Fernandez, Raducanu Set to Square Off in First Teenage U.S. Open Final Since 1999

Leylah Fernandez

The U.S. Open final is set for a historic matchup of teenage women.

After Canadian Leylah Fernandez defeated No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka, 7–6 (3), 4–6, 6–4, to punch her first shot at a Grand Slam title, Great Britain's Emma Raducanu posted a performance for the ages, defeating Maria Sakkari in straight sets to set up the first all-teenage U.S. Open final since 1999. 

The 1999 teenage matchup featured Martina Hingis and Serena Williams

Since rankings were introduced in 1975, only five players outside the Women's Tennis Association's (WTA) top 50 have reached a U.S. Open women's final. Saturday's final will feature Fernandez (73rd) and Raducanu (150th), according to ESPN Stats and Info

Fernandez trailed 3–0 in the first set but battled back to defeat Sabalenka in a tiebreaker, 7–3. Sabalenka took the second set before Fernandez made a comeback in the third to secure the win at Arthur Ashe Stadium. 

She became the fourth Canadian, male or female, to make a major final joining Eugenie Bouchard (2014, Wimbledon), Milos Raonic (2016, Wimbledon) and Bianca Andreescu ('19 U.S. Open winner), according to ESPN Stats and Info.

In Raducanu's stunning performance, she became the first woman to reach the U.S. Open final without dropping a set since Angelique Kerber in 2016. The last woman to win the Grand Slam title without dropping a set was Serena Williams in '14.

Before defeating Sabaleka in the semifinal match, Fernandez defeated reigning U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka, former world No. 1 Angelique Kerber and No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina. 

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After the match, Fernandez spoke to the media, saying she had "no idea how she won."

"I would say it's thanks to the New York crowd," Fernandez said. "They cheered me on, they never gave up and they pushed me to win. Thank you, New York.

"This is years and years and years of hard work and blood and tears. This is years of sacrifices. I just wanted to be in the final. ... I don't know how I got the last point and how I'm here, but I'm so glad."

Fernandez relished the opportunity to meet tennis legend Billie Jean King, Juan Martín del Potro and eight-time NBA All-Star Steve Nash.

"I don't know what's been the best part," Fernandez said. "I remember when I was younger, my dad used him as an example and told me I had to work hard like Steve Nash. Hopefully, we can have a tennis match soon."

It has been 53 years since a British woman played in a U.S. Open singles final. As Raducanu earned her spot in the Grand Slam title, the last British champion, Virginia Wade, watched her follow in her footsteps. 

Along with defeating Sakkari, Raducanu defeated Switzerland's Stefanie Vögele, China's Zhang Shuai, Spain's Sara Sorribes Tormo, American Shelby Rogers and Switzerland's Belinda Bencic. 

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