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18-Year-Old Brit Emma Raducanu Becomes 1st Qualifer Ever To Reach U.S. Open Semifinals

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at September 8, 2021

The teenagers keep winning at the U.S. Open.

One day after Leylah Annie Fernandez, who turned 19 on Monday, stormed into the semifinals, 18-year-old Emma Raducanu followed her into the final four.

Raducanu became the first qualifier — man or woman — to reach the semifinals with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Olympic gold medalist Belinda Bencic. She has now won eight straight matches without dropping a set — including three in qualifying — and will face either No. 4 Karolina Pliskova or No. 17 Maria Sakkari in Thursday’s semifinals. Fernandez faces No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka in the other semifinal Thursday night.

The semifinalists will earn $675,000, the runner-up $1,250,000 and the winner $2.5 million.

“Of course, playing Belinda, she’s such a great opponent and she’s in unbelievable form and her ball speed definitely caught me off guard,” Raducanu, born in Toronto to a Romanian father and a Chinese mother, told ESPN’s Rennae Stubbs on court. “She hits the ball so hard so I had to try and adjust and adapt and it was a really tough match for me.

“I’m just so, so happy to have come through and thank you so much for all of your support today.”

After falling behind 1-3, Raducanu began to dominate from the baseline and earned a break back as Bencic became unnerved. The Brit won five straight games to take the first set. She finished with six aces and 23 winners against 12 unforced errors.

She then earned another break in the second set to become the first British woman since Jo Durie in 1983 to reach the semifinals and the fifth woman to make the semifinals in her debut.

“I’m just trying to focus on what I can control, my serve, landing first serves and Belinda is an incredibly tough opponent so she was going to fight all the way until the end,” Raducanu said. “I’m just really pleased to have come through.”

She said she took some inspiration from Fernandez, one of two Canadians in the semifinals along with Felix Auger-Aliassime.

“To have so many young players that are doing so well just show how strong the next generation is, and Leyla is doing incredibly well,” she said. “She’s really nice, she was passing out cupcakes for her 19th birthday [Tuesday].

“Everyone’s on their own trajectory so I’m just here taking care of what I can control and it’s my own journey at the end of the day.”

With one more win apiece, Raducanu and Fernandez would meet in an all-teenage final on Saturday. For reference, Serena Williams and Roger Federer are both older than Raducanu and Fernandez combined.

Chrissie Evert, who reached the semifinals at 16 in 1971 before winning the Open six times, said it’s great for women’s tennis to have young stars like Fernandez and Raducanu coming up.

“She’s got such great fundamentals and such great technique that very little can go wrong with her game,” Evert said on air of Raducanu. “What I like about her is she’s so unfazed by all the commotion and all the excitement surrounding her and her success and her coming out party.

“It’s a wonderful journey for her right now.”

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