US Open 2021 Final: Teens Emma Raducanu & Lelyah Fernandez light up US Open final as year’s fourth major await new champion

US Open 2021 Final: Teens Emma Raducanu & Lelyah Fernandez light up US Open final as year's fourth major await new champion
US Open 2021 Final: Teens Emma Raducanu & Lelyah Fernandez light up US Open final as year's fourth major await new champion

US Open 2021 Final: Teens Emma Raducanu & Lelyah Fernandez light up US Open final as year’s fourth major await new champion: A US Open that at one point looked a dud has been turned into one of the most compelling in years by two dazzling teenagers who have woken up the city that never sleeps — and the sport itself.

Coming out of a pandemic and with long-time headliners Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams all missing due to injury the only intrigue had seemed to be Novak Djokovic’s quest for a 21st major that would complete the calendar-year Slam.

Normally the hottest sporting ticket in town, the tournament began with a bit of an off-Broadway vibe.

But Arthur Ashe Stadium court will once again be the place to be on Saturday with fans clamouring to see 18-year-old Briton Emma Raducanu and 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez in the women’s final.

US Open 2021 Final: Teens Emma Raducanu & Lelyah Fernandez light up US Open final as year’s fourth major await new champion

Such is the fascination with the pair that they threaten to steal the spotlight from history-hunting Djokovic, who is just two wins away from becoming only the third man to claim a calendar-year Grand Slam.

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“I think we’re all just super hungry to make a difference in the tennis world,” said Fernandez, who celebrated her 19th birthday on Monday. “We’ve always talked about and joked around that we’re going to be in the WTA Tour we’re going to be on the big stage together.

“We want to make a difference. We want to make an impact in tennis.” And indeed they have.

“THIEF OF HAPPINESS”

Raducanu, who advanced to the fourth round of Wimbledon in July, has yet to drop a set in New York becoming the first qualifier to reach the last four at Flushing Meadows after outplaying Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Belinda Bencic. Fernandez stormed into the last four with a string of stunning upsets including that of four-times Grand Slam winner and champion Naomi Osaka, three-times Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber and fifth seed Elina Svitolina.

The play of the youngsters over the US Open fortnight has been exhilarating.

While there is no shortage of teen players wandering the sprawling facility competing in everything from the main draw to juniors, the energy Raducanu and Fernandez have brought to the event has been intoxicating.

They have competed with a fearless joy providing a refreshing break from heavier topics including players’ mental health, which had dominated the conversation the first week as Naomi Osaka wrestled with demons that have prompted her to again take a break from the sport.

The carefree play of Raducanu and Fernandez has stood in stark contrast.

On court Raducanu competes with a Federeresque elegance while Fernandez is the Canadian firecracker bringing Nadal-like intensity to her matches.

Off the court both are thoughtful and well-spoken, stressing fun and self-belief as their keys to success.

US Open 2021 Final: Teens Emma Raducanu & Lelyah Fernandez light up US Open final as year’s fourth major await new champion

“I’m just really enjoying the experience,” said Raducanu. “I think to compare yourself and your results against anyone is probably like the thief of happiness, and everyone is doing their own thing.

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