Maria Sakkari and Aryna Sabalenka highlight ‘fearless’ Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez’s key qualities
They have both been on the receiving ends of defeats at the hands of tennis’ two rising stars so Maria Sakkari and Aryna Sabalenka know what makes Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez special.
The US Open will have an all-teenage final after 18-year-old Raducanu beat 17th seed Sakkari 6-1, 6-4 in the semi-final while 19-year-old Fernandez upset second seed Sabalenka 7-6 (7-3), 4-6, 6-4.
It will be the first time since 1999 that two teenagers play in a Grand Slam final and the duo have naturally been grabbing on the headlines.
Raducanu, who came through qualifying to play in the main draw at Flushing Meadows for the first time, has not dropped a set so far.
“It’s huge what she has accomplished. They are both young. They play fearless. They have nothing to lose playing against us,” Sakkari said.
“But as I said I have to give credit to both of them, both of the young girls, that they take their chances. They’re out there fighting for that title. Very well done to both for getting here.”
The first qualifier EVER to reach a Grand Slam final.
Sensational. Historic. Unforgettable.
— wta (@WTA) September 10, 2021
As for what makes Raducanu, who is playing in only her fourth top-level tournament, so difficult to beat, the Greek believes she just does everything right.
“I’ve played with players, for example, Kvitova. The ball comes extremely fast. Not like it’s a ball that comes very fast and you have no time to react,” she said.
“But as I said earlier, she plays fearless. She absolutely goes for it. She does the right thing actually. She goes for it. She has nothing to lose. She’s enjoying herself.”
O’ CANADA 🇨🇦
— wta (@WTA) September 10, 2021
Sabalenka, meanwhile, highlighted Canadian Fernandez’s aggression and baseline tactics.
“Seems like in these two weeks, everything working well for her. Like this is nothing to lose. People are here supporting her like she’s kind of on the top of the situation,” she said. “She’s staying, like, on the baseline, hitting I would say sometimes crazy shots and everything is going in. I would say, like, everything is going her way, yeah.
“But she’s really aggressive and she’s staying on the baseline, hitting the ball, taking the ball pretty early, making you move so you would be always out of the position. I couldn’t make her move as I wanted, yeah.”
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