Making the case for Fernandez and Raducanu in the US Open final

Who saw this coming? There is always in the majors, a string of upside down and Cinderella run capture some of the story. But two naked teenagers, 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez and 18-year-old Emma Raducanu, play the US Open final?

A surprise,” Raducanu said after the overwhelming semi-final victory. Well, to be honest, I couldn’t believe it. A shock. Cazy. All of the above. “

It’s almost a synthesis.

Raducanu has dominated for the past two weeks. She failed to miss a set, but… she still hasn’t played against anyone in the Top 10.

Fernandez has had her full hand since the beginning of the Open. Her past four matches have all been in three sets, but that includes wins over No 3 Naomi Osaka, three-time Grand Slam winner Angelique Kerber, No 5 Elina Svitolina and No 2 Aryna Sabalenka.

Not a bad series of disturbances. Which brings us to the most pressing question: Who has the edge in the first major final, men’s or women’s, against players with no experience since the Open Era began in 1968.

Alex Macpherson and Greg Garber make their case for both players.

Advantage, Fernandez

Entering this US Open 2021 season, Leylah Fernandez has won more games than he has lost.

And now Canadian – three days after she turned 20NS five – beat three of the top five WTA players. Yes, confusingly Fernandez defeated No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka, No. 3 Naomi Osaka and No. 5 Elina Svitolina – not to mention 3-time champion Angelique Kerber.

“I have never seen anything like this on [Arthur] Ashe [Stadium] – used to be,” 18-time Grand Slam singles champion Chris Evert said on the ESPN TV show. “She’s too good to be true.”

The most recent shocker – at this point, are they still upside down? – is work 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 Thursday on Sabalenka. Fernandez wasn’t naturally ready throughout and found himself in Saturday’s grand final [4 p.m. ET] opposite Emma Raducanu, 18 years old.

Fernandez told reporters afterward: “I think I’ve done some amazing things. “Like I think the one word that really sticks with me is “magic” because not only is my running really good but also the way I’m playing right now. I’m just having fun. “

It was the first junior Grand Slam final since 1999, when 17-year-old Serena Williams beat 18-year-old Martina Hingis – and the eighth final. Hours after Fernandez became the youngest player to reach the final in 17 years, Raducanu took her place.

These two have never played, but…

After all we’ve seen these two weeks, why will not Fernandez takes home the US Open title? Fernandez lost 1-4 to Sabalenka in the first set and 0-2 in the first set tiebreak but was undeterred. Her composure, decision making, and execution of this scene in this incredibly tense atmosphere is perfect.

Osaka has won the grand slam four times. Svitolina won 16 titles and $20 million in prize money. Sabalenka is the WTA’s top winner, with 43 wins this season and is the only semi-finalist to have won the title (Abu Dhabi, Madrid). Where did all this come from?

“A lot of people doubted me, my family and my dreams,” Fernandez said. “They kept saying no, that I wasn’t going to be a professional tennis player, that I should stop and just pursue school. I remember a teacher, she told me to stop playing tennis, you will never pass, and just focus on school.

“You know, I was so happy when she told me that because every day I had that phrase in my head and said I was going to move on, I was going to get through, and I was going to prove it all to her. everything that I dream of I will achieve them. – Greg Garber

Advantage, Raducanu

Two unannounced teenagers, two contrasting runs to the US Open final that were equally thrilling and absurd. If Leylah Fernandez certainly had a tougher route, taking out a bunch of big names and heavyweights in close encounters, Emma Raducanu’s route is characterized by the brutal effect.

She has lost 43 games in nine games in the past three weeks. Only one player has even played 5 matches in a set – Mariam Bolkvadze, in the second round of qualifying. Raducanu dropped an average of 4.8 games per game – amazingly, a number that dropped as the tournament progressed. Only the main draw results fall into 4.5 matches per game.

Their outstanding points alone were impressive enough, but seeing them beaten by an inexperienced Raducanu player was surreal. The 18-year-old world No. 1 is playing her 26th professional tournament and only her seventh tournament after a 16-month hiatus from February 2020 to June 2021. The US Open is only the fourth event of the year. She is on tour level. Thirteen weeks ago, she was 3.66th. She had never faced a top 40 player before meeting Belinda Bencic in the quarterfinals. Two rounds later, she became the first qualifying person to reach a Grand Slam final in the Open Era.

What the hell is going on here? Great court feel, tactical intelligence and scoreboard management. Raducanu can keep his opponent off balance through mixing and disguising multiple attack paths. And while her matches are closer than the numbered line suggests, Raducanu has a knack for winning big scores. In the last three rounds, she has saved 19 out of 21 break points against Shelby Rogers, Bencic and Maria Sakkari.

All of this means that Raducanu has an important advantage over Fernandez. Despite playing three more games than the Canadian, she spent an hour less on the field. Their shared history also favors Raducanu. Both born in 2002, the pair have competed in the same tournament since their Under-12s – but Raducanu won the only match 6-2, 6-4 in the round. two of the 2018 Wimbledon children’s competition.

And perhaps most importantly, the Briton gives every indication of enjoying the grotesque, inevitable nature of her New York adventures. Minutes after winning the semi-final against Sakkari, she was asked by Rennae Stubbs during the on-court interview about dealing with expectations. Without missing a beat and seeming amused by the idea, Raducanu replied, “Are there expectations? I mean, technically, I’m a qualified person, so there’s no pressure whatsoever. to me.” – Alex Macpherson


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