Saturday, September 11, 2021

Qualifier Raducanu, 18, beats Fernandez for Open title

Emma Raducanu, shown in San Jose last month, did not lose a set in 10 matches
at Flushing Meadows. Only once, in the second round of qualifying, did she drop
as many as five games in a set. Photo by Mal Taam
   Emma Raducanu burst onto the scene at Wimbledon in July. Only two months later, she became a Grand Slam singles champion.
   The first qualifier in tennis history to reach a major final, the 18-year-old Briton beat unseeded Leylah Fernandez, a Canadian who turned 19 on Monday, 6-4, 6-3 today to win the U.S. Open. Neither finalist had been born on 9/11, which occurred exactly 20 years ago.
   It was the first all-teenage final in a Grand Slam tournament since Serena Williams, 17, defeated Martina Hingis, 18, in the 1999 U.S. Open.
   "Everything came together today," Raducanu told reporters. "To pull off some of the shots I did in the big moments was just an accumulation of everything I've learned in the past five weeks."
   Fernandez said the loss "definitely stings, but it will just make me want to work harder."
   Raducanu, ranked No. 338 before Wimbledon, skyrocketed 127 places to No. 23 with the title. She became the first British woman to win a major singles crown since Virginia Wade in 1977 and the first to capture the U.S. Open since Wade in 1968, the first year of Open tennis. Wade, 76, attended today's final. 
   Raducanu, the youngest Grand Slam champion since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon at 17 in 2004, did not lose a set in 10 matches at Flushing Meadows. Only once, in the second round of qualifying, did she surrender as many as five games in a set.
   Raducanu was born in, ironically, Toronto to a Romanian father and Chinese mother and moved to England when she was 2. In July, she became the youngest British woman to advance to the round of 16 at Wimbledon in the Open Era. Under massive pressure in her home country, Raducanu retired because of an anxiety attack while trailing Ajla Tomljanovic 4-6, 0-3.
   In Raducanu's first match after Wimbledon, she lost to Zhang Shuai of China 6-3, 6-2 in the opening round of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose as a wild card.
   Fernandez, who soared from No. 73 to No. 28, was trying to become the second 19-year-old Canadian in three years to win the U.S. Open. Bianca Andreescu stunned Serena Williams for the 2019 title.
   Fernandez advanced to the final with four consecutive three-set victories over seeds. She ousted No. 3 seed Naomi Osaka, who won her second U.S. Open title last year, in the third round, No. 16 seed Angelique Kerber, the 2016 U.S. Open champion, in the round of 16, No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals and No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka in the semifinals.
   Raducanu saved eight of 10 break points in the first set, winning it on a forehand passing shot down the line on her fourth break point of the game. She broke for 4-2 in the second set with a forehand passing shot down the line and held for 5-2. Fernandez then saved two championship points and held for 3-5. 
   Raducano took a medical timeout for a cut below her left knee while serving at 5-3, 30-40. She escaped two break points and converted her third championship point with an ace.
   Mixed doubles — No. 2 seeds Desirae Krawczyk of Palm Desert, Calif., and Joe Salisbury of Great Britain defeated unseeded Giuliana Olmos, an Austria native who grew up in Fremont in the San Francisco Bay Area and represents Mexico, and Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador 7-5, 6-2 in the final.
   Krawczyk, a 27-year-old left-hander, won her third consecutive Grand Slam mixed doubles title. She captured the French Open with Salisbury and Wimbledon with Neal Skupski of Great Britain this year.
   Salisbury became the first player to win the men's doubles and mixed doubles titles in the same year at the U.S. Open since Bob Bryan (Stanford, 1997-98) in 2010.
   Boys doubles — No. 8 seeds Viatcheslav Bielinskyi of Ukraine and Petr Nesterov of Bulgaria defeated wild cards Nicholas Godsick of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and Ethan Quinn of Fresno, Calif., 7-6 (2), 6-3 on Friday in the semifinals.
   Godsick's parents are Mary Joe Fernandez, a former top-five player in singles and doubles who now works as an ESPN commentator, and Tony Godsick, Roger Federer's agent.

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