British teenager Emma Raducanu has shared the pride that she feels after coming through the tough moments during her run to the US Open final.
The 18-year-old, who is making her US Open debut, beat world No 18 Maria Sakkari 6-1 6-4 in the semi-finals and is still yet to drop a set at Flushing Meadows.
However, throughout her run to the final, she has certainly been under pressure, facing some of the world’s top players for the first time in her career. In her semi-final against Sakkari, Raducanu held off six break points over the course of her opening two service games.
“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,” she said during her post-match press conference after knocking out Sakkari.
“To be able to do it and play the best players in the world and beat them, I honestly can’t believe it.
“It’s been extremely difficult because they always fight, they have so much experience which they use. I’m just so, so proud to have come through very tough moments in all of my matches”.
Emma Raducanu – Route to the US Open Final
|First round of qualifying||Bibiane Schoofs 6-1 6-2|
|Second round of qualifying||Mariam Bolkvadze 6-3 7-5|
|Third round of qualifying||Mayar Sherif 6-1 6-4|
|First round||Stefanie Voegele 6-2 6-3|
|Second round||Zhang Shuai 6-2 6-4|
|Third round||Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-0 6-1|
|Fourth round||Shelby Rogers 6-2 6-1|
|Quarter-final||Belinda Bencic 6-3 6-4|
|Semi-final||Maria Sakkari 6-1 6-4|
Throughout her three qualifying matches and six main draw matches, the British teenager has shown composure and resilience beyond her years.
Raducanu has also shown a slight vulnerability which adds to her likeability – it is among the reasons why the crowd, and millions around the world, have so embraced her.
Emma and her new friends 💙 pic.twitter.com/ARCTiHTHib
— US Open Tennis (@usopen)
On one of tennis’ greatest stages – the Arthur Ashe Stadium – during her debut US Open, Raducanu has clearly been nervous at the start of matches.
Against Shelby Rogers and Belinda Bencic in the fourth round and quarter-final respectively, she found herself down early on in both matches and yet powered through to victory.
“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.”
Raducanu is the first British woman to play in the singles final at Flushing Meadows since Virginia Wade.
The British 18-year-old will now face fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez in the final. It will be the first all-teenage final since 1999 – incidentally, neither Raducanu nor Fernandez were born then.
It’s been 53 years since the last time a 🇬🇧 woman played in our singles final.
That champion, Virginia Wade, watched Emma Raducanu follow in her footsteps tonight. pic.twitter.com/1Ezvm8ZcA6
— US Open Tennis (@usopen)
“I just want to thank everyone who has supported me in this journey. I think that from a young age the LTA has taken me under its wing, really helped me out from a young age.
“My team back home and my team that are physically here with me, I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Raducanu has developed a real sense of momentum through the rounds in Flushing Meadows and she shared that its foundations were created during the weeks following the Wimbledon Championships on tour with her team and coach Andrew Richardson.
“I think leading up to the US Open, I had a lot of matches coming in,” she said.
“I played a 125 in Chicago, a 100K the week before. I think I was building with each match.”
Here in the US Open I wasn’t really sure how my level was going to be. In a way, my tennis level has surprised me in the way that I’ve managed step up against some of the best players in the world.
Raducanu will now look to step up again and do so against someone else who has progressed into their first Grand Slam final – Fernandez.
Fernandez, who turned 19 on Monday, booked her place in her debut final with a 7-6 (7-3) 4-6 6-4 victory over the world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka.
Throughout the draw, Raducanu has said that the achievements of Fernandez – who has been on the other side of the women’s draw – and Carlos Alcaraz earlier in the men’s draw, have boosted her and spurred her on.
Now with a final contest against Fernandez waiting, what does she think her chances are? “Is there any expectation? I’m a qualifier so technically there’s no pressure on me,” she concluded.
This content was originally published here.