Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez will face off in an unprecedented final
Fixture: (Q) Emma Raducanu vs Leylah Fernandez
Date: 11 September 2021
Tournament: US Open 2021
Venue: New York, United States
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $40,560,000
Live telecast: USA – Tennis Channel & ESPN | UK – BBC TV & Radio/ Amazon Prime Video | India – Star Sports / Disney+ Hotstar VIP
Emma Raducanu vs Leylah Fernandez preview
Qualifier Emma Raducanu and World No. 73 Leylah Fernandez will face each other on Saturday in a historic US Open final that nobody could have predicted before the tournament began.
This is the first time in the Open Era that a Major final, men’s or women’s, features two unseeded players. That is not it though; there are a few other firsts to take away from the extraordinary US Open we have had this year on the women’s side.
Back in July, even though Emma Raducanu had to retire from her Round of 16 match at Wimbledon, most were convinced that the 18-year-old was going to be a future star. But few would have envisioned Raducanu’s progress would be so rapid that in only a couple of months she would become the first qualifier in the Open Era to reach the final of a Grand Slam.
Perhaps an even more awe-inspiring thing about the Brit’s run to the final is the exceptional manner in which she has dismantled every opponent who has come in her path. She has lost a mere 27 games in the six main draw matches she has played this fortnight.
In fact, her toughest match so far in New York was in the qualifiers, against Mariam Bolkvadze.
On Thursday, Raducanu took 17th seed Maria Sakkari to the cleaners, winning 6-1 6-4. In the quarterfinals, the Brit swept the court with Olympic champion Belinda Bencic.
Leylah Fernandez, just two months older than Emma Raducanu, has had a sharply contrasting path to the final. The 19-year-old has played four consecutive three-set matches, including her semifinal win on Friday over second seed Aryna Sabalenka.
Fernandez has spent a total of 12 hours and 45 minutes on the court so far, which is much more than what the ruthless Raducanu has required. The Brit has taken less than eight hours to coast through her six main-draw matches.
That said, Fernandez has had to deal with a much tougher draw than Raducanu. The Canadian has taken down some big guns on her way to the final, which explains the effort spent in reaching there.
Fernandez has beaten the likes of defending champion Naomi Osaka and 2016 winner Angelique Kerber, as well as second seed Sabalenka and fifth seed Elina Svitolina, in what is easily one of the toughest paths to a Major final ever.
Emma Raducanu vs Leylah Fernandez head-to-head
Leylah Fernandez lost to Emma Raducanu at the Wimbledon juniors in 2018
The upcoming US Open final will be the first time Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez face each other on the senior tour. Their head-to-head, therefore, currently stands at 0-0.
The pair, however, did meet in the quarterfinals of the Wimbledon juniors in 2018, where home favorite Raducanu came out on top in straight sets.
Emma Raducanu vs Leylah Fernandez prediction
Very rarely do you get two young players, exhibiting such contrasting styles, contest the final of a Major so early in their careers. In a way, we will be witnessing the future of tennis creating history on Saturday.
Emma Raducanu loves to impose herself from the baseline with her smooth power, masterful stroke-play and clean hitting. The teenage sensation is so confident in her groundstrokes that she can leave the tour’s biggest veterans envious and in awe.
Emma Raducanu has reached the US Open final before winning a match on the WTA Tour
The more impressive aspect of Raducanu’s game is that for all her power and aggression, she has a model blend of offense and defense. The Brit’s incredible shot tolerance perfectly complements her boldness in attack.
Leylah Fernandez, on the other hand, has left some of the biggest names on tour gasping for breath in the past two weeks. Fernandez has showcased spectacular defense, terrific counterattacking ability and an unswerving never-say-die attitude to make the stage her own this fortnight.
As has become apparent from her run, the Canadian has also abandoned some of the variety she had come to be known for in the early part of her career. Instead, Fernandez has shown a willingness to stay rooted to the baseline and hit through the ball with more power and consistency than before. This tweak in style might well be a major reason for her meteoric strides in New York.
Fatigue could possibly be a factor for Fernandez, as she has put in a lot more hours on court than her opponent. But that could also be an advantage, as Raducanu would find herself in unknown waters if the match goes deep into a deciding set – an area where the Canadian has excelled.
Whatever the result, both Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez have already made jaws drop this US Open. If we have to pick a winner, we predict Fernandez for the historic win based on the quality of opponents she has overcome along the way.
Prediction: Leylah Fernandez to win in three sets.