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Canadian Fernandez loses US Open final to British qualifier Raducanu


NEW YORK – A remarkable run to the final of the US Open ended in disappointment – and some controversy – for Canada’s Leylah Fernandez on Saturday.

She dropped a 6-4, 6-3 decision over British qualifier Emma Raducanu, who won the women’s championship at Flushing Meadows without losing a single set throughout the tournament.

It was the first appearance in the Grand Slam final for both players.

Fernandez appeared to struggle with his serve throughout the afternoon, only managing to land 56% of his first serves and commit five double faults, often at the most critical times.

But as she did throughout the tournament, just as she was starting to look like she was weakening, an acrobatic backhand or fiery forehand would find a corner of the pitch just outside of reach. by Raducanu.

More than once, she has taken what seemed like a definite victory for Raducanu and gradually narrowed it down to two, often ending exhaustive rallies with a delicate little backhand slice that pulled her opponent into the net and out of the net. position.

She did it again at one of the game’s most critical moments: with Raducanu leading 5-2 in the second set and balancing on the championship point, Fernandez fought back to win the game to the delight of ‘a grateful crowd.

Other times, a dreaded cross forehand out of nowhere would send Raducanu diving in vain, a wry smile crossing Fernandez’s face.

But the cool-headed Briton had more than a few tricks up her sleeve, including a powerful one-handed forehand that Fernandez was often powerless to catch.

The 18-year-old qualifier betrayed no evidence of nervousness, often blowing her fingertips after a hard-earned point or piercing the air with a triumphant cry.

Indeed, the emotional Fernandez seemed almost under control throughout the match, allowing himself only modest small punches, despite the encouragement of a New York audience clearly in love with the two young stars.

That changed late in the second set, where – sensing an opportunity where others might only find desperation – the punches came faster, the smiles more easily, often with a knowing look at his coach and them. members of his family in the crowd.

It was then that Raducanu, his right knee bloodied from a slipped shot attempt, got a medical timeout, a development that visibly seemed to frustrate his opponent.

Fernandez could be seen arguing with officials over the decision to grant the time-out, particularly at a point in the game when she was clearly on a wave of momentum.

“I want to play,” she told the official at one point.

Fernandez, 19, from Montreal, captivated crowds in New York City with his unexpected run to his first career Grand Slam final.

Fernandez, who is based in Boynton Beach, Fla. But represents Canada, beat WTA Tour stars Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka en route to the championship.

She was ranked 73rd in the world at the start of the tournament, but played like a seasoned veteran.

His opponent was also an unexpected finalist: Raducanu, the world No.150, is from Toronto and moved overseas to the London area at the age of two. She needed to get through the qualifying rounds just to qualify for the main draw.

Montrealer Felix Auger-Aliassime reached the men’s singles semifinals before losing to Russian Daniil Medvedev on Friday afternoon.

Fernandez was hoping to become the first Canadian to win a Grand Slam singles title since Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., Won the US Open in 2019.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on September 11, 2021.

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