Teenager Emma Raducanu left in disbelief by historic passage to US Open final

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Teenager Emma Raducanu left in disbelief by historic passage to US Open final
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Emma Raducanu was left briefly speechless as she took in the magnitude of reaching her first Grand Slam final in only her second attempt.

Her previous biggest title had been winning a £15,000 ITF event in Pune two years ago, the prize on offer in Saturday’s final a staggering £1.8million.

She has warranted all manner of accolades in her run in New York: the first qualifier in history to reach a Grand Slam final, the first British female major finalist in 44 years and the new British No1 in only her second Grand Slam.

And the 18-year-old said: “I just can’t believe it — a shock, crazy, all of the above. It means a lot to be here in this situation. I wanted obviously to be playing Grand Slams, but I didn’t know how soon that would be. To be in a Grand Slam final at this stage of my career, yeah, I have no words.

“It means everything to me to be here in the main draw first of all, then in the final of the Grand Slam, the US Open. I always had dreams of playing in Grand Slams, but I just didn’t know when they would come. To come this early, at this point in my career, I’ve only really been on tour for a month, two months since Wimbledon. It’s pretty crazy to me.”

Following her victory, and after the enthralled crowd had left, Raducanu posted a picture on Instagram of her beaming in an empty Arthur Ashe Stadium with the message: “Pure happiness under the lights in New York.”

Raducanu has played with a refreshing freedom with her game, not holding back from the big shots through three rounds of qualifying and again in the six rounds of the main draw to date.

She said her age and inexperience had enabled her to play with such alacrity, saving her best tennis to date – in her mind – for her 6-1 6-4 semi-final win over Maria Sakkari, who had knocked out a series of Grand Slam champions on her way to the last four.

Her cause has also been helped by shutting off attention from back home to a certain extent and remaining in her small bubble in New York.

It is a run that has taken both her, her team and the wider public by surprise, although she insisted she always believed she had it within here.

She said: “Here in the US Open I wasn’t really sure how my level was going to be. In a way, my tennis level has surprised me in the way that I’ve managed step up against some of the best players in the world.

“I personally think inside I knew I had some sort of level inside of me that was similar to these girls, but I didn’t know if I was able to maintain it over a set or over two sets. To be able to do it and play the best players in the world and beat them, I honestly can’t believe it.”

She will meet another teenager and first-time Grand Slam finalist on Saturday in 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez. The pair have come through the junior ranks together, first playing at under-12s level and most recently at junior Wimbledon in 2018.

Of her prediction, Raducanu said simply: “We’re both playing good tennis so it will be a good match.”

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