With absolute belief in themselves and absolutely nothing to lose, a pair of teenagers stormed into the finals of the U.S. Open in back-to-back semifinal upsets .
Few sports fans had heard of Canada’s Leylah Fernandez, 19, or Britain’s Emma Raducanu, 18, when the season’s final major got underway Aug. 30 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
It was Fernandez’s fourth consecutive upset of a seeded player in a three-set battle and by far her most impressive.
Leylah, who turned 19 on Monday, has also been on a roll at the Flushing Meadows, beating reigning champion Naomi Osaka, 2016 winner Angelique Kerber and fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina to storm into the final.
In the match that followed, Raducanu, who just this summer finished her high school A level exams in Britain, made history in becoming the first qualifier to reach a Grand Slam final in the sport’s Open era with her 6-1, 6-4 victory over 17th seed Maria Sakkari of Greece.
Moreover, Raducanu has yet to concede a set — not in the six matches to reach Saturday’s final or in the three qualifying matches she had to win to earn a spot in the 128-player field, given that her 150th world ranking fell short of the cut-off.
Emma Raducanu is the first qualifier ever to reach the final of a Grand Slam.
The teen sensations stunned some of the top contenders on the way to their maiden Grand Slam final, which is also the first Major final in the Open Era featuring two unseeded players.
The last time two teenagers played a Grand Slam final was in 1999 when Serena Williams, 17, defeated 18-year-old Martina Hingis to lift the US Open title.