Britain’s Raducanu sets up US Open title clash against Canada’s Fernandez

Great Britain’s Emma Raducanu continued her dominant form at Flushing Meadows, defeating No.18 Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1, 6-4 in the semifinals to advance to her first major final at the US Open on Friday (IST). The 18-year-old became the first qualifier, male or female, to ever advance to a major final.

Raducanu will face 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez in the final on Saturday, in the first all-teenage major final since Serena Williams defeated Martina Hingis at the 1999 US Open.

Playing in just her second Slam and making her US Open debut, Raducanu has not come close to losing a single set through six matches. With wins over Olympic gold medallist Belinda Bencic in the quarterfinals and Sakkari in the semifinals, the 150th-ranked Raducanu scored back-to-back top-20 wins for the first time in her career.

Sakkari earned a spot in her second major semifinal of the season with a stunning pair of top-10 wins over 2019 champion Bianca Andreescu of Canada and world No.4 Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. The 26-year-old from Greece came into the match full of confidence, particularly after her stunning straight-set win over Pliskova in the quarterfinals, a match in which she never faced a break point.

While Sakkari had made her first major semifinal just three months at the French Open, where she came within a point of the final, Raducanu was bidding to make her first tour-level final. The teen played her first WTA tournament on the grass of Nottingham in June, and in her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon, she progressed to the Round of 16.

Raducanu built on her strong summer with a run to the final of the WTA 125K in Chicago last month and hasn’t lost a set of tennis since. On Monday, she will end Johanna Konta’s 310-week reign as the No.1 British woman, with a chance to rise to No.24 if she captures the title.

The key moments came early in the match, as Sakkari earned a total of seven break points across Raducanu’s first two service games, but could not convert. Instead, it was Raducanu breaking Sakkari in her first service game before racing to a 5-0 lead. Having wiped out Sakkari’s early chances and the Greek struggling to find her range off the ground, Raducanu never faced a break point for the remainder of the match.

Raducanu hit 16 winners to 17 unforced errors, while Sakkari struggled to control the ball, hitting 17 winners to 33 unforced errors. Raducanu served at 71 per cent first serves in and dominated her service games, winning 72 per cent of her first serve and, most importantly, 69 per cent of her second serves. Ultimately, Sakkari won just 29 per cent of her return points in the match.