Emma Raducanu arrived in New York City having played in only one previous Grand Slam event. She's leaving as the 2021 U.S. Open women's singles champion. Not only that, but she also rolled through the tournament without dropping a set.
It was a dominant display by the 18-year-old from Great Britain, who was not expected to win a Grand Slam title this early in her professional tennis career. After all, she had only made her debut at a major tournament earlier this summer when she reached the fourth round at Wimbledon.
Yet Raducanu stormed through the U.S. Open, finishing with a victory against Leylah Fernandez, a fellow unseeded teenager, in Saturday's final. Raducanu won 6-4, 6-3 to become the second teenager in three years to win this event. (Bianca Andreescu was 19 when she won in 2019).
Here's a look back at how the women's singles tournament unfolded over the final four rounds, resulting in that improbable meeting between Raducanu and Fernandez in the final, along with prize money.
U.S. Open Women's Bracket: Round of 16 Through Final
Round of 16
Emma Raducanu def. Shelby Rogers 6-2, 6-1
No. 11 Belinda Bencic def. No. 7 Iga Swiatek 7-6 (12), 6-3
No. 4 Karolina Pliskova def. No. 14 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 7-5, 6-4
No. 17 Maria Sakkari def. No. 6 Bianca Andreescu 6-7 (2), 7-6 (6), 6-3
No. 5 Elina Svitolina def. No. 12 Simona Halep 6-3, 6-3
Leylah Fernandez def. No. 16 Angelique Kerber 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2
No. 8 Barbora Krejcikova def. No. 9 Garbine Muguruza 6-3, 7-6 (4)
No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka def. No. 15 Elise Mertens 6-4, 6-1
Emma Raducanu def. No. 11 Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4
No. 17 Maria Sakkari def. No. 4 Karolina Pliskova 6-4, 6-4
Leylah Fernandez def. No. 5 Elina Svitolina 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5)
No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka def. No. 8 Barbora Krejcikova 6-1, 6-4
Emma Raducanu def. No. 17 Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-4
Leylah Fernandez def. No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4
Emma Raducanu def. Leylah Fernandez 6-4, 6-3
Emma Raducanu (winner): $2.5 million
Leylah Fernandez (runner-up): $1.25 million
No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka (semifinalist): $675,000
No. 17 Maria Sakkari (semifinalist): $675,000
No. 4 Karolina Pliskova (quarterfinalist): $425,000
No. 5 Elina Svitolina (quarterfinalist): $425,000
No. 8 Barbora Krejcikova (quarterfinalist): $425,000
No. 11 Belinda Bencic (quarterfinalist): $425,000
Round-of-16 finishers: $265,000
Round-of-32 finishers: $180,000
Round-of-64 finishers: $115,000
Round-of-128 finishers: $75,000
Women's Final Recap
While Raducanu had practically no Grand Slam experience heading into this year's U.S. Open, her final opponent barely had more. Fernandez had played in only six previous majors and had never made it past the third round.
However, the Canadian proved to be a strong player throughout her tournament run. She knocked out three players who were seeded in the top five (Sabalenka, Osaka and Svitolina), and she continued to find ways to pull out victories in close games, going a full three sets in four straight matches prior to the final.
It seemed like Fernandez was finally going to be the first player to win a set against Raducanu. Yet not even she could halt the Brit's momentum.
Raducanu surprised everybody at the U.S. Open—including herself.
"You say, 'I want to win a Grand Slam.' But to have the belief I did, and actually executing, winning a Grand Slam," Raducanu said, per Howard Fendrich of the Associated Press, "I can't believe it."
How rare is it for somebody to win the U.S. Open women's singles title without dropping a set along the way? It hadn't happened since 2014, when Serena Williams did it, putting Raducanu in some pretty elite company.
Before Andreescu's triumph, the previous woman this young to win a U.S. Open title was Maria Sharapova, who was 19 when she captured the championship in 2006. And there hadn't been a British woman win a major tournament since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977.
Raducanu kept her composure throughout her run. She never even had to play a tiebreaker. None of her opponents won more than four games in a single set. It was complete dominance.
Saturday's final wasn't the first time Raducanu had played against Fernandez. The two met at the 2018 Wimbledon junior tournament, with the Brit coming out on top then too. The 2021 U.S. Open final may not be the final meeting between the pair, either.
"I hope we play each other in many more tournaments and hopefully finals," Raducanu said, per ESPN's Aishwarya Kumar.
Not only is it possible that may happen, but these teenagers could be the future of women's tennis as well. And given the quality on display Saturday, that would be nothing but positive for the sport.