Emma Raducanu Becomes the First Qualifier in History to Reach a Grand Slam Final

Emma Raducanu US Open semifinal
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With her dominant straight-set victory over Maria Sakkari, Emma Raducanu set up an all-teenage final at the US Open. Raducanu breezed through her three qualifying matches without dropping a set, but her wins would be even more convincing upon reaching the main draw. She has not dropped a set on the way to the final, looking to become the first woman since Serena Williams in 2014 to capture a US Open title without dropping a set. Even more impressive is the fact that Raducanu has not even been forced to play a tiebreak or pushed to a 7-5 set. She has dominated her way to the final, highlighted by wins over Sakkari who looked impressive all tournament, and Belinda Bencic, the Gold Medalist in Tokyo.

Road to the US Open

Raducanu began the summer ranked outside the Top 300 and was barely the 10th-ranked British player. She was granted a wild card entry to Wimbledon, though few had any expectations. She had entered the qualifying tournament twice previously, both times losing in the first round. Raducanu shocked and excited tennis fans by making the forth round in front of a passionate home crowd. Although she had to retire, she gained valuable experience that led her to this point.

Raducanu came into the US Open hoping to ride some of that momentum, though still without high expectations. She had not won a WTA match before Wimbledon. Nor did she win one since. The Brit only owned three tour-level wins entering the US Open, all coming at Wimbledon. This is just her second grand slam main draw, but she played with nothing to lose and is absolutely making the most of her chance.

Chances in the Final

Raducanu is truly facing the unprecedented task of attempting to win a Major as a qualifier. She is the first woman since Alexandra Stevenson in 1999 to even make the semifinals as a qualifier, which was previously the furthest anyone had progressed from qualifying. Raducanu is the first qualifier ever–man or woman–to reach a Grand Slam final. This was already a banner year for qualifiers, but the Brit’s run adds emphatic historic quality.

She has taken a different route from her opponent Leylah Fernandez, who has won multiple tight matches that could have gone either way, though the Canadian has faced a tougher draw. Fernandez is more familiar with success, capturing her first WTA title earlier this year. Raducanu, meanwhile, would be the first player since Jelena Ostapenko in 2017 to win a Major as her first title. The Brit has been more dominant on court, while Fernandez has seemed to have fate on her side with numerous close wins. Raducanu is playing free tennis and has not let anyone take a set off her–much less come close to beating her. If she keeps that up, she will capture the US Open title on Saturday.

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