Tennis-British qualifier Raducanu makes history by reaching U.S. Open semis

Sep 8, 2021; Flushing, NY, USA; Emma Raducanu of Great Britain gives an on court interview after her match against Belinda Bencic of Switzerland (not pictured) on day ten of the 2021 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

NEW YORK (Reuters) -British teenager Emma Raducanu produced yet another exquisite performance to become the first qualifier to reach the U.S. Open semi-finals on Wednesday, defeating Olympic champion Belinda Bencic 6-3 6-4 on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Down an early break, the Briton recovered swiftly to win four straight games to close out the first set in which she had seven forehand winners and three aces.

Like Raducanu, Bencic had reached the last eight without dropping a set in Flushing Meadows but on Wednesday she struggled with her first serve and misfired a pair of costly double faults in the opening set.

Raducanu maintained her momentum in the second set, fending off three break points in the second game.

A frustrated Bencic handed Raducanu a break with a double fault in the fifth game and her frustration boiled over as the match progressed, with the Swiss smacking her racket to the ground.

Down 0-30 in her final two service games, Raducanu kept her nerve on both occasions and soaked up the cheers of the New York crowd after triumphing in a nine-shot rally on the final point.

"Playing Belinda – she’s such a great opponent," Raducanu said. "Her ball speed definitely caught me off guard because she hits the ball so hard."

The 18-year-old, who reached the Wimbledon fourth round on her Grand Slam debut just two months ago, has so far won all 16 sets she has played from qualifying through to the semi-finals.

She is the second teenager to make an impact in the women's draw this week as 19-year-old Canadian Leylah Fernandez has also reached the last four.

"To have so many young players here doing so well just shows how strong the next generation is," added Raducanu, who delighted a number of young fans by taking selfies with them before she walked off court.

"Everyone is on their trajectory. I'm just here taking care of what I can control, and it's my own journey at the end of the day."

(Reporting by Amy Tennery in New York, additional reporting by Steve Keating, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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