TENNIS

Three teenagers steal the US Open limelight

All eyes are on Novak Djokovic as he seeks his 21 Grand Slam title, but three youngsters have attracted most of the attention so far at Flushing Meadows.

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Three teenagers steal the limelight at the US Open

Some months ago, the names of Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, Ash Barty or Serena Williams would have likely been at the top of the list of candidates to win the US Open 2021.

However, injuries have prevented the big guns from taking part in the last of the four Grand Slam tournaments of the year while world number one Barty fell in round three.

Despite their absence, there are other powerful and eye-catching players, such as Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev or Matteo Berretini. However, tennis, as with sport in general, is unpredictable and three very talented (but also very young) players have risen to the occasion: Carlos Alcaraz, Leylah Fernandez and Emma Raducanu.

Alcaraz: a Rafa Nadal in the making?

The 18-year-old Spaniard became the youngest male quarterfinalist at Flushing Meadows in the Open era after beating Peter Gojowczyk in five sets, (5-7, 6-1, 5-7, 6-2, 6-0) on Sunday.

With victory over the German player, Alcaraz became the youngest man in a Grand Slam quarterfinal since an 18-year-old Michael Chang at the 1990 French Open. He is the youngest to reach the same round in New York since Thomaz Koch 58 years ago.

Alcaraz, who had previously shocked the tennis world by defeating third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets, said that this triumph was “a dream come true”.

“It’s really tough to play these kind of matches, to play fifth sets. I hope to play more second weeks, to play more quarterfinals of Grand Slams”, he added, showing a lot of maturity inside and outside the court.

It’s no secret that Alcaraz, 18, seems destined to do great things in the future and many players, such as Dominic Thiem or Gojowczyk himself, have already said that the Spaniard will be a superstar in the future.

Fernandez and Raducanu, the other rebel teenagers

Leylah Fernandez was a massive underdog against one of the main favorites to win the tournament, Naomi Osaka, but the Canadian player didn’t seem intimidated by playing against the fans' favorite.

She was 5-7 and 5-6 down, with Osaka ready to serve to close the match, but that was the turning point. Fernandez unleashed her best game, while the defending champion lost control. That cost her the second set in the tie-break and the third and final one.

But if the victory over Osaka wasn’t enough, Fernandez also surprised another top contender in Angelike Kerber also in three sets (4-6, 7-6, 6-2). Now she will face the consistent Elina Svitolina.

Meanwhile, Emma Raducanu probably thought that it was better to make it three, and also put on brilliant performances to reach the quarterfinals at the US Open. The British player had no mercy in her last two matches and has proven she is ready to fight for the title.

Raducanu thrashed the dangerous Sara Sorribes (6-0, 6-1) in a match where the Spaniard was expected to keep it way closer and after that she showed she was the real deal against Shelby Rogers, who beat top seed Ashleigh Barty 6-2, 6-1.

Raducanu, the youngest British player to reach the last eight in New York in the Open era, will play against the Swiss Belinda Bencic for a ticket to the semifinals.