Chinese influences boost Raducanu's historic US Open run
Emma Raducanu became the first qualifier to reach a Grand Slam final. Now the 18-year-old British sensation is one step from a historic US Open title.
And a major reason for her success is influence from her Chinese heritage and the example of Li Na, China's first Grand Slam champion.
Raducanu ousted 17th-seeded Greek Maria Sakkari 6-1, 6-4 on Thursday to book a berth in Saturday's US Open final against 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez, the first all-teenager Slam final in 22 years.
"I just can't believe it," Raducanu said. "A shock. Crazy. All of the above. It means a lot to be here in this situation."
"I wanted to be playing Grand Slams but I didn't know it would be this soon. To be playing a Grand Slam final at this stage of my career, I have no words."
Raducanu could become the first British woman to win a Grand Slam title since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977 and the first British woman to win the US Open since Wade in 1968.
But she has ties worldwide. Raducanu was born in Canada to a Romanian father and a Chinese mother before the family moved to England when she was 2.
"For me, having a Chinese mom, she definitely instilled in me from a young age hard work and discipline," Raducanu said.
It also helped Raducanu appreciate the qualities of Li's historic career.
"Her inner strength and belief definitely stood out for me," Raducanu said.
Raducanu recalled watching Li defeat Francesca Schiavone in the 2011 French Open final for the first Slam title to a Chinese player.
"The amount of mental strength and resiliency she showed, that match still sticks in my mind to this day," Raducanu said.
Raducanu won an ITF event in December 2019 in Pune that she called "probably my biggest title to date" but noted her US Open final run "is probably my biggest achievement so far."
"And I don't want to get ahead of myself," she added. "But there's all to play for on Saturday."
Raducanu is the youngest Slam finalist since 17-year-old Maria Sharapova won at Wimbledon in 2004.
She became only the second woman ranked outside the top 100 to reach a US Open final after unranked Kim Clijsters came out of retirement and won the 2009 US Open.
Raducanu could become the first US Open champion not to lose a set since Serena Williams in 2014.
The prodigy said she was unaware of reaction back home in Britain.
"Thank you to anyone who is following any of the results," she said. "I'm very appreciative of all of the support.
"Honestly, I don't realize what's going on back home because I've been so focused on what's going on here."