British teenager Emma Raducanu made history at the US Open on Wednesday after becoming the first qualifier to reach the semi-finals in the Open era.
Raducanu, 18, delivered another astonishing performance to defeat Swiss 11th seed Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4 inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. The victory also confirmed her status as the new British No 1 and the first woman from her country to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Sue Barker in 1975.
It represents the continuation of a remarkable few months for Raducanu, who was one of the standout stars at Wimbledon when, ranked No 338, she reached the fourth round. She has gone at least two better in New York by reaching the semi-finals and her ranking will soar to at least No 51 after the tournament.
"I have an absolutely amazing team," Raducanu said during her post-match on-court interview. "(Physio) Will is keeping me in one piece, and I have a team back home who could not be here - I am sure they are watching, I hope!"
Raducanu has now won 10 straight sets at the US Open - 16 including the three rounds of qualifying - and while wins over higher-ranked and more experienced players in previous rounds, including Shelby Rogers and Sara Sorribes Tormo, were impressive, the victory against Bencic was the biggest of her career so far.
The Swiss world No 12 arrived at the US Open in fine form after winning Olympic gold in Tokyo and took the early advantage by breaking Raducanu in the first game of the match. However, when trailing 1-3, the teenager fought back in stunning style to win five straight games and take the first set.
After fighting off break points early in the second set, Raducanu grabbed the vital advantage when she broke Bencic for a 3-2 lead.
She had to overcome some pressure moments, twice falling 0-30 behind on serve, but some wayward shots from Bencic and solid hitting from Raducanu saw her claw back to hold both times, the latter while serving for the match.
Raducanu brought up match point with her sixth ace of the match and she booked her place in the semi-finals, and in the history books, when Bencic sent a shot into the net.
"Of course, playing Belinda, she is such a great opponent and is in great form, she hits the ball so hard, I had to adjust and adapt and it was a really tough match," she said. "I am so happy to come through and thank you so much for all your support today."
Raducanu is the second teenager to reach the last four at Flushing Meadows this year following Canadian 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez, who defeated Elina Svitolina on Tuesday.
"To have so many young players here doing so well shows how strong the next generation is," Raducanu said. "Everyone is on their trajectory, so I am just here doing what I can control and it is my own journey."