Two teenage women who were barely known to anyone other than the most devout tennis fans before this U.S. Open will vie for the singles championship on Saturday in what has to be the most improbable matchup for a Grand Slam final since the modern era of tennis began more than 50 years ago.
On a Thursday night that would have been shocking had Emma Raducanu of Britain and Leylah Fernandez of Canada not been pulling rabbits out of their hats for the better part of two weeks, the two teenage sensations once again knocked off seasoned pros who exist in a different stratosphere in the world rankings.
First, Fernandez outlasted the second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, in three sets, 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4, in a nervy, error-filled match that saw both players let go of chances to put the battle away long before Sabalenka finished herself off with one last flurry of double faults. It was Fernandez’s fourth consecutive three-set win over one of the top 20 players in the world.
Then Raducanu took the stage at Arthur Ashe Stadium and did what she has been doing for more than a week — blitzing players far more accomplished and making them play their worst matches of the tournament. Raducanu ambushed the 17th-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece, 6-1, 6-4.
Emma Raducanu v. Leyla Fernandez in the U.S. Open Final
"… the most improbable matchup for a Grand Slam final since the modern era of tennis began more than 50 years ago."
Make no mistake, these young women are the two best players in the tournament.https://t.co/YhLvuQ6ELE
— Steve Holcombe (@Steve_Holcombe) September 10, 2021