Written by Staff Writer at CNN
It’s the biggest tennis game in the world – all eight grand slam tournaments – and now the U.S. Open has a thrilling new champion, 16-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez.
Chasing down a sliding second serve from 14-year-old British wildcard Emma Raducanu, Fernandez, from Toronto, Australia, pulled off the dramatic comeback in the first set to seal the match and into the finals of the prestigious tournament, joining current U.S. champion Sloane Stephens.
In the second set, Raducanu also levelled the match after a titanic battle of unforced errors. But in an instant, Fernandez unleashed a series of remarkable shots to secure the three crucial points, earning herself a spot in the third set.
Since 2009, the U.S. Open has seen a number of young American players break through the so-called “golden era” of Italian greats, and, in the process, steal the imagination of a worldwide tennis community.
Raducanu becomes the first British woman to win the U.S. Open junior girls event since Elena Baltacha in 2006, and will play Russian and former champion Daria Kasatkina in the final on Sunday.
“My dad watched it in the stands and I’ve been dreaming about it ever since,” Raducanu said in a post-match interview on the tournament’s website.
“I’ve trained so hard and watched the matches and when I made it it was such a dream come true.”
In contrast, Fernandez, the youngest American to reach the championship match in 15 years, defeated Azahara Munoz and Carina Witthoeft to reach the last four.
Fernandez then defeated her seventh seed match opponent Hsieh Su-wei of Singapore in the semifinals.
Inspired by Williams sisters
Fernandez — who turned professional at 15, while Raducanu has been turning professional for two years — says she models her game on the top American women.
“I’ve watched Venus and Serena all the time, I love watching them both, especially Venus because she plays a very deep game,” she said.
“I like to play heavy and aggressive, and I’m really looking forward to the final.”
Fernandez and her father took to social media to celebrate their achievement after the match.