Fearless Raducanu sails past Sakkari into first Grand Slam final; British clash set for men’s doubles final
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Only three weeks ago, Emma Raducanu arrived at the US Open looking to qualify for her main draw debut – fast forward to today and she has just defeated World No.18 Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-4 on the Arthur Ashe Stadium to reach the final in New York.
The 18-year-old star – who is set to become the new British No.1 after this week – is the first qualifier to ever reach the final of a Grand Slam in the Open Era. The win also sees Raducanu become the first British woman to reach the final of a slam since Virginia Wade in 1977.
Still yet to drop a set at this year’s event and losing a mere 27 games across her main draw matches – Raducanu delivered one of the best performances of her career to date as she sailed past Sakkari in straight sets.
The opening exchanges came down to which player was going to hold their nerve. Having been broken in the first game in both of her last two matches, Raducanu once again faced three break points to start the match but kept her cool to get herself on the scoreboard.
These would be the first of seven break points that Raducanu saved in the set alone as she continued to raise her game in the high pressure moments.
The young Brit has been arguably the best returner of serve in this year’s event and displayed her quality once again, breaking Sakkari on both her first service games to win the opening five games in a row.
Sakkari is one of the in-form players on the tour right now – having reached semi-finals at the French Open and then again here at the US Open – but the Greek star couldn’t find her level.
Unforced errors were defining in the final result – Sakkari racking up 33 in the match, almost double that of Raducanu (17).
In the third game of the second set, Raducanu launched an attack on the 17th seed’s serve, driving each return back into tough positions and she eventually got her reward.
Now leading by a break and with the momentum to go on and win the match, Raducanu showed the level-headedness that you would expect from a multiple slam champion. She saw out the win with some devastating serving to become the youngest British Grand Slam finalist since 1959.
After her histroic win, Raducanu said, "The time in New York has gone so quickly, I've been taking care of each day and three weeks later I'm in the final. I actually can't believe it.”
“Is there any expectation? I’m a qualifier so technically, on paper, there’s nothing. No pressure on me.”
In the final she will play fellow Canadian teenager Leylah Fernandez, who came through a three-set battle with World No.2 Aryna Sabalenka in the first semi-final of the day.
Elsewhere, Britain is guaranteed a men’s doubles champion at this year’s US Open as both Joe Salisbury and Jamie Murray won their semi-final clashes earlier in the day.
2020 Australian Open champions, Salisbury and Rajeev Ram, have been one of the most consistent teams on the tour this year and showed their class in a dominant 7-6 (5), 6-4 win over Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson.
Having already reached the final in Australia this year and qualifying for the Nitto ATP Tour Finals already, the British American team will be gunning for their second Grand Slam title together.
Murray and Bruno Soares on the other hand, had to dig deep in a close 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 win over John Peers and Filip Polasek.
This will be the first time in five years that Murray has competed in a men’s doubles Grand Slam final, since the pair went all the way at the US Open in 2016.
"It's been such a stop-start season for us for various things going on in our lives, especially Bruno,” said Murray.
"This is why we came back together, we wanted to win big tournaments, feeling like we can turn up and we've got a great chance to win. For us, the opportunity to play in a Grand Slam final again is so exciting."
In their only head-to-head encounter, Salisbury and Ram defeated Murray and Soares in straight sets in the semi-finals of this year’s Australian Open.
There were also big wins for Alfie Hewett, Gordon Reid and Jordanne Whiley in the wheelchair singles events, with all three Brits progressing to the next round.