Emma Raducanu US Open 2021

STATS: Why the US Open is the playground of the underdog

Emma Raducanu’s victory at the 2021 US Open was one of the most remarkable stories in Grand Slam history, but it was also an extension of a recent trend at Flushing Meadows.

As revealed by Tennishead magazine, five of the past eight women’s champions at Flushing Meadows have been ranked outside the world’s top 10: Flavia Pennetta (ranked No 26 in 2015), Sloane Stephens (No 83 in 2017), Naomi Osaka (No 19 in 2018), Bianca Andreescu (No 15 in 2020) and Raducanu (No 150 in 2021).

The 2009 champion, Kim Clijsters, didn’t even have a world ranking at the time, as she hadn’t played enough tournaments since starting her comeback.

Recent history also confirms that the women’s events at all four Grand Slam tournaments are much more unpredictable than the men’s. Since the turn of the century there have been 20 female Grand Slam singles champions ranked outside the world’s top 10, compared with only eight men.

The average age of female Grand Slam champions has also been significantly lower than that of their male counterparts. Since 2000, the French and US opens have tended to produce the youngest women champions (average age of 24 at both tournaments), while the youngest men’s champions have been in New York, where their average age is 26 (Alcaraz in 2022 not included).

Among the men, the US Open is also the tournament most likely to produce first-time Grand Slam champions, with Alcaraz’s success continuing that trend. There have been nine since 2000, compared with only four at the French Open, three at the Australian Open and two at Wimbledon. Since the turn of the century, the French Open has produced the highest number of first-time Grand Slam women’s singles champions (11).

US Open underdog stats

(Statistics do not include the 2022 tournament)

Tennishead is the World’s leading tennis magazine packed full of in depth features like this and published 4 times per year in gorgeous print and interactive digital formats. Grab yourself a subscription and we’ll deliver to wherever you live (even if it’s Timbuktu!)

🎾 Free >> Join our legendary newsletter

🎾 Join >> Receive $700/£600 of tennis gear from the Tennishead CLUB

🎾 Social >> Facebook, Twitter, Instagram & YouTube

🎾 Read >> World’s best tennis magazine

🎾 Watch >> How to enjoy ATP/WTA/Slam tennis on TV

🎾 Shop >> Lowest price tennis gear from our trusted partner

Michael Graham, Editor, has been a professional sports journalist for his whole career and is especially passionate about tennis. He's been the Editor of for over 5 years and loves watching live tennis by visiting as many tournaments as possible. Michael specialises in writing in-depth features about the ATP & WTA tours.