5 min read
Newcomers Leylah Fernandez and Emma Raducanu have blown the opposition away at the 2021 US Open. The two will meet in Saturday’s final, making history regardless of the outcome as the first all-teen final since 1999.
Fernandez was first on Arthur Ashe Stadium for Thursday’s night session and she stunned No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka, 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-4. Sabalenka is the fourth seeded opponent in a row for the 19-year-old Canadian after wins over No. 3 Naomi Osaka, No. 16 Angelique Kerber, and No. 5 Elina Svitolina.
"I think one word that really stuck to me is 'magical' because not only is my run really good but also the way I'm playing right now," Fernandez said. "I'm just having fun, I'm trying to produce something for the crowd to enjoy. I'm glad that whatever I'm doing on court, the fans are loving it and I'm loving it, too. We'll say it's magical."
In six previous Grand Slam appearances, Fernandez had been to the third round just once. Now she’s one win away from becoming the second Canadian to win a Grand Slam following Bianca Andreescu's victory at the 2019 US Open. Earlier in 2019, Fernandez had won the junior Roland Garros title to become the first Canadian female to win a junior major since Eugenie Bouchard in 2012.
Later on Thursday evening, Raducanu dismissed No. 17 seed Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-4 to continue her historic breakthrough. The 18-year-old is the youngest woman to reach a major final since Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon in 2004. She’s looking to become the first British female to win a Slam since Virginia Wade in 1977.
"A surprise. Honestly, I just can't believe it. A shock. Crazy. All of the above,” Raducanu said. "It means a lot to be here in this situation. I wanted obviously to be playing Grand Slams, but I didn't know how soon that would be. To be in a Grand Slam final at this stage of my career, I have no words."
Ranked No. 150 on the WTA Tour, Raducanu had to go through qualifying and has yet to lose a set. She’s the first qualifier to reach the US Open final in the Open era.
Let’s take a closer look at their head-to-head stats with the help of Universal Tennis INSIGHTS.
Leylah Fernandez (UTR Rating 12.71) vs. Emma Raducanu (UTR Rating 12.42)
INSIGHTS gives Fernandez the overall edge with a 67% chance of winning the US Open trophy over Raducanu. Fernandez has more playing experience in the last 15 months and her UTR Rating, three-month Trending UTR Rating, and Hard Court UTR Rating is higher. She’s been playing exclusively on the WTA Tour, even picking up her first title in Monterrey.
While Raducanu has the better win-loss record 38-9 to 36-24, she’s played mostly on the ITF Pro Circuit. Saturday will see her chasing her first tour title—her most recent title was an ITF $25K in December in Pune, India. She made her Grand Slam debut thanks to a wild card into Wimbledon this summer where she stunned the world with a run to the fourth round. The teen backed up that remarkable fortnight with a final appearance at the WTA 125K in Chicago.
Raducanu and Fernandez have never played each other before but have faced off against seven common opponents. Raducanu has the edge in this category, 5-2 versus 3-4. According to INSIGHTS, the Brit has also been the best performer of the 2021 US Open, playing like a UTR Rating 12.97 (+0.55) over her six main-draw matches.
It’s going to be a close call given how well both have been performing in New York. Although neither has the experience of competing for a Grand Slam trophy, pressure and nerves haven’t gotten the best of them yet. History will be decided on Saturday when the women’s final takes place at 4 p.m. EST.
•UTR Ratings and INSIGHTS probabilities as of 9 a.m. EST, Sept. 10, 2021.