Emma Raducanu Ends Britain’s 44-Year Wait For A Female Grand Slam Champion At US Open - UBITENNIS
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Emma Raducanu Ends Britain’s 44-Year Wait For A Female Grand Slam Champion At US Open

Playing in the main draw of a major tournament for only the second time in her career, the teenage sensation has clinched the New York crown without dropping a single set in 10 matches played.

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2021 US Open Women's Singles Champion Emma Raducanu at the 2021 US Open, Saturday, Sep. 11, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Darren Carroll/USTA)

In what is one of the most remarkable runs in Grand Slam history Emma Raducanu has become the first qualifier to win the US Open after defeating Leylah Fernandez in a thrilling encounter at Flushing Meadows. 

The 18-year-old produced a level of tennis that exceeded her age as she battled past her Canadian rival 6-4, 6-3, who put up a valiant fight on the Arthur Ashe stadium. Raducanu has become the first British woman to win the US Open since 1968 and the first to win a major title since 1977. 

“I really want to congratulate Leylah and her team on an incredible fortnight. She’s played some incredible tennis and beaten some of the top players in the world,” the new champion said during her on-court interview.
“It was an incredibly difficult match. I thought the level was extremely high. I hope we play each other in many more tournaments and in finals.

The showdown in New York was a historic occasion with it being the first time a major final in women’s tennis had been contested by two unseeded players. Raducanu and Fernandez have clashed before but that was back in the Wimbledon junior tournament three years ago. Taking to the court to play the biggest match of their lives, neither player looked to be intimidated by the occasion. Paving the way to what was a high-quality first set of tennis.

Raducanu, who was playing in just her fourth WTA-level tournament, was the first to draw blood by breaking two games into the final on her sixth break point. However, Fernandez responded instantly to draw level once again in what was a roller-coaster opener. With both producing their best tennis, it would be the Brit who would prevail. Leading 5-4, Raducanu once again increased her intensity to apply pressure onto her opponent’s service game. Three chances to close the set out came and went before she triumphed on her fourth with the help of a blistering forehand winner down the line. Prompting Raducanu to let out her first sign of real emotion as she tried to orchestrate the crowd to get behind her. 

In recent days Fernandez has been renowned for her fighting spirit after scoring a trio of wins over top-five seeds, as well as former champion Angelique Kerber. It looked as if the Canadian would repeat this in the second frame after grabbing an early break in her favor. However, Raducanu was unfazed by the momentum change as she hit back with a vengeance by claiming four straight games to be on the verge of a historic win. 

Serving for the title after missing two championship points in the previous game, Raducanu’s fairytale victory happened in a dramatic fashion. Engaged in yet another gut-busting rally with Fernandez, she grazed her leg on the ground which forced it to bleed. Prompting the match to be halted at a time when Fernandez had a break-back point.  Resuming play, she took the match back to deuce before working her way to another match point. This time Raducanu prevailed with an ace which prompted her to drop to the ground out of sheer joy and disbelief. 

Leylah always plays great tennis and is always going to fight. That’s just the competitor she is and that’s why she’s here in the final,” she explained.
“I knew I had to dig deep. I fell somehow and I thought that would throw myself off balance because I was going to have to serve. I was just praying for a double fault but we got through it.’
“I think staying in the moment, focusing on what I had to do and my process just really helped in those tough times.”

Raducanu’s unprecedented run in Flushing Meadows is even more extraordinary given the fact it was only her second appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam. Only one other woman has ever reached the final of a major on her second appearance, which was Pam Schriver in 1978. Furthermore, only Kim Clijsters has managed to reach the title match with a lower ranking than Raducanu.

“The future of women’s tennis and the depth right now is so great,” said Raducanu. “I think every single player in the women’s draw has a shot of winning any tournament so I hope the next generation can follow in the footsteps of some of the legends (of the game).

The triumph has transformed the landscape of British women’s tennis. It had been 44 years since the last female player from the host nation of Wimbledon last won a major, which was Virginia Wade, who was in the crowd watching Saturday’s final showdown. Raducanu will now surge to a ranking high of 32nd in the world and claim the British No.1 status just nine months after being ranked outside of the world’s top 300.  

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Jasmine Paolini’s Wimbledon Run Hailed By Italian Prime Minister

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The Prime Minister of Italy has praised Jasmine Paolini for lighting up the hearts of others during her Wimbledon run. 

