from Sakkari on the way to a 5-0 lead in the first set.

Down a break in the second set, Sakkari then fought off five break points in a near 10-minute seventh game, but Raducanu would not be denied and went on to seal the match to set up a final against Fernandez.

“The time here in New York has gone so fast,” said Raducanu. “I’ve just been taking care of each day, and before you know three weeks later, I’m in the final and I can’t actually believe it.”

Really wanted it’

Fernandez pulled off stunners over four-time Grand Slam winner and defending champion Naomi Osaka in the third round, three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber in the fourth, and fifth seed Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinal.

When asked how she pulled off another upset, Fernandez said: “I have no idea.”

“I just wanted to be in the finals, I really wanted it,” said Fernandez, whose  father Jorge is a former professional football player of Ecuadorian descent, while her mother Irene Exevea is Canadian of Filipino origins.

Against Sabalenka, who was bidding for her first Grand Slam final, it looked as if Fernandez might be blown off the court. But she steadied herself and reproduced the kind of fearless shot-making that has made her the darling of Flushing Meadows.

“This is what we call pressure,” summed up Sabalenka, who fired 10 aces, but had no better luck against the youngster Fernandez, who played with veteran poise throughout the three-set thriller.

“I had a lot of opportunities and I didn’t use it.”

“Well, this is life. If you’re not using your opportunities, someone else will use it,” she added. “This is what happened today.” 

Raducanu, who electrified British tennis with her run to the fourth round of Wimbledon, has been embraced by the rowdy crowds in New York and beamed up at the stands inside Arthur Ashe Stadium after closing out the match with a forehand winner.

“Since I’ve been in New York for my first round qualies match, I’ve had unbelievable support in New York and you guys have made me feel right at home,” she said.

“I was just so excited to come out here and play in front of you guys.”

Raducanu now has the chance to become the first British woman to win a Grand Slam since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977. – Rappler.com

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