73rd-ranked left-hander takes on second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka
Teen powerhouses Leylah Fernandez and Emma Raducanu are each one victory from reaching their first Grand Slam final at the US Open, displaying the next generation’s formidable talent.
Raducanu, a British 18-year-old who became the first US Open qualifier to reach the last four, and Fernandez, a Canadian who ousted Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber before turning 19 on Monday, have starring roles in Thursday’s women’s semi-finals at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Fernandez, a 73rd-ranked left-hander, will face second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus, who has matched her deepest Slam run from July at Wimbledon, while 150th-ranked Raducanu faces Greek 17th seed Maria Sakkari, who matched her best Slam run from June’s French Open.
“I think we all have equal chances of winning the semifinals and then winning the title,” Sakkari said. “We are all for a reason here. We’re all playing well.”
One of the four will capture her first Grand Slam title in Saturday’s final, which could be an electrifying prodigy battle.
“I’ve known Leylah since we were juniors, in Under-12s,” Raducanu said. “We played Orange Bowl and all of those tournaments. I played her in Junior Wimbledon, actually.
“The fact we’re both in the semifinals of the US Open after having played each other from the early days, it’s very cool to see just how far we have come.
She’s a really cool person.”
Serena Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam champion who turns 40 later this month, won her first major title at the 1999 US Open at age 17, three years before Raducanu or Fernandez were born. Raducanu, only the fourth qualifier in the semis at any Slam, could become the first qualifier to reach a Grand Slam final.—AFP