ITV News Correspondent Juliet Bremner hears the good luck messages from around the UK for British teenager Raducanu
Tennis player Emma Raducanu said she's in "shock" that she has reached the final of the US Open - becoming the first British woman to reach a Grand Slam singles final in 44 years.
The 18-year-old, from Kent, defeated Greece's Maria Sakkari with a sensational 6-1 6-4 victory on Friday morning that secured her spot in the Arthur Ashe Court showdown on Saturday.
Raducanu's historic win saw her become the first qualifier, male or female, to reach the final of any grand slam tournament and she is the youngest US Open finalist in more than 20 years.
The teenager hopes to continue to rewrite the history books to become the first British woman to win a singles title since Virginia Wade in 1977, when she goes head-to-head with Canada's Leylah Fernandez on Saturday.
Raducanu and Fernandez have swept past a host of vastly more experienced players to set up the first all-teenage final since Serena Williams beat Martina Hingis in 1999 - before this year’s finalists were even born.
The British star is still pinching herself at being in the final and said it was a "surprise" and couldn't "actually believe" she made it.
She said: “To be in a grand slam final at this stage of my career, yeah, I have no words.
"I’ve only really been on tour for a month, two months, since Wimbledon. It’s pretty crazy to me.”
“Today I wasn’t thinking about anyone else except for myself. While I have the moment I want to thank my team and the LTA and everyone at home for all their support," she added.
Following her win at Flushing Meadows, Raducanu posted pictures of herself celebrating on the court and wrote: "Pure happiness under the lights in New York".
Incredibly, Raducanu has not lost a set en route to the final and has dropped just 27 games in her six matches.
The teen star believes that her age has been a bonus rather than a hindrance in her historic journey to the final.
She said: “I think honestly being young, there is an element of you do play completely free.
“But I’m sure that when I’m older or have more experience, yeah, the same will happen to me. I think the tables will turn. Some younger players will come through.
“Honestly right now I’m just thinking of the game plan, how to execute. That’s what’s landed me in this situation. It hasn’t been focusing on who’s expected to win this match or that one.
“I think it’s just taking care of the day. That’s what I’m doing quite well at the moment.”
As for her chances in the final? “Is there any expectation? I’m a qualifier so technically there’s no pressure on me,” she added.
Two months after bursting onto the scene at Wimbledon ranked 361st in the world, a month after receiving her A level results, and 13 days after entering qualifying in New York, the teen from Orpington stands on the brink of one of the most remarkable sporting achievements of all time.
Former British number one Tim Henman branded Raducanu’s performance which secured her win over Sakkari as “simply stunning”.
“It’s an absolutely staggering performance,” Henman told Amazon Prime.
“If we just look at the way she came out and played, her quality of tennis from start to finish, she was so resilient. She never flinched.
“She never let up. It was relentless. And then you’ve got to throw in the scenario of being a qualifier, an 18-year-old, with all the legends who have ever played this game at grand slam level... It’s simply stunning.
“She deserves all the credit in the world. On the biggest stage in our sport at every opportunity she plays on her terms. It’s incredible to watch.
“She’ll need to enjoy this tonight and then get ready for Saturday.”
Even 26-year-old Sakkari, the world number 18, had no answer to Raducanu’s boundless energy and nerveless shotmaking. Giving "credit" to both the Kent teen and Fernandez, Sakkari said: “I mean, it’s huge what she has accomplished. They are both young.
"They play fearless. They have nothing to lose playing against us."
Excited tennis fans were on a high following Raducanu's win and told ITV News who they are rooting for tomorrow
Tennis coach Judy Murray called Raducanu a "Teen Queen" and hailed her "incredible achievement", while the Lawn Tennis Association tweeted: "Rad-A-Can-You believe".
The Duchess of Cambridge Kate Middleton, patron of the All England Lawn Tennis Club, tweeted a message of congratulations from the Kensington Royal Twitter account. Signing it off as “C” to indicate it was from Catherine, the post read: “What an incredible achievement at this year’s #USOpen @EmmaRaducanu! “We will all be rooting for you tomorrow. Wishing you the best of luck! C.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted: "Well done @EmmaRaducanu for a brilliant win at the #USOpen. The whole country will be cheering you on in the final."
Iain Bates, LTA head of women's tennis, told ITV News that Raducanu's sport journey has been "extraordinary".
He said: "Nobody quite saw this run coming here at the open.
"But she's learning all the time and this is a period of time in her career where everything is for the first time.
Iain Bates, of the LTA, described Raducanu's tennis journey as "extraordinary" to ITV News
"Even tonight, this is the first match she's played out here on Ashe, so for her to cope with all these new challenges she's facing on this trip - she's absolutely brilliant."
Striding into the vast Arthur Ashe Stadium looking for all the world as if she was about to knock up at Bromley Tennis Centre, Raducanu took immediate control of the biggest match of her short career.
She saved seven break points in her first two service games while breaking 26-year-old Sakkari to 15 to secure a 3-0 lead.
Virginia Wade: 'I can't say enough good things about her performance'
A change of skirt for Sakkari did not have the desired effect as she dropped serve again, and in the blink of an eye the first set had run away from the world number 18.
An early break in the second kept Sakkari at bay and only an extraordinary rally at break point prevented Raducanu from taking a 5-2 lead.
No matter. Two service holds and a wonderful volley on match point later and Raducanu had made history.