The rise of Leylah Fernandez and Emma Raducanu “good for tennis and the WTA”


Emma Raducanu’s US Open final against Leylah Fernandez is an inspiring moment for women’s football, according to the coach and father of the young Canadian.

The duo will meet at Flushing Meadows on Saturday night in the first Teen Grand Slam final in over 20 years.

Raducanu and Fernandez are only two months apart and share an immigrant background, Raducanu being born in Canada to a Romanian father and a Chinese mother before moving to the UK at the age of two, while that Fernandez has Ecuadorian, Peruvian and Filipino origins.

Jorge Fernandez, a former footballer who moved to Canada when he was young, said: “I see they both bring a type of game that is not common on the tour right now.

“I see that they bring a flair that is very unique to them. I’m glad they reach out to the Asian community. I think it’s a huge opportunity in women’s football.

“I think it’s just positive for the game. Obviously, I want Leylah to win. That goes without saying. But I just think the match-up and what we see, these two ladies is touching a lot of young girls.

“I’m getting ‘Please pass this on to Leylah’ messages from little girls saying ‘You make us believe’. This can only be good for tennis and the WTA as a whole. “

Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez received huge crowd support
Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez received huge support from the crowd (Elise Amendola / AP)

Jorge, who learned the game on his own, has been Fernandez’s head coach since she was taken out of the Canadian system when she was young.

But he stayed at home in Florida instead of traveling to New York and will watch the final on TV.

“I am extremely superstitious,” he says. “My daughter is too. I used the same shampoo on game day, the same jeans on game day, I think the same socks and underwear. It took him to a whole different level.

“It has always been like this. This is nothing new. It works, so let’s not mess it up. The last time I made it to a final was Acapulco when she qualified for the final and she lost it. I hated myself for a good two months afterwards.

“She knows that I support her from afar. I have mentioned in the past that I am in her heart and she is in mine. When all of that is done, everyone who has seen it from the stadium is fantastic. But I’m going to watch her across the kitchen table when we go to dinner and we’ll be fine.

Fernandez had never made it past the third round of a slam before, but she pulled off a phenomenal giant kill streak, knocking out two former champions Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber and top five seeds Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka.

The scenario for the final is different, however, with Fernandez ending up as the most experienced and highest ranked player.

Jorge praised Raducanu saying: “Emma reached the final because she deserved the right to be in the final. No one gave it to her. What she did was also absolutely fantastic.

“If you focus on the fact that it’s a final, you’re up against another warrior in front of you, I don’t think age, who it is, or ranking should even matter.”

Raducanu is coached in New York City by Andrew Richardson, who was one of her mentor trainers at the Bromley Tennis Center and was chosen to accompany her to the United States rather than Nigel Sears, who guided her through to the fourth round. of Wimbledon.

Under the guidance of his father Ian, Raducanu sought advice and instruction from various coaches, dismissing the perceived wisdom that too many voices hamper development.

Coach Matt James, who oversaw Raducanu’s progress for two years until last fall, told PA News Agency: “It’s quite different.

“I was fortunate enough to do two years with Emma and we had different people come in, almost consultants and people who would give their advice, and that’s exactly what they wanted. Her father and Emma just wanted to know.

“She’s a brilliant girl and she can remember it and treat it, and almost see it as the more the better than hearing the same thing over and over again.” They stuck to their guns which you have to respect as it has obviously worked out well for them. “

James was part of Raducanu’s squad at Wimbledon and rubbed his eyes in disbelief as he watched his performances from home.

The Welshman is now the National Tennis Center coach for the Lawn Tennis Association, which supports Raducanu through its professional scholarship program.

He said: “Just immensely proud to watch her play and compete like she does. It’s almost too much now. Before the final, it’s almost too much to believe.

“Until then, it’s kind of like ‘Yes Emma is a pretty special talent’, but now saying out loud that she’s in a Grand Slam final is really weird and just more than we got ourselves into. were all waiting, I think.

“We knew tennis was there, but to continue physically and mentally for nine matches now (including qualifying) is just amazing for her and the team that is with her.”


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