Leagues and Governing Bodies

Next crop of tennis stars starting to make waves at U.S. Open

Leylah Fernandez, 19, toppled the third and fourth most successful active players in consecutive matches at the U.S. OpenGETTY IMAGES

The U.S. Open has "offered a peek at what tennis will look like after legends Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams move off center stage and center court," and it is "looking young, unpredictable and fun," according to Helene Elliott of the L.A. TIMES. Teenage players Emma Raducanu, Carlos Alcaraz and Leylah Fernandez all advanced to the quarterfinals. American Jenson Brooksby, 20, "made some noise about joining them, too, when he won the first set against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and stayed with him" into the second set Monday night (L.A. TIMES, 9/7). In London, Tumaini Carayol notes this U.S. Open started with the pre-tournament withdrawals of Federer, Nadal and Williams, a "reminder of a generation soon to depart," but the "youthful charge in the following weeks have underlined the thrills to come." The world No. 55 Alcaraz, who only turned 18 in May, is the "youngest men’s player in the Open era to reach" the U.S. Open quarterfinal. The No. 73 Fernandez, who celebrated her 19th birthday on Monday, "toppled the third and fourth most successful active players in consecutive matches." Raducanu, 18, "continues to conquer new ground." Their confidence is "both innate and supreme." It is "partly borne out of their youth, this fleeting period of their development where they are too young to grasp the significance of what they are achieving" (London GUARDIAN, 9/7).

GRAND OCCASION: Tennis Channel’s Lindsay Davenport said, “It’s been so fun to get to know some of these players that are the next generation. ... To have these really magical runs for so many of these players has been an awesome part of the U.S. Open.” Tennis Channel’s Jon Wertheim said "every single day" of this tournament, "we say, ‘What can the next day do to top it?’" It "just gets better and better" (“Tennis Channel Live,” Tennis Channel, 9/6). ESPN’s Jeremy Schaap said the remaining field at the U.S. Open "really underscores the depth of the women’s game." Schaap: "Here we are in the second week without Barty, without Osaka, without Serena, and it’s wide open. It’s been great tennis, and I think people are excited about seeing who emerges now.” Schaap added, “Even more remarkable is that there were people who were disappointed coming into this tournament, because of the people that weren’t going to be here. What we’ve seen has elevated the game and, I think, elevated interest” (“U.S. Open,” ESPN2, 9/6).

FAN FAVORITES: In N.Y., Matthew Futterman wrote with "howls of 'Vamonos!' coursing through the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday," Alcaraz "pulled off the upset of the tournament in knocking off Stefanos Tsitsipas." Alcaraz is "known as 'the next Rafa' in tennis circles, especially in Spain." Fernandez' win over Naomi Osaka on Friday sparked a "raucous night crowd" in Flushing Meadows. Meanwhile, Raducanu was "was barely known" before this year's Wimbledon, but by Thursday afternoon in N.Y., she had the overflow crowd on Court 10 "chanting her name" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/4). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Joshua Robinson writes Fernandez is the "breakout star of the U.S. Open" with the "swagger of a veteran major winner" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/7). In Toronto, Rosie DiManno writes the Big Apple has "taken a shine to the apple-cheeked teenager from Canada who’s spun and sliced and guiled her way into the quarterfinals." N.Y. is "in thrall, as is pretty much everyone else who’s watched" Fernandez knock off two former world No. 1s (TORONTO STAR, 9/7). Tennis Channel's Davenport said of Fernandez, “Have you ever seen an 18-year-old -- now 19-year-old -- use the crowd this well? She’s not even from the United States and she had them wrapped around her finger” (“Tennis Channel Live,” Tennis Channel, 9/6).

CAUTIONARY TALES: The TIMES' Fetterman in a separate piece writes while Raducanu, Fernandez and Alcaraz are "experiencing the best of tennis life," they "do not have to look far to see how quickly it can all go off the rails." By now it is "accepted wisdom" that tennis has a "tendency to eat its young like few other sports." Managing life as a young star on the tennis tour is a "physical and mental test that trips up nearly every player at some point.' Despite the cautionary tales, it is "nearly impossible not to be swept up in the excitement of watching new talent burst onto the scene at one of the biggest showcases in sports." It is a "breathless experience that tennis has long thrived on" (N.Y. TIMES, 9/7).

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