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‘She is a star, no question’: 10 reasons why Emma Raducanu can clinch US Open final

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Emma Raducanu is one match away from winning the US Open after making history as the first qualifier to reach a Grand Slam final.

Raducanu, 18, earned a place in the record books by defeating 17th-seeded Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-4 in straight sets during a stunning semi-final on Thursday night.

Now the British tennis sensation, ranked 150th in the world, will face Canadian rival, Leylah Fernandez, 19, in the fight for the title at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday.

Emma Raducanu of Great Britain hits a forehand against Maria Sakkari of Greece (not pictured)on day eleven of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
Image: Raducanu hits a forehand on day 11 of the 2021 U.S. Open

It will be the first major final between two teens since the 1999 US Open, which saw Serena Williams, 17, thrash 18-year-old Martina Hingis.

Here’s 10 reasons why Raducanu can claim victory in tonight’s match.

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The Duchess of Cambridge has wished the teenage British tennis ace the ‘best of luck’ ahead of the US Open final

She hasn’t dropped a single set

Raducanu became the first player this century to make the second week of her first two Grand Slam main draw appearances.

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Over nine matches, including three qualifying games, to reach the main draw, Raducanu has yet to concede a single set at Flushing Meadows.

Meanwhile, Fernandez has been forced to play three sets in her last four matches.

After her semi-final win Fernandez said: "There's no limit to what I can do"
Image: Both Leylah Fernandez and Emma Raducanu have never reached a Grand Slam final before

No pressure

Both Raducanu and Fernandez are unseeded at the US Open, and appear unflustered by better-known and more successful challengers.

But when asked about expectation to win the final, Raducanu joked: “I’m a qualifier so there’s no pressure on me!”

Emma Raducanu of Great Britain celebrates after her match against Maria Sakkari of Greece (not pictured) on day eleven of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
Image: Emma Raducanu joked: “I’m a qualifier so there’s no pressure on me!” ahead of the US Open final.

“Fearless” youth

Raducanu is the youngest Slam finalist since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon, aged 17, in 2004.

Sakkari, 26, said of both US Open finalists: “They are both young. They play fearless.

“They have nothing to lose playing against us.”

And Raducanu agrees: “Being young, there is an element of you do play completely free.”

Evenly matched

Neither has reached a Grand Slam final, meaning it will be an equally new experience for both.

Raducanu made it to the fourth round in Wimbledon, her only previous major tournament, before pulling out in the second set due to breathing problems.

Fernandez’s best past performance at a Slam was reaching the third round at Roland Garros last year.

Fernandez celebrates after her match against Aryna Sabalenka
Image: Fernandez’s best performance was reaching the third round of Roland Garros last year

Previous victory

Both women first met when they were playing in under-12 tournaments – before clashing in the Wimbledon junior tournament’s second round in 2018.

Raducanu won three years ago – with fans believing she can do the same again when they share a court for the first time in a tour-level match, albeit with much more at stake.

Stamina

Raducanu has already proved she is fresher than Fernandez.

Despite playing nine games compared to her opponent’s six, the Brit has spent less time on court – beating all of her competitors in less time than the Canadian’s shortest win, one hour and 45 minutes, over Croatian Ana Konjuh in the opening round.

Emma Raducanu of Great Britain (L) shakes hands with Maria Sakkari of Greece (R) after their match on day eleven of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center
Image: Raducanu shakes hands with Sakkari after their match

Raducanu obliterated Sakkari, a highly experienced rival, in 84 minutes in what has been hailed a “gladiatorial” performance.

Star quality

Virginia Wade, the last British woman to reach this stage of the US Open 53 years ago, is in no doubt of Raducanu’s talent.

“She is a star, no question,” Wade told Sky News.

“I think that she’s one of the people who looks good young and will always be one of the top contenders.”

Pride of Britain

Raducanu, the youngest British major finalist in 62 years, can count on the nation’s support, with Kate Middleton, Boris Johnson, Liam Gallagher and Marcus Rashford congratulating the teen on her semi-final win.

The Duchess of Cambridge praised Raducanu’s “incredible achievement”, tweeting: “We will all be rooting for you.”

Emma Raducanu. Pic: Scott Trindle
Image: Emma Raducanu in her debut in British Vogue magazine Pic: Scott Trindle

Self-belief

Raducanu told Sky News how she was “feeling good” when she arrived for a practice session ahead of the US Open final on Friday.

But despite her extraordinary achievements, Raducanu remains extremely humble.

Speaking on court after her win, she said: “I knew I had some sort of level inside of me that was similar to these girls, but I didn’t know if I was able to maintain it over a set or over two sets.

“To be able to do it and play the best players in the world and beat them, I honestly can’t believe it.”

And she has credited her “amazing” team in New York for her incredible success.

Emma Raducanu. Pic: Scott Trindle
Image: The teen’s success on the court has earned her a spread in Vogue magazine. Pic: Scott Trindle

Fame and fortune

Before reaching the US Open, Raducanu’s career winnings totalled around £219,591.

But her place in the final has guaranteed her a runners up prize of at least £900,000 – while winning the title would earn her £1.8m.

Now she is on course to eclipse the popularity of many fellow sports stars, with some tipping her to be as “famous and well-known as Rihanna” – while her success has already earned her a feature in British Vogue.