Emma Raducanu is moments away from her US Open final as she hopes to make history as the first British woman to win a major in 44 years.
The 18-year-old from Kent will take on Leylah Fernandez, 19, in front of 24,000 fans at New York’s Arthur Ashe Stadium – the first women-only final at Flushing Meadows in 22 years.
At stake is a prize check of £1.8m – more than eight times Raducanu’s current career earnings – as well as 2,000 ranking points, which would lift the teenager from her current status of 150 to 23.
Raducanu, the first qualifier to ever reach a Grand Slam final, is backed by millions at home tonight after receiving acclaim for her semi-final performance from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and footballer Marcus Rashford .
She faces some tough opposition in Fernandez, who has been a massive slayer in Flushing Meadows, by knocking out defending champion Naomi Osaka, former US Open winner Angelique Kerber, fifth seed Elina Svitolina and second seed Aryna Sabalenka.
Despite her sensational run, bookmakers had favorited Raducanu on 4/7 – meaning a £10 bet would only return £15.70.
The match will be broadcast live on Channel 4 after a last-minute deal worth £30 million was struck with Amazon amid feverish anticipation among tennis-loving British public.
A ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of 9/11 took place before the pair took off, with a huge Stars and Stripes flag unfolding during a performance of the Star Spangled Banner. A stencil ‘9-11-01’ has been painted on the track.
Raducanu during practice in New York on Friday ahead of her historic clash with Fernandez
Emma Raducanu’s US Open final against Leylah Fernandez airs on Channel 4
Raducanu goes for an unthinkable triumph against the Canadian and fellow teen
Raducanu’s epic performances in New York have attracted a legion of new enthusiastic supporters
She insists she will not be a favorite for the final against Fernandez as she is just a qualifier
Raducanu match shown live on Channel 4 after £30m deal with Amazon under pressure to make historic event free to UK public
Emma Raducanu’s shot at US Open Glory will be available to watch on free-to-air television after Amazon Prime struck a deal with Channel 4 to share the women’s final on Saturday.
The 18-year-old has captivated the nation with her New York City exploits, taking on fellow teen Leylah Fernandez in the flagship show in hopes of becoming the first British woman to win a grand slam in 44 years.
Amazon’s Prime Video streaming service has exclusive broadcast rights in this country for the final grand slam of the year, but has struck a deal – according to the seven-figure PA news agency – to show the match on both Prime Video and Channel 4, which will maximizes viewing potential for one of the biggest sports stories of the year.
And it has pledged to reinvest that money in UK women’s tennis to help fund the next generation of players.
“Emma’s journey from qualifying to the US Open final at age 18 is a truly magical story for British sport and we believe it is important that we extend our coverage to as many people as possible to support her in this historic moment for women’s tennis . ‘ said Alex Green, director of Prime Video Sport Europe.
“Young tennis talent like Emma needs the right support to become the stars we see today and we are delighted to be investing even more in the next generation of women’s tennis in the UK.”
Channel 4’s chief content officer Ian Katz said: “Emma’s meteoric rise to secure a place in the US Open final is simply sensational.
“We’re thrilled to have partnered with Prime Video and pulled out all the stops to get it up and running and I’m sure viewers will be excited at the prospect of seeing Emma in this grand slam final.”
Oliver Dowden, secretary of state for culture, media and sport, praised the deal.
His statement read: “Tonight the whole country is behind British tennis sensation Emma Raducanu, so I’m delighted that Amazon Prime and Channel Four have heeded our call to watch this historic sports moment for free so that as many of us as possible can watch her tonight.” encourage.
“I applaud them for their swift work to make this possible and for the money involved in this deal going directly to women’s tennis in Britain to benefit and inspire the stars of the future .’
The atmosphere was great at Raducanu’s home tennis club in Beckenham, South East London, where a viewing party was being held – as they had done for her run at Wimbledon earlier this summer.
Harry Bushnell, who coached her from age six to ten, said: “As a coach, you want to coach someone who is going all out, so it’s the first time I’ve been involved with someone who’s come this far and it’s a great feeling.” .’
Speaking about the media pressure Raducanu has been under since her Wimbledon appearance, he said: “I’m obviously very protective of her, but I know she sees pressure as a privilege.
“I think she’s behaving very well. I know she kind of messed up the way it ended at Wimbledon, but I was always confident that she would get away from that, dust herself off and come back stronger.”
Since Virginia Wade won her most famous title at Wimbledon in 1977, a British woman has not even reached a grand slam final to date.
That the player who can deliver this feat is an 18-year-old taking her first real steps into the professional game makes this one of the most extraordinary stories in all sports.
Even in defeat, Raducanu would climb to 32nd in the standings, putting her in the running for her Australian Open debut in January.
She has already made at least £900,000 from the nine matches she has won in New York.
Fernandez is only two months older than Raducanu and the pair have known each other since competing at the under-12 level.
“We first met because I was born in Toronto and she was Canadian, so we kind of built a relationship then,” said Raducanu, who won their only previous encounter in girls’ singles at Wimbledon three years ago.
“It’s clear that we’ve both come a long way in our games and as people since then. I’m sure it will be very different from when we last met. But we both play good tennis, so it will be a good match.’
The couple has an immigrant background. Raducanu, who moved to the UK at the age of two, has a Romanian father and a Chinese mother, while Fernandez has Ecuadorian, Peruvian and Filipino ancestry.
The Canadian is coached by her father Jorge, who considers the final an important moment for the women’s game.
The former footballer said: ‘I see that they both bring a kind of game that is not common on the track at the moment.
‘I see that they bring a flair that is very unique to them. I’m glad they’re hitting the Asian community. I think that’s a huge opportunity in the women’s game.
“I think it’s just positive for the game. Of course I want Leylah to win. That is obvious. But I just think the match up and what we see, those two ladies hit a lot of young girls.
“I get messages about, ‘Please pass this on to Leylah’, little girls saying, ‘You make us believe’. This can only be good for the game of tennis and the WTA as a whole.”
Royals, tennis legends, world leaders and celebrities have praised ‘Teen Queen’ Emma Raducanu after she shot into the US Open final at the age of 18