|Place: Flushing Meadows, New York Dated: August 30-September 12|
|Blanket: Daily radio commentary on the BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra / BBC Sport website and app, with a selection of live text commentary and match reports on the website and app|
Emma Raducanu ended Britain’s 44-year wait for a women’s Grand Slam champion by beating Leylah Fernandez to win the US Open in the most exciting style.
The 18-year-old ended her barely believable run in New York with a 6-4 6-3 victory over her 19-year-old Canadian opponent in a high-quality final.
Raducanu threw herself to the ground in disbelief as she drew an ace to wrap up what has been the most remarkable trip.
Raducanu served for the game at 5-3 but cut her leg as she broke down resulting in a medical timeout and a clearly irritated Fernandez expressing frustration to the match official.
However, Raducanu ignored the delay, saving another breaking point before closing his third league point.
The two shared a warm hug before Raducanu climbed the stairs at Arthur Ashe Stadium to celebrate with his support box.
Raducanu was encouraged by an emotional Virginia Wade, who was the last British woman to win a major trophy at Wimbledon in 1977.
“It means so much to have Virginia Wade here and also Tim Henman,” Raducanu said in his speech on the pitch.
“They are British icons and for me, following in their footsteps gave me the conviction that I could do it.”
With the victory, Raducanu becomes:
- The first British woman to win at Flushing Meadows since Virginia Wade in 1968
- The first Open-era qualifier to win a Slam
- Youngest Women’s Slam Champion since Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon in 2004
- The youngest Briton to win a Grand Slam title
- The first woman to win the US Open without losing a set since Serena Williams in 2014
She will take home £ 1.8million in cash prizes, move up to 23rd in the world rankings and become Britain’s number one on Monday.
Raducanu will also know that she starred in one of the greatest moments in British sporting history – and captured the imaginations of fans at home and in New York.
The ascent and ascent of Raducanu
Astonishing. Ridiculous. Meteoric. Unbelievable. Take your pick – but no words can ever really sum up what Raducanu has achieved.
Two weeks ago, Raducanu booked a flight to the UK, just in case she didn’t qualify in New York. Seventeen days later, she lifted the trophy in front of a delighted crowd.
Raducanu didn’t just go through qualifying: she dominated them. The most games she’s lost in a set in her entire New York run – five – came in the second round of qualifying.
It wasn’t just that Raducanu kept winning, but she did it with such dominance. She did not lose a set on her way to the final, despite meeting Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and Maria Sakkari in great shape.
In the big moments, she kept her cool, confident in her power and her service, even when she saw two league points go in the final.
She’s someone who two months ago was collecting her A-level results. She didn’t make her WTA main draw debut until June. It all happened so quickly, and yet not once did Raducanu seem out of place.
With all the attention paid to Raducanu after Wimbledon – as well as questions from some about her mental toughness – she could easily have been overwhelmed.
Instead, she trusted herself, hired a new coach in Andrew Richardson, and went to America to perform in the various events.
No one could have seen it coming; not the ease with which Raducanu would dismiss her opponents, nor the calm with which she would approach every match.
But Raducanu always believed. And she will leave New York as the US Open champion.
‘Nearly perfect performance’ – analysis
Former UK number one Laura Robson on BBC Radio 5 Live: “There are so many sliding door moments. Before Wimbledon, Emma didn’t have a wildcard for the main draw. Would she be in that position if they hadn’t improved it? Would that happen if she did. hadn’t had to retire from round four with breathing problems?
“She played an almost perfect performance in her first Grand Slam final. You must be thinking there will be so many more.”
Former Wimbledon Champion Pat Cash: “I can’t believe it. It’s unheard of for a qualifier to win the US Open. Goran Ivanisevic won Wimbledon as a wildcard but had previously made the Wimbledon final, not playing a second Grand Slam.
“She hits so cleanly. I can’t seem to think of a reason for that to happen. It just doesn’t make sense. Her performance is mind-blowing.”
BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller: “I have never seen anything like it and I suspect that if I work in this company for another 20 years, I will not see anything like it.”
Nerves? What nerves?
A full Arthur Ashe stadium – which can seat nearly 24,000 people – is one of the most intimidating venues in tennis, but neither player looked fazed as he stepped into the biggest stage of his career. .
Fernandez had more crowd support given she ousted the second, third and fifth seeds in New York, but there was still good support for Raducanu.
The first three games lasted 23 minutes, with both players showing a devastating range of cross-strikes and fiery serves returns, and they traded breaks when they found their places.
As she did throughout the tournament, Raducanu pulled out 0-30 on several occasions, stepping forward, playing more aggressively and finding his first serves.
It gave him the confidence to attack Fernandez’s second serve and get in the lead. She closed the first set with a forehand down the line, turning and pumping her fist towards her box before uttering a cry of “come on!” To the crowd as they stood up to applaud.
Fernandez showed tenacity throughout the tournament and she did it here, saving three break points in her first service game to prevent Raducanu from taking a 2-0 lead in the second.
She then found the break, adjusting to better hit Raducanu’s serves, and it seemed the momentum had swayed the young Canadian’s path.
However, there’s a reason Raducanu didn’t drop a set in New York City. During the change, she sat quietly with her eyes closed, before increasing her tempo again and creating the opportunity for a break.
She broke with the shot of the match – a superb forehand pass, almost off the field, that left Fernandez stranded at the net.
Two championship points came and went on Fernandez’s serve, saved once again by courageous strikes, but Raducanu didn’t falter despite a nasty cut to her leg as she slid past the baseline.
It was a strange interlude in what was an entertaining final that proved that the future of women’s tennis is bright.