First set: *Raducanu 2-0 Sakkari (*denotes next server)
Sakkari has yet to hit a winner but she’s made her fourth and fifth unforced errors to fall behind 15-30 in her opening service game. An early opportunity for Raducanu. And now Sakkari double-faults, giving Raducanu two looks at a break point. And Raducanu seizes the early break when Sakkari misplays a drop shot!
First set: Raducanu 1-0 Sakkari* (*denotes next server)
Sakkari won the toss and elected to receive. Raducanu quickly falls behind love-30 on her serve as Sakkari moves forward in the points and tries to impose her power game. Raducanu then hits a 93mph ace out wide to get on the board at 15-30, but overcooks a forehand from the baseline on the next point for 15-40. Two early break-point chances for Sakkari. Sakkari wastes the first with a loose forehand from the baseline, then Raducanu pounds a backhand winner for deuce. Another unforced error by Raducanu gives her a third look at a break, but Sakkari goes long on a forehand from the baseline for deuce. Raducanu then escapes with the hold after crushing a 108mph ace followed by Sakkari’s third unforced error of the game.
Emma Raducanu is only the fourth qualifier to appear in a major semi-final. The other three to achieve the feat were Christine Dorey (now Mathison) at 1978 Australian Open, Alexandra Stevenson at 1999 Wimbledon and Nadia Podoroska at 2020 Roland Garros.
Both Emma Raducanu and Maria Sakkari have taken the court for tonight’s second US Open semi-final. There’s plenty on the line in this one: a $1.25m check and a spot in Saturday’s final opposite Leylah Annie Fernandez.
Asked during her pre-match interview whether having played through the qualifiers helped her, Raducanu says: “It’s very helpful to have had this many matches, so I’ve built in confidence.”
She continues: “To play on Ashe under the lights is one of the most iconic things in tennis so I’m just focusing on myself right now.”
There is a break between the two matches for a ceremony to honor the Original 9, the women led by Billie Jean King who launched a new women’s pro tour just over 50 years ago and paved the way for players such as Raducanu and Sakkari today.
The first semi-final of the evening is over and we know who the winner of this match will face: Canadian teenager Leylah Annie Fernandez. You can read about how she did it here:
Bryan will be here shortly, in the meantime here’s Tumaini Carayol on Emma Raducanu’s tournament so far:
Emma Raducanu’s searing run from the depths of the US Open qualifying tournament to the highest levels of the sport continued on Wednesday as she defeated Belinda Bencic, the Olympic gold medallist and 11th seed, 6-3, 6-4 to reach the semi-finals on her debut appearance in New York.
As she basked in the glory of her unexpected run, Raducanu revealed that such were her realistic expectations, her flights were booked for the end of the qualifying tournament. She has overstayed her original plans by a week and a half.
“I have just been focusing one day at a time, taking care of each day,” Raducanu said. “When you’re playing tournaments, you just get into this sort of autopilot mode of your routines, recovering on the day off in between. I didn’t expect to be here at all. I mean, I think my flights were booked at the end of qualifying, so it’s a nice problem to have.”
With her success, Raducanu continued a breakout tournament for teenagers by joining Leylah Annie Fernandez in the semi-final. The pair are only two months apart in age and Raducanu says she has known the Canadian since they were competing in Under-12 tournaments. Yet as she was asked about her, Raducanu stressed that each player is on their own path.
“I think to compare yourself and your results against anyone is probably like the thief of happiness, and everyone is doing their own thing. I mean, I didn’t compete for 18 months, but here I am, and it just shows that, if you believe in yourself, then anything is possible.”