British teen Emma Raducanu became the first qualifier to reach a Grand Slam final by beating Greece’s Maria Sakkari 6-1 6-4 in her U.S. Open semi-final on Thursday.
With British tennis royalty Tim Henman and Virginia Wade looking on, Raducanu fended off seven break points across her first two service games and capitalized on a trio of double faults from Sakkari on the way to a 5-0 lead in the first set.
Down a break in the second set, Sakkari then fought off five break points in a near 10-minute seventh game but the 18-year-old Raducanu would not be denied the victory and went on to seal the match and set up a final against 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez.
“Honestly, the time here in New York has gone so fast,” she said. “I’ve just been taking care of each day, and before you know three weeks later, I’m in the final and I can’t actually believe it.”
Raducanu has not dropped a set in New York and completely outmatched 17th seed Sakkari, who reached the semi-final at Roland Garros this year.
The Greek had 33 unforced errors in the one hour and 24-minute match and struggled mightily with her first serve.
Raducanu, who electrified British tennis with her run to the fourth round of Wimbledon, has been embraced by the rowdy crowds in New York and beamed up at the stands inside Arthur Ashe Stadium after closing out the match with a forehand winner.
“Since I’ve been in New York for my first round qualies match I’ve had unbelievable support in New York and you guys have made me feel right at home,” she said.
“I was just so excited to come out here and play in front of you guys.”
Raducanu now has the chance to become the first British woman to win a Grand Slam since Wade won Wimbledon in 1977.