Two years ago, Emma Raducanu kept her education as a backup option because she was not sure if tennis was the perfect fit.

There are no more doubts for the British teenager as a fairy-tale run through the U.S. Open has taken her to her first Grand Slam final.

After a stunning fourth-round appearance in her Grand Slam debut at Wimbledon two months ago, Raducanu has shown her success was no flash in the pan by going even further at Flushing Meadows after beginning her campaign as a qualifier.

A triumph in the U.S. Open final on Saturday would see the 18-year-old become Britain’s top-ranked female at No. 24 in the world when the rankings are updated on Monday.

She started the tournament ranked 150th.

Raducanu credited trips abroad during her age-group tournaments for developing the confidence to succeed on bigger stages.

“When I started having results early on on those trips, it definitely was eye opening that I could do something,” she told reporters on Thursday.

“But I never really realized that I would take tennis as a career until maybe two years ago.

“Yeah, I always have my education as a backup. I was doing it alongside my tennis. I had options. I still do. But obviously, I’m a 100% in my tennis now.”

Born to a Romanian father and a Chinese mother, Raducanu said she was inspired by China’s two-time major winner Li Na while growing up.

Her biggest triumph until now was a 2019 title at an International Tennis Federation event at Pune, India.

She has now become the first qualifier — male or female — to reach a Grand Slam final and has done so without dropping a set in New York.

“I always had dreams of playing in Grand Slams but I just didn’t know when they would come,” she said, with her usual beaming smile on her face.

“To come this early, at this point in my career, I’ve only really been on tour for a month, two months since Wimbledon. It’s pretty crazy to me.

“I knew I had some sort of level inside of me that was similar to these girls, but I didn’t know if I was able to maintain it over a set or over two sets. To be able to do it and play the best players in the world and beat them, I honestly can’t believe it.”

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.