Emma Raducanu has won the hearts of the nation by storming through the US Open to reach the women’s final.
She is the youngest British tennis player to reach the US Open final in the Open era – and, if she takes victory tonight, will become the first British woman to win a grand slam in 44 years.
Raducanu faces fellow teenager Leylah Fernandez at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York.
But who is the young tennis star and what does the future hold for her?
Raducanu, whose parents are Romanian and Chinese, was born in Canada and later moved to Bromley, London, where she is a student at Newstead Wood.
She started playing tennis at the age of five and during her junior career she peaked at a world ranking of 20.
When she arrived at Wimbledon earlier this year, fresh from her A-levels, Raducanu was an unknown wildcard ranked a lowly 338 in the world and with just one WTA Tour-level match under her belt.
A spectacular run, which saw her become the youngest British woman to reach Wimbledon’s second week since 1959, ended when was forced to retire against Australian Ajla Tomljanovic after suffering breathing difficulties.
Her Wimbledon exploits saw her leap to 179 in the world rankings and she is currently at 150.
Her performances in New York have guaranteed she will rise to at least 74 when the rankings are next updated and another victory could see her overtake Johanna Konta and Heather Watson to become British number one.
Raducanu has won nine matches to the reach the US Open final – winning a total of 109 games and losing 43.
She had to emerge through three qualifying matches to even secure a first-round place at Flushing Meadows, beginning against Dutch opponent Bibiane Schoofs on August 25 and progressing all the way to the final just 16 days later by knocking out Maria Sakkari.
All nine of her matches have been victories in straight sets, winning 18 sets across the tournament, including qualifying, and losing none, with second qualifying round rival – Georgian player Mariam Bolkvadze – arguably proving her toughest opponent, taking eight games off her.
Her performance in America has wowed fellow professionals and pundits.
Former British number one Tim Henman branded Raducanu’s performance in the semi-final as “simply stunning”.
“She deserves all the credit in the world. On the biggest stage in our sport at every opportunity she plays on her terms. It’s incredible to watch,” he said.
Greg Rusedski, a US Open finalist in 1997, said he was “dumbfounded” by the match.
Martina Navratilova, the 18-time grand slam singles champion, knows a thing or two about making history.
She told Amazon Prime: “When you make history you do it at one level or two. Emma is doing it at so many levels.
“You can’t even think about the repercussions. We’ve been hyping her up but it’s happening. She’s backing it up.”
Virginia Wade, Britain’s last female grand slam winner at Wimbledon in 1977, described Raducanu as the “real thing”.
Wade told ITV’s Good Morning Britain: “I can’t tell you how exciting it is. We’ve been waiting such a long time for a British player on the women’s side to really come through.
“Every time you watch her you think she’s going to win every point out there. You don’t even get that nervous. It was remarkable.
“I’m sure she is the real thing, you don’t get someone head and shoulders above that often and I think she’s one of those. She’s stopping all her opponents in their tracks and she’s got an incredible future ahead of her.
“If it doesn’t happen on Saturday (win a grand slam) it’s going to happen sooner or later because she is really good.”
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Sue Barker says she has been in awe watching Raducanu at the US Open.
Barker, the 1976 French Open champion, told BBC Radio 5Live: “I’m pinching myself with what I’ve been watching. We all thought at Wimbledon this is star of the future but it might take her a few years.
“But to be in a grand slam final in her fourth tournament is absolutely incredible. She’s not just winning matches, she’s breezing it.
“They’re not even getting close to her. She is nerveless and staying in the moment, and that’s incredibly hard to do. I’ve just been in awe of what I’ve been watching.”
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