Take a bow, Emma Raducanu! Teen beats Leylah Fernandez to win US Open and become first qualifier to win a major

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Sealed with a kiss. Emma Raducanu with the US Open trophy

Emma Raducanu has only gone and done it! The British sensation beat fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez in the 2021 US Open women’s final to win her maiden Grand Slam at the age of just 18.

The enormity of what Raducanu has pulled off at Flushing Meadows is difficult to fathom, but her 6-4, 6-3 victory in one hour and 51 minutes over Fernandez helped her to etch her name in the history books.

First qualifier – man or woman – to win a Grand Slam? Check! First British woman in 53 years to win the US Open? Check! First British woman to win any Grand Slam since Virginia Wade lifted the Wimbledon trophy in 1977? Check! New British No 1? Check!

Playing in only her fourth top-level tournament and second major, Raducanu won 20 consecutive sets to reach the Promised Land.

The victory sees the 18-year-old pick up 2,000 WTA Rankings points that will see her jump from 150 in the world to No 23.

Fernandez, though, can be proud of her performance as the pair slugged it out from the word go with a titanic 10-minute plus second game putting the spectators on the edges of their seats. Fernandez saved five break points before the Briton got the break at the sixth time of asking to go 2-0 up.

But that was just a sign of things to come as the third game was also prolonged and this time it was Fernandez who broke to get back on serve.

The first three games alone took 23 minutes.

Although games were still long, things started to settle down a little with Raducanu stronger on serve while Fernandez managed to dig herself out of trouble countless times when her first serve let her down.

But a poor service game eventually cost the 19-year-old as Raducanu broke in game 10 to win her 19th consecutive set at this year’s US Open – 13 in the main draw and six in the qualifiers.

The second set started in similar fashion to the opening set as Raducanu held serve quite comfortably before Fernandez found herself 0-40 down, but again the Canadian managed to turn things around to draw level.

Suddenly the momentum was with Fernandez as she raced into a 15-40 lead and, although the Briton managed to save two break points, the Canadian got the break.

Raducanu, though, was not behind for too long as she hit back immediately to get back on serve after two brilliant backhand cross-court winners.

After another solid hold, the impetus was firmly with Raducanu as she notched up back-to-back breaks with an emphatic pass to go 4-2 up.

She comfortably held serve to go 5-2 up and tried to finish it on the Fernandez serve as she eked out two match points, but the Canadian didn’t budge.

And so Raducanu came out to serve for the match, but Fernandez still had some fight left in her and produced a couple of winners to get a break point.

Raducanu injured her knee midway through a rally and blood started to drip from her leg, which forced a delay as the physio was called to patch her up.

The Canadian earned herself another break point, but again Raducanu saved it and then on the third match point the 18-year-old served it out with an ace to become the first qualifier to win a Grand Slam having won 20 sets in a row.

Of course, she was rewarded with a shiny trophy and cheque of £1.8million.

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