British teenage tennis sensation Emma Raducanu made history today by ruthlessly winning her US Open semi-final in straight sets, securing a place in her first major final and a cheque for a minimum of $1.25million (£900,000).
The 18-year-old from Kent is the first ever qualifier into a Grand Slam final after another performance of extraordinary poise saw her defeat seventeenth seed Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-4 in just 84 minutes.
Just a month after getting As and A*s in her A-levels from her grammar school in Orpington, Miss Raducanu will be one half of the first all-teenage championship match at a Major in 22 years when she meets world No 73 Leylah Fernandez, the 19 year-old Canadian.
Already the player who began Wimbledon ranked No 338 has earned a minimum $1.25million (£900,000) from the nine matches won here, and now comes the chance to bank a place in sporting history. Staggeringly, she has yet to drop a set.
She is the first British woman to reach the US Open final since Virginia Wade in 1968, and the youngest Slam finalist since Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004.
Two months after bursting onto the scene at Wimbledon ranked 361st in the world and 13 days after entering qualifying in New York, the 18-year-old from Bromley stands on the brink of one of the most remarkable sporting achievements of all time.
Raducanu said on court after her victory: ‘Honestly the time here in New York has gone so fast. I’ve just been taking care of each day and three weeks later I’m in final. I can’t actually believe it.
‘Today I wasn’t thinking about anyone else except for myself. While I have the moment I want to thank my team and the LTA and everyone at home for all their support.
‘Since I’ve been here from the first round of the quallies I’ve had unbelievable support.’ As for her chances in the final? ‘Is there any expectation? I’m a qualifier so technically there’s no pressure on me,’ she added.
Emma Raducanu was left in a state of disbelief and ecstasy after she produced a stunning performance to reach the US Open final
The new British No 1, when rankings update on Monday, dictated the entire match and needed just 84 minutes to claim victory
Emma got her A-level results a month ago, now she is in a US Open final – the first British female since 1968
The 18-year-old wore a huge smile at the end as she now turns her attentions to Saturday’s final against Leylah Fernandez
Emma drops her racket after defeating Maria Sakkari, of Greece, during the semifinals of the US Open tennis championships
Miss Raducanu thanked the crowd for their support all the way through qualifying to the final of a grand slam
She posed for pictures as she left the Arthur Ashe stadium after one of the greatest wins for a female British tennis player in recent history
Emma is already a Vogue star (pictured), and will be picking up a cheque for a minimum of $1.25million dollars
EMMA RADUCANU’S RUN TO THE US OPEN FINAL
Q1: 6-1, 6-2 – beats Bibiane Schoofs – QUALIFYING
Q2: 6-3, 7-5 – beats Mariam Bolkvadze – QUALIFYING
Q3: 6-1, 6-4 – beats Mayar Sherif – QUALIFYING
R1: 6-2, 6-3 – beats Stefanie Vogele
R2: 6-2, 6-4 – beats Zhang Shuai
R3: 6-0, 6-1 – beats Sara Sorribes Tormo
R4: 6-2, 6-1 – beats Shelby Rogers
QF: 6-3, 6-4 – beats Belinda Bencic
SF: 6-1, 6-4 – beats Maria Sakkari
Wade was in the Arthur Ashe Stadium to watch and so was Monica Seles.
Raducanu’s record at her first two Majors is now superior to both Seles and Jennifer Capriati.
Sakkari is a muscular athlete who has had a formidable season and made the semi-final of the French Open.
Yet her game was reduced to rubble by the piercing returns of serve coming back at her and the relentless pressure applied to her weaker forehand side.
In truth the final scoreline was, if anything, generous to the more experienced player, and it could have been over even quicker.
‘Honestly the time here has gone so fast, I’ve been taking care of each day and three weeks later I’m in the final, I can’t believe it,’ said Raducanu.
‘You can’t get ahead of yourself and just stay present.
‘Today I wasn’t thinking about anyone else except for myself.
‘Since I’ve been here I’ve had great support.
‘Playing under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium is one of the most iconic things in tennis. I was so excited.
‘Is there any expectation?’ she asked jokingly. ‘ I’m a qualifier so there’s no pressure on me!’
She now meets the wonderfully talented lefthanded ballstriker from Quebec, who took it to second seeded Aryna Sabalenka to win 7-6, 4-6, 6-4.
It was desperately tight, and she was very much assisted at the end when her opponent hit two straight double faults in the final game.
