Teens save US Open, maybe sport | Tennis News


NEW YORK: A US Open that at one point looked failed was turned into one of the most fascinating in years by two dazzling teenagers who awakened the city that never sleeps – and the sport itself.
Coming out of a pandemic and with longtime headliners Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams all missing due to injury, the only intrigue seemed to be Novak Djokovic’s quest for a 21st major who would complete the Slam for the calendar year.
Normally the city’s most popular sporting ticket, the tournament started off with a bit of an off-Broadway vibe.
But the Arthur Ashe stadium court will once again be the place to be on Saturday with fans clamoring to see 18-year-old Briton Emma Raducanu and 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez in the women’s final.
Such is the fascination with the pair that they threaten to steal the show from story-hunter Djokovic, who is just two wins away from becoming the third man to win a Grand Slam in a calendar year.
“I think we all really want to make a difference in the tennis world,” said Fernandez, who celebrated his 19th birthday on Monday. “We always talked and joked that we were going to be on the WTA Tour, we were 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 did.
Raducanu, who qualified for the fourth round at Wimbledon in July, has yet to lose a set in New York, becoming the first qualifier to reach the bottom four at Flushing Meadows after beating the gold medalist at the Tokyo Olympics Belinda Bencic. Fernandez burst into the last four with a series of astonishing upsets, including that of four-time Grand Slam winner and champion Naomi Osaka, three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber and fifth seed Elina Svitolina.
The youth game during the US Open fortnight was exhilarating.
While there is no shortage of teenage players roaming the sprawling facilities competing in everything from the main draw to the juniors, the energy that Raducanu and Fernandez brought to the event has been intoxicating.
They competed with fearless glee as they offered a refreshing break from heavier topics including player sanity, which had dominated the conversation in week one as Naomi Osaka battled demons that prompted her to do it again. a break from sports.
The carefree play of Raducanu and Fernandez contrasted sharply.
On the court, Raducanu rivals Federeresque elegance while Fernandez is the Canadian firecracker bringing Nadal-like intensity to his matches.
Off the pitch, both are thoughtful and articulate themselves, emphasizing that fun and self-confidence are the keys to success.
“I really enjoy the experience,” Raducanu said. “I think you comparing and comparing your results to anyone’s is probably like the Happiness Thief, and each one does their own thing.
“I’m here, and it just shows that if you believe in yourself, then anything is possible.”

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