Teenager Raducanu reaches US Open final

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/tennis/58511033

Emma Raducanu celebrates winning her US Open semi-final
Emma Raducanu is playing in only her second Grand Slam tournament
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Date: 30 August-12 September
Coverage: Daily radio commentaries on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra/BBC Sport website and app, with selected live text commentaries and match reports on the website and app

British teenager Emma Raducanu reached the US Open final as her meteoric rise continued with a stunning straight-set win over Greek 17th seed Maria Sakkari in New York.

Raducanu, 18, extended her dream run with a 6-1 6-4 victory in which her dominance again almost defied belief.

She is the first qualifier to reach a Grand Slam final and will play another teenager Leylah Fernandez on Saturday.

Raducanu is the first British woman in a major singles final in 44 years.

Watched on by Virginia Wade – the last woman to achieve that feat at Wimbledon in 1977 – Raducanu produced another fearless and ruthless victory that stunned those watching on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

After confidently swatting away a volley on her first match point, Raducanu immediately dropped her racquet on the court and covered her mouth with both hands.

Quickly she broke out into a beaming smile before lapping up the acclaim of a rapturous crowd on the world’s biggest tennis court.

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

After coming through three qualifying matches to reach the main draw, she has not dropped a set in any of her nine matches at Flushing Meadows.

It is only Raducanu’s second Grand Slam tournament and the fourth tour-level event of her career.

Additionally, Raducanu is:

  • the youngest British Grand Slam finalist in 62 years, since Christine Truman reached the French Open final aged 18 in 1959
  • the first British woman to reach a US Open final in 53 years, following Wade in 1968

Before her run to the Wimbledon last 16 earlier this summer, Raducanu was ranked 336th in the world.

This win puts her on the verge of the top 30 after already being assured of becoming the British women’s number one by reaching the last four at Flushing Meadows.

Most pertinently, it gives the Kent teenager – who also passed her A Levels this summer – the opportunity to win one of tennis’ most prestigious titles when she faces Canadian 19-year-old Fernandez at 21:00 BST on Saturday.

Given the one-sided nature of the victory against Sakkari – and those before it – Raducanu will not be fazed by the occasion.

Fast start pays dividends for Raducanu

Reaching the last 16 at Wimbledon on her Grand Slam debut catapulted Raducanu into stardom, yet somehow she has managed to surpass what she achieved there with the extraordinary exploits in New York.

Yet again she dismantled a much more experienced opponent with such ease that it breathtakingly belied her age and experience.

Former British number one Greg Rusedski said her performance against Sakkari was “worthy of a world number one”.

French Open semi-finalist Sakkari, like those opponents before her, were left befuddled by Raducanu’s poise and execution. The Greek, who was also aiming to reach her maiden Grand Slam final, was unable to cope with Raducanu’s intensity and could not find a solution to negate it.

Raducanu faced seven break points in her opening two service games, seeing them all off to hold both and move into a 3-0 lead with a break sandwiched in-between.

Sakkari became frustrated with her inability to take her opportunities, chuntering at her box and complaining to the umpire before running off to swap her skirt at the first changeover.

In contrast to Sakkari’s anxious demeanour, Raducanu seemed completely unflustered by the occasion.

That continued as the Briton, backed by a few fans dressed in Union Jack colours and waving flags, won all the decisive points on the way to clinching the opening set in 36 minutes.

More to follow.

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