Second set: Raducanu 6-1, 5-3 Sakkari* (*denotes next server)
Raducanu races out to 40-love on her serve. Sakkari wins a couple of points to make it close but follows with her 31st unforced error to give Raducanu the game. The teenage qualifier from Great Britain is one game away from the US Open final.
Second set: *Raducanu 6-1, 4-3 Sakkari (*denotes next server)
Sakkari is coming apart, falling behind love-40 on her serve and triple break point down. She’s made nearly three times as many unforced errors (28) as winners (10). Raducanu wastes the first break point with a misfired backhand, then Sakkari saves the second with a timely 100mph ace, then the third after a forehand volley winner to settle a 17-shot exchange that drags both players all over the court. That matches the longest rally and it was surely the most entertaining point. Deuce. Next Raducanu rips a backhand early in the point that Sakkari can’t get back in play for another break-point chance, but Sakkari saves that one, too, with a forehand volley winner early in the rally. A Raducanu error gives Sakkari game point, but Sakkari follows with back-to-back unforced errors off her backhand to give Raducanu her fifth break-point chance of this service game. And Sakkari saves it with – what else? – a volley winner. Deuce number four. From there Sakkari rattles off a pair of quick points behind unreturnable 113mph and 101mph first serves for a long and winding hold of serve.
Second set: Raducanu 6-1, 4-2 Sakkari* (*denotes next server)
Raducanu coasts to the love hold in a brisk 90 seconds to stay out in front in this second set. An absolute clinic.
Second set: *Raducanu 6-1, 3-2 Sakkari (*denotes next server)
Sakkari double-faults for 15-30 and she’s two points from going down a double break, which at this point could be fatal. Now Sakkari makes her 25th unforced error to go double break point down at 15-40. Feels like effective match points. Sakkari saves the first with a well-placed 100mph, then outlasts Raducanu in an 11-shot rally for deuce. From there Sakkari pounds a 112mph ace, then holds after Sakkari makes a backhand unforced error from the baseline.
Second set: Raducanu 6-1, 3-1 Sakkari* (*denotes next server)
Raducanu cracks a 95mph ace out wide, double-faults for 15-all, then pounds a gorgeous forehand winner to settle a 11-shot rally for 30-15. Now Raducanu passes Sakkari with a backhand for 40-15 and that’s just too easy. And she crunches a 108mph ace down the center to back up the break with verve!
Raducanu breaks in third game of second set!
Second set: *Raducanu 6-1, 2-1 Sakkari (*denotes next server)
Sakkari goes down love-15 on her serve with her 20th unforced error (against just nine winners), then 15-30 for another pressure point. Now yet another Sakkari error off her forehand makes it 15-40, giving Raducanu two looks at a break point. And Raducanu capitalizes on the first as Sakkari misfires on the forehand again! That’s 22 unforced errors in all for Sakkari (and 12 off the forehand) compared to 10 for Raducanu.
Second set: Raducanu 6-1, 1-1 Sakkari* (*denotes next server)
Sakkari gets her teeth into a Raducanu service game when the young Brit double-faults for 30-all. But Sakkari follows with back-to-back unforced errors off her forehand side to let Raducanu off the hook.
Second set: *Raducanu 6-1, 0-1 Sakkari (*denotes next server)
Sakkari breezes through her opening service game of the second, punctuating the love hold with a 110mph ace down the middle.
First set: Raducanu 6-1 Sakkari
A 17-shot baseline rally breaks out and it’s Sakkari who blinks first, misfiring on a forehand for 15-0. Raducanu answers with her eighth unforced error of the set for 15-all, but rattles off two quick points for 40-15. Two set points for Raducanu. And she needs only one of them, hitting a 92mph second serve out wide that Sakkari can’t return into the court. The 18-year-old qualifier is one set from the US Open final!
First set: *Raducanu 5-1 Sakkari (*denotes next server)
Raducanu rips a backhand winner for love-15 and she’s three points from the first-set finish line. But Sakkari is able to serve her way out of trouble from there, pounding her first ace of the night en route to the hold to get on the board. Raducanu will now try to serve out the opener.
First set: Raducanu 5-0 Sakkari* (*denotes next server)
Raducanu backs up the break in style, rattling off four quick points from love-15 down. After only 15 minutes! Sakkari, trailing by two breaks, will serve to stay in the first set after the changeover.
Raducanu breaks in fourth game of first set!
First set: *Raducanu 4-0 Sakkari (*denotes next server)
Sakkari leaves the court during the changeover due to what appears to be a skirt malfunction. She double-faults to go down 15-30 on her serve, but follows with a service winner and a forehand winner for 40-30. Raducanu then comes to net and slots a nifty forehand volley for deuce. Now Raducanu uncorks a vicious backhand that Sakkari can’t return into play and she has a point for a double-break lead in this opening set! Sakkari saves it with a big forehand early in the point for deuce number two. Sakkaari hits a backhand winner on the next point then makes another unforced error for deuce once more. Now Raducanu stakes her second break-point chance of the game with a backhand winner … and Sakkari complies with her third double fault of the night. A dream start for Raducanu, who is two games from the opening set.
First set: Raducanu 3-0 Sakkari* (*denotes next server)
Sakkari opens with back-to-back forehand winners from the baseline on Raducanu’s serve for love-30, then Raducanu mixes in an unforced error to go triple break point down. But Raducanu saves all three of them with a little help from Sakkari’s scratchy forehand. That’s six break points saved in the Briton’s first two service games. And moments later Raducanu saves a seventh before serving her way out of trouble. A flying start for the 18-year-old qualifier!
Raducanu breaks in second game of first set!
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.”
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