Paolini missed out on her first Grand Slam title to Barbora Krejcikova, who prevailed in three sets to capture her second major trophy. Despite her defeat, she has made history at the tournament by becoming the first female player from her country to reach the final. Until this year, she had never won a Tour-level main draw match on the grass. 

Whilst disappointed about missing out on the biggest title of her career, Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni posted a tribute to Paolini on social media just moments after the final had concluded.

“Proud of Jasmine Paolini,” The Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata (ANSA) quotes Meloni as saying. 

“The first Italian tennis player to reach the final of the prestigious Wimbledon tournament. 

“Despite the defeat, you lit up the hearts of the Italian people, succeeding in conveying grit and passion to all of us who supported you”. 

Paolini is the first player ranked outside the top five to reach the final of both Wimbledon and the French Open within the same year since the ranking system was introduced in 1975. She is also only the fourth female player in the Open Era to have reached her first two Grand Slam finals in the same year at Roland Garros and Wimbledon after Chris Evert (1973), Olga Morozova (1974) and Steffi Graf (1987). 

Should she win three or more matches at the US Open later this year, she will also set a new Open Era record for the most Grand Slam wins achieved by an Italian female player in a single season. 

“The last two months have been crazy for me. I want to thank my team, and my family. They always support me and I wouldn’t be here without them. The crowd have been amazing. I received a lot of support. Just incredible to feel the love from them, I enjoy it so much.” Paolini said following her Wimbledon defeat. 

The 28-year-old will rise to a ranking high of No.3 on Monday. 

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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Carlos Alcaraz And Novak Djokovic Wouldn’t Yield To Medvedev And Musetti At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz seemed to be on his own against a vastly improved Daniil Medvedev. The defending Wimbledon champion appeared to be out of tricks.

And Medvedev sensed it.

Alcaraz still scored a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Medvedev. It may look rather easy on paper, but there was nothing easy about Alcaraz’s victory. The young Spaniard just came through when he needed it to advance to what he hopes will lead to his fourth Grand Slam title.

MEDVEDEV APPLIED ENDLESS PRESSURE

Medvedev was always there, ready to pounce on any mistake by Alcaraz. But mistakes didn’t happen that often after Medvedev took the first set in a tie-breaker.

Alcaraz hadn’t served that well in the first set that Medvedev had taken in a tiebreaker. But it was a different story once Alcaraz found the mark on his serves. He just kept holding service until the match was his.

Remember, he’s only 21 years old. But now he faces someone in this Wimbledon final almost twice as old in 37-year-old Novak Djokovic.

NOVAK DIDN’T LET INJURED KNEE STOP HIM

Early in the match, Djokovic looked like he might have problems against Lorenzo Musetti. He appeared to have a slight limp in the right knee that was covered by a band. Of course, it’s been less than six months since Novak underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in that knee.

Djokovic didn’t always chase after balls in situations where his service game wasn’t in jeopardy. He just hit winners when the opportunities came along, and his serve was always ready to win a point, a game or the match.

MUSETTI WASN’T THE SAME

Young 25th seed Musetti had been so strong and talented in his quarterfinal upset of Taylor Fritz. The 22-year-old Italian had looked like he might be a threat to the likes of Djokovic and Alcaraz in the last two rounds in London.

Musetti appeared to be able to run down everything against the speedy Fritz, until Fritz seemed to grow tired in a fifth set that Musetti won easily.

The Italian wasn’t the same against Djokovic.

Djokovic was just too good and too consistent to allow Musetti to stop his bid for another title.

NOVAK THE VIOLINIST

The setting was completely different this time with Djokovic looking questionable at the start. But Musetti could hardly push Djokovic, and ended up losing by a 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Once Novak charged through the second set tiebreaker, dropping only two points, Musetti couldn’t get back into the match.

And then Novak came out pretending to play a violin on his racket for his precious 6-year-old daughter Tara, whom Novak said has been learning to play the violin for about six months.

Some fans apparently didn’t like this, but then there probably were others who became Novak Djokovic fans. Novak obviously is a great guy and dad these days.

After all, Novak has just played his 97th Wimbledon match, and he’s hoping in his 37th Grand Slam final to tie Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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