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US Open Tennis 2021 Women's Final: Leylah Fernandez vs. Emma Raducanu Preview

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IISeptember 11, 2021

Leylah Fernandez, of Canada, returns a shot to Aryna Sabalenka,of Belarus, during the semifinals of the US Open tennis championships, Thursday, Sept. 9, 2021, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

Ashleigh Barty won't be adding a U.S. Open title to her resume, Naomi Osaka won't be winning for the third time in four years and Aryna Sabalenka won't be capturing her first Grand Slam title. Instead, an unseeded teenager will be leaving the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center as the 2021 U.S. Open champion.

In an improbable matchup of two inexperienced youngsters, 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez of Canada and 18-year-old Emma Raducanu of Great Britain will be playing in Saturday's U.S. Open women's singles final. Neither player had previously even reached the quarterfinals of a major tournament, with Fernandez playing in only her seventh Grand Slam event and Raducanu her second.

Make no mistakes about it, though: Fernandez and Raducanu deserve to be here. They've each had impressive runs through the tournament, taking down some of the biggest names in tennis along the way.

Here's everything you need to know heading into Saturday's match.

      

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2021 U.S. Open Women's Singles Final Information

Date: Saturday, Sept. 11

Start Time: 4 p.m. ET

TV: ESPN

        

Preview

While Fernandez and Raducanu have each made it to the U.S. Open final, they've done so in different ways. Fernandez has been pushed to the limit. Raducanu has showcased complete domination. And now, the teenagers must face off against each other.

Fernandez's list of defeated opponents is the more impressive of the two, considering she beat four players who were seeded in the top 16. And while she went a full three sets against each of them, playing a tiebreaker once in each match, she continued to find ways to win.

After winning in straight sets in each of the first two rounds, Fernandez made it known she was here to stay by defeating No. 3 Osaka 5-7, 7-6(6), 6-4 in the third round.

"From the very beginning, right before the match, I knew I was able to win," Fernandez said, per ESPN's D'Arcy Maine.

Fernandez followed that up by beating No. 16 Angelique Kerber 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2 in the fourth round. Things didn't get easier, yet Fernandez kept prevailing. She defeated No. 5 Elina Svitolina 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(5) in the quarterfinals, then No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4 in the semifinals.

While Fernandez can't add a win against another seeded opponent, her next victory would be her biggest yet, considering it would award her a Grand Slam title.

There's one important thing to know about Raducanu's run: She hasn't even lost a set since showing up to New York City. And it's not like she was playing easy opponents, either.

Raducanu had to get past a pair of seeded players in the previous two rounds. In the quarterfinals, she notched a 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 11 Belinda Bencic, who won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this summer. Then, Raducanu defeated No. 17 Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-4 in the semifinals.

"I personally think inside 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," Raducanu said, per Maine. "To be able to do it and play the best players in the world and beat them, I honestly can't believe it."

Either way, the U.S. Open women's singles title will be going to a teenager for only the 10th time. The last time it happened was in 2019, when Bianca Andreescu won the tournament at 19.

This won't be the first time that Fernandez and Raducanu have played each other. In 2018, Raducanu defeated Fernandez in two straight sets in the second round of the junior Wimbledon tournament.

The stakes will be much higher this time the two take the court.  

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