Romanian tennis player, Emma Raducanu has said that reaching the final of the US Open is “crazy, cool and absolutely mind-blowing”.
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Emma Raducanu, a British adolescent, describes her maiden Grand Slam final appearance at the US Open as “amazing, fantastic, and simply mind-blowing.”
The 18-year-old defeated Maria Sakkari, the 17th seed from Greece, 6-1, 6-4 in the final to become the first qualifier to reach a major final.
In New York on Saturday, she will compete for the championship against Canadian world number 73 Leylah Fernandez, 19.
“I never expected to be in a Grand Slam final this early,” Raducanu told Radio 5 Live.
“I’m having a great time in New York, and it shows in my tennis. I was simply living in the moment tonight, being under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium, which is so legendary.”
Many admirers said on social media that they had set their alarms for the middle-of-the-night match and may be a little weary or late for work because of her fantasy run in New York. Pundits have heaped praise on her, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson among those congratulating her on her “great victory.”
On Monday, Raducanu, who is presently rated 150th in the world, will become Britain’s number one. She is expected to climb to number 32 in the standings after her recent victory.
Raducanu is the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam final since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977, and her win against world number 18 Sakkari on Thursday was by far the most important of her career.
“I had no clue this record existed,” Raducanu said. “Obviously, being the first in the final for such a long time means a lot.
“Crazy and cool at the same time. For me, being in New York for three weeks is simply incredible.”
Her final versus Fernandez, who stunned Belarusian second seed Aryna Sabalenka on Thursday, will be the first all-teen final at the US Open since Serena Williams and Martina Hingis in 1999.
Raducanu and Fernandez have met in junior competition previously, with the Romanian meeting paths at the renowned junior Orange Bowl event and the Briton winning in straight sets in the 2018 Wimbledon girls tournament.
“We have a lengthy history,” Raducanu said. “In the Under-12 Orange Bowl, I recall conversing with her. At junior Wimbledon, we played each other. Since we last played each other, we’ve both come a long way. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of match-up it will be.”
Is Raducanu’s success due to his youth?
Raducanu is just the fourth British woman to reach a major final in the Open Era, but an even more impressive feature of her journey to the final is that she has yet to drop a single set in nine matches at the 2021 US Open, including six main-draw ties in her first trip to the US Open.
Despite facing Sakkari, Olympic champion Belinda Bencic, and three other top-50 players, Raducanu has only surrendered 27 games in her 18 sets of tennis at New York, despite just playing her maiden WTA tournament in June.
“I believe there’s an aspect of you playing totally free because you’re young,” Raducanu remarked.
“However, I’m certain that when I get older and get more experience, the same will happen to me.” I believe the tables will be turned. Some of the younger guys will make an impact.
“Right now, all I can think about is the game plan and how to execute it.” That is what has brought me to this point. It hasn’t been about who is likely to win this or that match. I believe it is just a matter of getting through the day. That’s exactly what I’m doing right now.
“There is no pressure on me to win. Any strain you put on yourself is self-inflicted. I have goals for myself and how I want to perform, but there is no pressure to achieve them.”
‘Staggering’ and ‘astonishing,’ say experts.
Raducanu’s semi-final performance was hailed by former British number one Tim Henman as “just amazing” and “absolutely astonishing.”
“She was very resilient,” Henman remarked on Amazon Prime. She didn’t even flinch once. She didn’t stop. It was never-ending. Then there’s the situation of being a qualifier, an 18-year-old, competing against all of the great who have ever played this game at the Grand Slam level.
“She is completely deserving of every praise. She plays on her own terms on the greatest platform in our sport at every chance. It’s awe-inspiring to see.”
Raducanu’s performance, which he thinks “was worthy of a world number one, a US Open winner, a double Grand Slam champion,” left former US Open finalist Greg Rusedski “dumbfounded.”
“The calmness, the faith, and the handling of the major issues. It felt as if she were playing in the first round in her maiden Grand Slam semi-final. It was incredible “Rusedski continued.
Judy Murray praised Raducanu’s triumph on Twitter, calling it a “amazing accomplishment,” while Laura Robson, another British player, called it “unbelievable,” and Prime Minister Johnson added, “The entire nation will be supporting you on in the final.”