US Open final: The £1.8m battle of the teens as Brit sensation Emma Raducanu faces old rival Leylah Fernandez
EMMA RADUCANU is already a history-maker at 18 – but things could be about to get even better for the British tennis wonderkid.
On Saturday she will go head-to-head against old rival and fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez, 19, in the US Open final.
The two have some history. They played each other in Junior Wimbledon in 2018 with Raducanu triumphing 6-2 6-4 in their second round clash.
They were also both born in Canada – Raducanu spending the first two years of her life in Toronto before moving to London.
The prize money on offer to the victor is £1.8m – almost DOUBLE their combined career earnings.
Raducanu is on track to become the highest-earning British female sports star EVER as her popularity soars.
Here, SunSport checks out how the teen sensations have already made it to the biggest stage.
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Raducanu was born in Toronto, Canada in November 2002 – just a couple of months after tennis icon Pete Sampras won his 14th Grand Slam title.
The daughter of a Romanian father and Chinese mother, the youngster moved to London when she was just two years old.
Raducanu became engrossed in sport from a young age, picking up a tennis racket three years later and trying her hand various activities.
But tennis – along with education, picking up an A* in Maths on A-level results day last month – soon became her priority.
She turned pro in 2018 before joining the WTA Tour this year – the highest level in women's tennis.
And it was at this year's Wimbledon tournament when the British public realised this was a serious talent – although her journey there ended in tears.
Sadly, breathing difficulties and dizziness forced Raducanu to withdraw half-way through her fourth-round clash with Ajla Tomljanovic- but the wildcard had earned £181k for getting there.
Raducanu's success at Wimbledon saw her social media following rocket – and she's been making the most of her deserved fame.
She enjoyed a well-earned break after her SW19 heroics, cheering England to victory against Denmark in their Euro 2020 semi-final.
The F1 fanatic also got the chance to go to Silverstone to watch Lewis Hamilton win the British Grand Prix in July.
Raducanu was forced to qualify for the US Open at Flushing Meadows in New York.
But she confirmed her success at SW19 was no fluke, winning her three qualifiers in straight sets to reach the first round.
And Raducanu has kept on winning – beating Stefanie Vogele and Shuai Zhang to set up a third-round tie with Sara Sorribes Tormo.
The Spaniard barely put up a fight, losing 6-0, 6-1, before American ace Shelby Rogers was equally taken to the cleaners – Raducanu dropping just three games en route to a comfortable victory.
She then beat Belinda Bencic 6-3 6-4 in the quarters before a stunning semi-final show to see off Greek world No18 Maria Sakkari 6-1 6-4
That saw her make history by becoming the first qualifier in history – male or female – to reach a Grand Slam final.
She is the first British woman to reach a major singles final for 44 years – and things could be about to get even bigger.
Her career prize money prior to the US Open was around £220,000 – but she is guaranteed £902,000 already for reaching the final.
On the opposite side of the net is Canada's very own teen talent Fernandez.
Born in Montreal to a Filipino Canadian mother and Ecuadorian father, the family moved to Florida after Leylah had success as a junior at age 12.
Her dad is also her coach, although he is not with her in New York, instead offering coaching tips in daily phone conversations.
Raducanu and Fernandez met each other for the first time when they were both playing in U12 tournaments and bonded over their shared connection to Canada.
On Saturday, they will share a court for the first time in a tour-level match.
They did play, however, in the Wimbledon junior tournament's second round in 2018.
Raducanu won that one. Three years later, they'll play again on a grander stage and with much, much more at stake.
Fernandez edged out to No2 seed Aryna Sabalenka 7-6 (3) 4-6 6-4 in her semi-final.
This was the left-handed Fernandez's fourth consecutive three-set victory over a seeded opponent.
First came No3 Naomi Osaka, the 2018 and 2020 U.S. Open champion. Then came No. 16 Angelique Kerber, the 2016 champ.
That was followed by No. 5 Elina Svitolina and Sabalenka.
Fernandez's best past showing at a Slam was getting to the third round at Roland Garros last year. She has earned around £570,000 from her career and has won one singles title – the 2021 Monterrey Open.
Incredibly the wonderkid was advised to 'give up' on her tennis dreams during her time at school.
Speaking to the WTA, she explained: "A teacher told me to stop playing tennis, you'll never make it, just focus on school.
"I'm glad she told me that because every day I have that phrase in my head saying: I'm going to keep going, push through, prove to her everything I've dreamed of I'm going to achieve."
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