Leyla Fernandez’s magical run fell short at the 2021 US Open when she lost to Emma Raducanu in the finals in straight sets, 6-4, 6-3.
Both players put up an incredible run, bordering on the fairy tale. Still, Raducanu played strong tennis and made clean shots to be the first-ever player, male or female, to win the US Open after qualifying.
The tennis world watched as not only one but two stars were born.
Raducanu started the match strong, holding serve and breaking Fernandez in the next game to take an early 2-0 lead as Fernandez struggled with her serve. The first set went tied at 4-4 before Raducanu won the next two games and clinched the set with a forehand crosscourt down the line to take the set 6-4.
In the second set, Raducanu showed composure as she easily held the first game to go up 1-0. Fernandez tied and took a 2-1 lead after breaking Raducanu with two strong serves, but Raducanu tied the set at 2-2 after she got a breakpoint with a backhand return winner. She holds on the next game to go up 3-2, then increases the lead to 4-2 when she breaks Fernandez with an excellent forehand passing shot, bringing her two games away from winning.
Sensing a win, she played confidently to go up 5-2 as a Fernandez backhand goes long. Fernandez came back to win the next game and bring it to 5-3 as Raducanu could not convert on a championship point.
On the next match, Fernandez’s strong rally was interrupted with a medical time-out when the trainer bandaged Raducano’s bleeding knee, which was scraped on the court when she chased down a ball.
Fernandez appeared to be not happy with the time out and was seen talking to the umpire. After the two traded points when play resumed, Raducanu reached championship point with an overhead smash and finished it off with an ace to win the championship, falling on her back at the court in both relief and disbelief.
During an on-court interview after the match, Fernandez cried and thanked the New York crowd for their support and of her throughout the tournament.
She hopes she “will be as strong and resilient as New York has been the past 20 years” and promised that she will be back next year to claim the “right trophy.”
By: Dean de Jesus. September 11, 2021