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Teens Leylah Fernandez And Emma Raducanu To Face Off At The U.S. Open Women's Final


All right, the future is here. And by here, I mean Queens, N.Y. And by future, I mean two teenagers who have never made it to a major final will meet at the U.S. Open tomorrow - Emma Raducanu of Great Britain and Leylah Fernandez of Canada. Joining us now to talk about the faceoff is Lindsay Gibbs, co-host of the sports podcast "Burn It All Down."


LINDSAY GIBBS: Thanks so much for having me.

CHANG: All right, so there are so many exciting elements to tomorrow's match. We got two teenagers, both unseeded. What else do we have here?

GIBBS: I mean, there's, just like you said, so much. Both improbable runs - Emma Raducanu from Canada. I mean, sorry. She is born in Canada but actually lives in England. She came through qualifying and has not dropped a set the entire tournament.


GIBBS: Meanwhile, Leylah Fernandez, who is from Canada, has taken out two top 5 players and two multi-time grand slam champs and former No. 1s on her way to the final - so just fairytale runs for both of them.

CHANG: Yeah. I mean, although both of them were unseeded going into this tournament, Fernandez - I mean, she had a much tougher draw to get to the finals, right?

GIBBS: Exactly. Fernandez definitely had the tougher matches, the tougher opponents and, you know, kind of has shown more fight and resilience, whereas Raducanu has - you know, like I said, it's been straightforward. She has not dropped a set, but she's played more tennis overall because she came through qualifying. So she had to win a few matches just to make it into the main draw.

CHANG: Well, walk us through their individual games here. I mean, they both move beautifully. They get to the net a lot. Who has the edge tomorrow, you think?

GIBBS: There is absolutely no way to say.


GIBBS: You can't count either one of them out. But they are - I think they're very similar with their games. Movement is phenomenal - athleticism, variety. And what strikes me most is just the fearlessness. We have just not seen either of them crack for a second. And of course, the pressure of the final will be something new. But I just think that, you know, it's going to be a real mental battle out there to see...

CHANG: Yeah.

GIBBS: ...Kind of who enjoys the moment and who loves the crowd the most.

CHANG: I'm so excited to watch this. I mean, we should note that Raducanu left Wimbledon early, saying it was because of the mounting pressure. What do you think of her being able to turn around her whole mental game for this tournament now?

GIBBS: I just think it shows a lot of maturity on the 18-year-old's part. And it's remarkable. And it helps that we're not in - we're not at Wimbledon, and we're not in London. So she's not in front of her home crowd. But I tell you, the New York crowd has just gotten behind both of these teenagers. They love them. So there's going to be a lot of energy. But I'm very curious who the crowd will pull for.

CHANG: So psyched for tomorrow. That is Lindsay Gibbs of the Power Plays newsletter.

Thank you so much for joining us today.

GIBBS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF OUTKAST SONG, "HEY YA!") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who hosts All Things Considered along with Ari Shapiro, Audie Cornish, and Mary Louise Kelly. She landed in public radio after practicing law for a few years.
Justine Kenin
Justine Kenin is an editor on All Things Considered. She joined NPR in 1999 as an intern. Nothing makes her happier than getting a book in the right reader's hands – most especially her own.