Tennis Prose



Emma Edges Leylah To Win US Open

Maybe the most unlikely US Open final in history did not disappoint and in fact it delivered an unforgettable classic duel between two previously undistinguished teenagers, one ranked in the 70s, the other around 150.

Emma Raducanu was a little better in all aspects and prevailed with a hard fought 64 63 triumph, her first WTA title. She is the first qualifer to win the US Open.

Raducanu, just 18, did not lose a set the entire tournament. She played seven main draw matches and three qualifying matches for a total of 20 sets. The symmetrical, perfect performance saw Raducanu win her third and final qualifying match with an ace out side to the ad court. And she also used the exact same deathblow shot to slay Leylah Fernandez on her third match point – the same ace out side to the ad court.

Leylah’s counterpunching style, variety, and surprising power – a unique playing style that resembles a combination of a young Monica Seles and Marcelo Rios – had the British girl on the ropes at the end. Leylah held serve for 5-3 and then had break points but did not convert. On one frantic point at the end, Raducanu fell and bloodied her knee, then requested an injury timeout to tape it up. It was break point for Leylah.

Fernandez was annoyed by the delay as she had gained momentum with her fight back and was whipping the Ashe Stadium crowd into a frenzy to support her furious, desperate attempt to survive and then steal the title. The unforunate but fair delay to stop and cover the bleeding annoyed Leylah who had to wait as her muscled surely tightened.

When play resumed after a few minutes, Emma had a taped knee and she saved the break point off a long Leylah forehand. Emma ultimately kept her head together and managed to win the last three points to escape with the monumental victory.

She fell to her knee and rolled over onto her back, absolutely in awe and shock at her rapid rise, amazing performance and the stunning change of fortune. Just two months ago she was ranked 339 in the world and was losing matches in minor tournaments in Nottingham.

Never has a player emerged out of total obscurity to become a Grand Slam champion as suddenly as Raducanu, at least in this century.

It may never happen again.

Fernandez was distraught she lost the match – this feisty, ferocious competitor fully expected to win the match from 46 25 down! She is now a global icon fan favorite around the world because of her exciting, daring style and endearing charisma. Though heartbroken in tears at her chair, she collected her poise and grace for the trophy ceremony and gained many millions of more fans with her classy words about her family, her opponent and New York City people.

The teenager of Filipino and Ecuadorian descent has a bright future with many more Grand Slam finals to come in the next decade.

The same goes for Emma Raducanu, the new champion, half Chinese, half Romanian and based in London. Emma was irrelevant as a player in July and now is on the fast track to becoming the a major force in the WTA.

Things can change very quickly in the tennis universe.

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  • catherine · September 12, 2021 at 1:42 am

    Ha ha – literally ‘blood on the court’. The LTA here is turning itself inside out with glee. But to give this much maligned organisation its due, Emma was spotted when she was barely 12 and taken under the LTA wing from then on.

    BTW, I think I forecasted correctly – Fernandez was the NY crowd favourite. Emma is maybe a little too cool for frenzied popularity in the US. True, Leylah maybe had tougher opponents but Sabalenka beat herself as usual and Emma would have dismissed Kerber, destroying Angie’s serve and reading her style like a well-thumbed book.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2021 at 8:34 am

    Catherine, I thought it was 5050 support for both, maybe Leylah had that extra underdog factor as she got behind early and she lost to Emma at junior Wimbledon 2018 64 62. Just a sensationally gripping final, to see the fresh new faces instead of the same old tired choke artists and drama queens. Thrilling final and the delivery of an important inspiring message to all young or old players: You never know when you’re breakout will come, keep working hard and, sorry please forgive me for saying the worst most boring cliche in tennis history, “trust the process.”

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2021 at 2:24 pm

    On a sidenote, before the US Open I was suddenly contacted by an exciting, creative, in depth new European tennis magazine to do a 3000 word feature on Emma. I agreed despite not having any access to her during the Open. A concern of the editor was he didn’t have a photographer on site during qualies, and if she lost in qualies there would be no chance to have the professional photographer get the high quality unique shots desired. Emma solved all our issues and won her three qualies matches and then the tournament! And the editor is happy with my drafts so far:

    Love the direction this is taking. Elegant prose, insightful, way
    beyond the obvious and a good read. It┬┤s also great that you put
    Emma┬┤s accomplishments into perspective and compare her with other

    She seems so at ease at on-court interviews. Spontaneous, yet
    reflected and mature. I have commentated so many womens┬┤s matches at
    the Open this year and Emma really shines in this regard and seems so
    at ease. A little more on personality would be great.

    Raducanu┬┤s US Open campaign is far from over. I am sure you will find
    a balance between her breakthrough at Wimbledon and her run at US Open
    as a qualifier in your final text. I will be commentating the women┬┤s
    semis for Discovery and hope she beats Bencic today (will try to sound
    objective though;).

    Also like that you use quotes from famous historical people.

    Maybe cut down a little on the amount of names in your story. Also
    quotes from other/former players, just keep the best ones.

    Again, very happy. We will have a great piece on Emma. Images we
    receive of her from the Open are also top quality.

  • catherine · September 12, 2021 at 5:10 pm

    Scoop – just out of interest, can you say who’s doing this new mag ? I had the idea that print magazines were no longer thought of as viable. There are a couple in the UK but neither are very successful. Websites seem to have taken over pretty much.

    My feeling is Emma’s going to be big in the Chinese market since she’s photogenic and speaks fluent Mandarin.
    I’m sure the WTA would be keen on that, having lost their Asian tournaments for the foreseeable future.

  • Scoop Malinowski · September 12, 2021 at 7:14 pm

    Catherine, I can’t share details at this time, just happy to be aboard and part of something special and exciting. For sure Emma is going to be a superstar of the highest order. It’s intriguing to think about how much better she can get with some more experience, which she has virtually none of at the WTA level, about four tournaments worth of experience that’s all.



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