Head-to-head: On Saturday, Leylah Fernandez, 19, and Emma Raducanu, 18, will face each other at the Arthur Ashe Stadium at 4 p.m. This will be the first men’s or women’s major final in the Open era to feature two unseeded players, according to ESPN.
- Fernandez, who represents Canada, was the first to secure her spot after defeating world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 7-6 (3), 4-6, 6-4 on Thursday. She has proven her ability to beat anyone after upsetting defending champion Naomi Osaka in the third round, three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber in the fourth and fifth seed Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals, Reuters noted.
- Raducanu, who represents the U.K., became the first qualifier — male or female — to reach a Grand Slam final in the Open era after shocking world No. 18 Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1, 6-4. She is the youngest British major finalist in 62 years, the first British female to reach a major final in 44 years, and the first British female to reach the U.S. Open final in 53 years, as per the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
(Teenage) dream final. pic.twitter.com/iKZkHuLAne
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 10, 2021
Asian roots: Saturday’s match will be the first Grand Slam final between two teenagers since the 1999 U.S. Open between Serena Williams and Martina Hingis. Aside from both being teens, Fernandez and Raducanu are of Asian descent.
- Fernandez was born in Montreal to a Filipino Canadian mother and an Ecuadorian father. After Thursday’s match, she recalled a time when her mother moved to the U.S. to make money to support their family.
- “My mom had to go to California for a few years to support my family and I in the tennis world,” Fernandez told AFP. “Those few years had been definitely hard for me because I needed a mom, I needed someone to be there for me through the ages of 10 to 13.”
- Fernandez’ mother is now able to be with her at the U.S. Open. “I was just very lucky to have my mom here at this tournament cheering for me and having fun with me all this time. We’ve gone through so many things together as a family. I’m just glad that right now everything’s going on our side,” she told AFP.
- Raducanu was born in Toronto to a Chinese mother and a Romanian father before moving to England at the age of 2. She told Reuters that having a Chinese mom “definitely instilled in me from a young age hard work and discipline.”
- In a previous interview with China Daily, Raducanu described her mother’s family, who lives in Shenyang, Liaoning province, as “mentally resilient.” “It’s like nothing can bring them down. I would say I take a big part of my inspiration from her. My mom has worked very hard,” she said.
- Raducanu also credits retired Chinese tennis star Li Na as a source of inspiration. Li beat Francesca Schiavone in the 2011 French Open final to become the first Chinese winner of a Grand Slam. “Her inner strength and belief definitely stood out for me. The amount of mental strength and resiliency she showed, that match still sticks in my mind to this day,” she told Reuters.