US Open: Gen Z players Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez face off in final

Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez will face off in the US Open final on Saturday. Credit: AP

For two unseeded teenage players, it is a fairy tale in New York that they have even reached the final of the US Open.

With a combined age of just 37 years, the teenage duo of Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez will face off in the final on Saturday.

It was in 1999 when the Grand Slam last featured two teenagers - a young 17-year-old Serena Williams, and a relevant newcomer at the time, beat an 18-year-old Marina Hingis.

Raducanu and Fernandez had not yet been born.

The two Gen-Z players have both taken the tournament by storm, dismissing some of the world’s best players between them.

Raducanu seems to have stunned even herself by reaching the Grand Slam final – she admitted earlier in the week she had booked a flight home after the qualifiers – never believing she would reach the last two of the tournament.

The 18-year-old from Kent is the first qualifier – male or female – to make the final of any Grand Slam following a sensational 6-1 6-4 victory over 17th seed Maria Sakkari.

The humble teen is also now the first British woman to earn a place in a major final since Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977.

She is one match away from becoming the first British female winner at Flushing Meadows since Wade in 1968.

And the youngest British Grand Slam finalist for 62 years – it was in 1959 when Christine Truman reached the French Open final aged 18.

Raducanu is the first qualifier – male or female – to make the final of any grand slam tournament. Credit: AP

Incredibly Raducanu has not lost a set en route to the final and has dropped just 27 games in her six matches.

Speaking about her chances in the final, she said: “Is there any expectation? I’m a qualifier so technically there’s no pressure on me,” she added.

Raducanu might not be putting pressure on herself but the whole of the UK are putting their faith in her.

Many congratulated her on reaching the final, including the Duchess of Cambridge who wished the teenager “the best of luck” and Boris Johnson who said “the whole country will be cheering you on in the final.”

Who's Raducanu’s opponent?

Canadian Leylah Fernandez only turned 19 this week, she hails from Montreal, but has Filipino heritage from her mother Irene and Ecuadorian and Peruvian heritage from father Jorge, a former footballer, who moved to Canada as a child and is his daughter’s coach.

Raducanu and Fernandez are only separated in age by two months and last met on court in 2018 in the girls’ singles at Wimbledon in 2018, with Raducanu winning 6-2 6-4.

But Fernandez had the more prestigious junior career, winning the French Open girls’ title and reaching the Australian Open final in 2019.

She was set on a tennis career from a young age despite early rejection by the Canadian system.

Fernandez hails from Montreal and her dad, Jorge, is her main coach. Credit: AP

Fernandez’s mother moved to the USA alone to support the family and her daughter’s budding career, before the whole family subsequently relocated to Florida.

The teenager has played on the main tour for two years, winning her first WTA title in Mexico earlier this year.

The 19-year-old’s route to the final was a tough one, she made her first splash by upsetting defending champion Naomi Osaka in round three.

She followed that by knocking out another former winner in Angelique Kerber, fifth seed Elina Svitolina and second seed Aryna Sabalenka, all in tough three-set contests.

She has spent more time on court than Raducanu despite playing three fewer matches but her belief has been evident throughout, with Fernandez saying after beating Kerber that she was not surprised by her achievements.

Her game style is one based on superb athleticism, similar to Raducanu’s, her first serve averages at 96 miles per hour and she does a good job of protecting her second serve, while also being comfortable at the net.

But Fernandez is the more exuberant on court, drawing the crowd into matches with what has already become a trademark exhortation-cum-fist pump.

What time is US Open final and how can I watch?

Raducanu faces Fernandez at 9pm BST (4pm local time) on Saturday evening.

The final can only be watched live on Amazon Prime Video and highlights of the match will be shown on BBC in a special hour-long show on Sunday afternoon.

Will Raducanu’s parents attend the US Open final?

The teenager’s parents, Renee and Ian Raducanu, will sadly not be there court-side to watch their daughter play in the final on Saturday.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, travel from the UK to the US is currently banned.

Raducanu explained: "It's not possible, because you need a waiver and it takes a couple of weeks for approval.

"It's too late, and they won't be able to get one."

Renee Raducanu (centre) at Wimbledon this year.

Even though they will not be there in person, Raducanu has said she will continue to emulate the positive attributes her parents have taught her on court.

"I think my parents have both instilled in me from a very young age to definitely have a positive attitude on court," she said.

"Because when I was younger, it was definitely an absolute no-go if I had any sort of bad attitude.

"So from a young age, I definitely learnt that, and it's followed me until now."