The American crowd has made up its mind on the two teenage stars in the US Open final, but they are both blowing minds in an extraordinary final.
The historic US Open final has started in bonkers fashion with a first set that had everything.
In a match featuring an exciting new generation of women’s tennis, teenagers Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez are facing each other in the most unlikely of US Open finals on Sunday morning.
In a rollercoaster opening set which lasted 58 minutes, Raducanu eventually secured the decisive break in the 10th service game on her fourth set point opportunity.
The 6-4 result means Raducanu has now won 19 straight sets at the tournament.
However the match took another dramatic twist in the second set with Fernandez fending off a break point before breaking Raducanu’s serve in the next service game to lead 2-1. In a sign of how crazy the match has been, Raducanu broke back immediately and led 3-2.
The match began just as dramatically as their runs to the final had been with both players breaking their opponent’s serve in marathon early service games.
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The British 18-year-old — the first qualifier ever to reach a Grand Slam final — broke Fernandez’s serve on the sixth break point, before the Canadian responded by breaking in the next service game with her fourth break point opportunity.
The first three service games went for 23 minutes.
From there, the quality of the match and the searing winners bouncing off their racquets left tennis commentators stunned.
Veteran tennis journalist Crag Gabriel described the contest as “mesmerising”.
Tennis correspondent Tumaini Carayol posted on Twitter he was “laughing at the quality of the match”.
When Raducanu emerged with the first set, she was pumped up and roared towards the crowd, which had been cheering for Fernandez from the start of the match.
Raducanu is hoping to become the first British woman to win a Grand Slam title since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977.
The crowd picked a side early in the first set, with chants of “Let’s go Leylah” ringing loudly around Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Raducanu has not dropped a single set on her to way to the final at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Fernandez, 19, has beaten defending champion Naomi Osaka, second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka and fifth seed Elina Svitolina on her passage to the final.
“It will be a tough match for sure. She’s playing great tennis,” Raducanu said. “But I think I’m also playing very good tennis. I’m excited to go out there.”
It is the first time teenagers have met in a Grand Slam final since 17-year-old Serena Williams beat Martina Hingis, 18, at the 1999 US Open.
One will walk off with her first Grand Slam trophy on the same court where Williams, a 23-time Slam winner about to turn 40, took her first 22 years ago.
“There’s no limit to my potential, to what I can do,” Fernandez said. “Every day we just got to keep working hard, we got to keep going for it. Nothing’s impossible. I’m just glad right now everything’s going well.”
If she triumphs, 150th-ranked Raducanu would become the first British woman to win the US Open since Wade in 1968. She is the youngest Slam finalist since 17-year-old Maria Sharapova won at Wimbledon in 2004.
“I wasn’t really sure how my game was going to be,” Raducanu said. “My tennis level has surprised me in the way I’ve managed to step up against some of the best players in the world.
“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 two. To be able to play the best players in the world and beat them, I honestly can’t believe it.”
Fernandez said: “I believed in my game, but it also has helped me open my eyes that I can win against these top players.
“I’m just glad to have this experience and see where my tennis level is at.”
The pair first played each other in under-12 events.
“Since then we’ve both come very far in our games and as people,” Raducanu said. “I’m sure it’s going to be extremely different to when we last encountered each other. But we’re both playing good tennis so it’ll be a good match.”
Raducanu and Fernandez have found success at an early stage of their careers, but Sabalenka warned after Fernandez beat her that there is a tough road ahead, as the mental health struggles that have beset Osaka have shown.
“The question is when you will start to understand what’s going on and where you are, how good can you deal with all these expectations and this level, all this pressure,” Sabalenka said.