Incredibly she has not lost a set en route to the final and has dropped just 27 games in her six matches
Two service holds and a delicious volley on match point later and Raducanu had completed the latest stride in her improbable march towards sporting immortality
She is the first British woman to reach the US Open final since Virginia Wade in 1968. She was there to cheer Emma on last night
Sakkari has endured a nightmare run to the semi-final and it looked to catch up with her as she was blown away by Raducanu
Raducanu has improved with every round and is still to drop a set in this tournament as her magical run reaches the final
Playing at night was itself an unusual experience for Raducanu, as most of the tournaments she has played would not have such things as night sessions.
By the time she walked on court it was 10.17pm, proceedings delayed by a presentation to the pioneers of women’s tennis.
Raducanu came on with an assured smile, but soon the break points were coming thick and fast at both ends. The British player needed to save three in her first game, and then broke for 2-0 when her opponent followed up a double fault with a netted backhand.
Sakkari forced four more break points in the next game but a feature of the Kent teenager these past two weeks has been her resolute serving when under pressure. She eked her way out of it and at the end of the game saw the Greek leave the court to change her skirt in double quick time.
The 17th seed got on the scoreboard at 0-5 but it was too late to salvage the opener, in which Raducanu won a telling three out of four points on her second serve.
The Sakkari forehand was repeatedly erring early in the second set which saw the younger player again perplexing a supposedly more fancied opponent.
Having gone ahead for 2-1 Raducanu had two more break points for 4-1 but met some resistance as the Greek, with her low ball toss, suddenly rediscovered some serving momentum.
Still it was a struggle to hold against someone destined to become one of the sport’s great returners, but she got to 5-4 and asked Raducanu to try and serve it out with new balls.
After dropping the first point she reeled off the next four, the last being a simple volley after she had yet again driven her opponent into the backhand corner. Flushing Meadows has rarely seen anything like it.
Judy Murray and Laura Robson lead social media tributes to ‘Teen Queen’ Emma Raducanu as she reaches the US Open final – as GB FedCup captain Anne Keothavong is left ‘shouting at the TV like a mad woman’ during win
Emma Raducanu has been nicknamed the ‘Teen Queen’ by Judy Murray after an epic display sent her into Saturday’s US Open final.
Raducanu is still to drop a set in the tournament and she has become the first qualifier in men’s or women’s history to reach the final of a Grand Slam.
Leading the praise on social media, Murray tweeted: ‘Teen Queen. Incredible achievement.’
Anne Keothavong, Team GB’s FedCup captain, was left ‘shouting at the TV like a mad woman’ as Raducanu dismantled world No 18 Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-4 in less than 90 minutes.
Judy Murray, Anne Keothavong and Laura Robson led the social media praise for Emma Raducanu after victory on Friday morning saw her book her place in the final of the US Open
Raducanu, 18, has continued her fairytale run in New York after demolishing Maria Sakkari
Laura Robson, who knows exactly what it is like to be a teenage star in British tennis, described Raducanu’s achievements to date in New York as ‘unbelievable’.
Robson tweeted: ‘Unbelievable – you absolute star’.
Jo Durie, a two-time British Grand Slam champion, was watching on in awe of the youngster’s composure while the hysteria of the moment seemed to swallow up her opponent.
Durie wrote: ‘Wow wow wow wow wow absolutely fantastic Emma Raducanu.
‘Tremendous under pressure, cool as you like. What a player.’
Two-time Grand Slam champion Jo Durie was blown away by Raducanu’s mature display
Tennis icon Kim Clijsters described the Kent teenager’s showing as an ‘amazing performance’
The British teenager, 18 produced one of the greatest displays in recent decades from a British player at a Grand Slam as she bullied Sakkari in a 6-1, 6-4 win to tee up a final on Saturday against fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez.
Raducanu began Wimbledon ranked No 338 but now looks almost unrecognisable.
Already she has earned a minimum $1.25million (£900,000) from the nine matches won here, and now comes the chance to bank a place in sporting history. Staggeringly, she has yet to drop a set.
British doubles player Neal Skupski made sure he was tuned in for Raducanu’s biggest match of her career to date and he simply wrote: ‘Amazing again’.
British doubles specialist Neal Skupski made sure he stayed up to monitor Raducanu’s match
Former British No 1 Greg Rusedski was in the Amazon Prime studio to dissect Raducanu’s performance but it was Twitter where he waxed lyrical on the Brit’s performance.
Rusedski, who tipped Sakkari before the match, wrote: ‘Didn’t see this coming with Emma Raducanu.
‘Thought this was going to be a tight and tough match.
‘This looks like the performance of someone who is going to be a world No 1 and multiple grand slam champion. Wow!’