Ranking and age are just numbers… 150th, 18-year-old girl becomes major queen

Britain’s Emma Radukanu smiles with a trophy after defeating Leyla Fernandez in the women’s singles final at the 2021 U.S. Open at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York, USA on the 12th. New York = AFP Yonhap News

In recent years, as women’s professional tennis has moved into the ‘Spring and Autumn Sengoku Era’, interest in the four major tournaments as well as general tour tournaments has greatly cooled compared to men’s. However, the final of the 2021 U.S. Open, the last major tournament of the season, held at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on the 12th was different. This is because, for the first time in 22 years, the final between teenagers in the women’s singles event was held.

The main characters are Emma Radukanu (UK) and Leyla Fernandez (Canada), who were born in 2002 of the same age. They were ranked 150th and 73rd respectively in the world rankings, but this was not a problem. It was thanks to both players who proved their ability by defeating many strong players during their progress to the finals. Now, fans wanted to see which of the two was stronger, and naturally the show drew attention. In the end, after an hour and 51 minutes of play, Radukanu defeated Fernandes 2-0 (6-4 6-3) and became the final winner. This is the first time in 44 years since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977, a British player has won the women’s singles title at a major event.

During the tournament, Radukanu beat the top ranking players such as Naomi Osaka, Angelique Kerber, Elena Svitolina, and Arina Savalenka during the tournament. After taking the first set with elaborate shots that follow the sidelines at every turn, the second set also led the game by a score of 5-2. While sliding to receive at the end of the game, his left knee was torn and bleeding. Then, with an exciting sub-ace, he confirmed the victory and laid down on the court holding his face.

With this victory, Radukanu became the protagonist of all great records. First, she became the youngest person to win the US Open since Serena Williams (17 years and 11 months) in 1999. She also became the youngest women’s singles champion at a major event since Maria Sharapova, 17, who reached the Wimbledon final in 2004. Radukanu, who went through the preliminaries with a very low ranking, also set the record of winning the championship as the first person to pass the preliminaries in both men’s and women’s singles majors. In addition, he also created a record of ‘no-silent set wins’, where he climbed to the top without giving away a single set throughout the entire tournament. It is the second record in history after Serena Williams won the first U.S. Open in 2014. Unlike Williams, Radukanu played 10 games without loss, including three qualifying matches, giving the audience even more surprise.

Although defeated, Fernandes also made a strong impression on the fans by defeating many strong players throughout the tournament. Together with Radukanu, she is expected to establish herself as a star who will lead the future of women’s tennis.

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