Dyan Castillejo says Leylah Fernandez, Emma Raducanu made for greatness

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 16 2021 06:08 PM | Updated as of Oct 13 2021 08:51 AM

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Rising stars Leylah Fernandez and new US Open women's champion Emma Raducanu have achieved something special in the world of tennis.

Through their skills and charisma, the two players helped renew fans' interest in women's tennis.

"What they both achieved is just amazing," said broadcaster Dyan Castillejo, a retired tennis player, in an interview on ABS-CBN podcast "Post Game."

"They're just made for greatness and we're gonna be seeing those girls around for a long time."

The two came into the US Open unseeded and slew giants along the way before clashing in an all-teen final.

In the end, the British-born Raducanu took the title, while Fil-Canadian Fernandez settled for a runner-up finish. But they both came out winning the hearts of tennis fans. 

"Raducanu was ranked 150 in the world, prior to the US Open women's division. She didn't even get to the main draw because you have to be like top 105 to get in to the main draw. She went through to the qualifying round... She won seven matches in a row without dropping a set," said Castillejo.

She added that the No. 73-ranked Fernandez was equally impressive.

"In two weeks, Fernandez beat two former No. 1 players, Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber. Then she beat No. 5 Elina Svitolina and then she beat Aryna Sabalenka, the 6-footer, the hard-hitting Sabalenka," said Castillejo.

What's astounding about the two, said Castillejo, was their composure even while taking on more experienced and higher ranked players. 

She said such kind of attribute can only be acquired through experience. 

"It's too overwhelming to be in the center court in the final of the grand slam, but these two defied all odds. Everybody were flabbergasted: Where did these two come from?" said Castillejo.

"Normally (such composure) really doesn't come this early."

Castillejo also noted that Fernandez also endeared herself to New York fans through her demeanor and infectious smile.

"She's so feisty but in between points she'll break out into a smile, she'll raise her hand, pump her fist. She's so genuine, not showing any pressure and the way she showed no intimidation against these big guns in women's tennis really endeared her to the audience," she said.

Castillejo said Fernandez reminded her of Manny Pacquiao, who would always smile to fans whenever he makes his ring entrance.

"He just goes out there, did his all. He's usually the smaller guy. Like Leylah, she's just 5-foot-6. In terms of women's tennis, she's considered small, against Kerber, Vitalina, Sabalenka... and her frame is very small, she's underdog-looking in terms of size," she said.

"The charisma of Leylah really captured the hearts of the New Yorkers."

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