Move over Maria Sharapova, a new tennis star has arrived, her name is Amanda Anisimova. Represented by the same agent as Sharapova, the American-born Anisimova stunned defending champion Simona Halep 6-2, 6-4 in just 69 minutes to reach her first career Grand Slam semifinal.
The 17-year-old Anisimova dominated early storming out to a 6-2, 3-0 lead before the Romanian made a charge. But Anisimova’s length and backhand was too tough, and Halep, who had won her last 11 at Roland Garros, was helpless under the constant attack.
Ranked No. 51, Anisimova had never won a Slam match until this year.
“I don’t think it will sink in, at least not for today,” Anisimova said. “I mean, it’s crazy. I really can’t believe the result today. And getting the opportunity to play against Simona, that’s amazing, but how it ended is even crazier to me.”
Anisimova, who also made the Australian fourth round, has reached the last four without dropping a set. And she becomes the youngest player to make a Slam semifinal since 17-year-old Nicole Vaidisova at the 2007 Australian Open.
“I have been playing very well. But today I knew I had to do something different, because playing against Simona, I mean, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy,” Anisimova added.
“She’s an amazing athlete and player. I was just trying to show my best tennis and trying to play different from what I normally play, because I knew I had to do something a little bit different just to get the win.
“I just played the best tennis of my life. I don’t know how, and I don’t know how I did it, but it just happened.”
Halep’s exit left no former Grand Slam champions left in the field. And she hasn’t won any titles since last summer.
“I think she played great,” Halep said. “I think that I have done everything I could today and this tournament, I’m happy with the result.
“It’s not bad at all to make quarterfinals at a Grand Slam. Coming as a defending champion, the pressure was on.
“But I think I had good matches, and I’m leaving this tournament with positive thoughts.”
As Anismova’s upset was happening, Ash Barty was outplaying 2018 semifinalist Madison Keys. Barty, who made the Australian Open quarterfinals, eased past the error-prone Keys 6-4, 7-5.
“I think that’s probably close to my best match that I have played over the last month, I think, on the clay. For all of one little blemish there trying to serve out the match in the first time,” said Barty who served it out on the second time of asking.
“It was a really clean match. I felt like I was in control. I got the balls I wanted, and I was able to put the balls in difficult positions for Maddie. Really, really happy with how we went about it.”
Barty is the first Australian semifinalist at the French in three years since Sam Stosur.
“I think today I actually felt like I had a better mix of slice and topspin, as probably to my other matches. My other matches I have been a little slice heavy. It was important today to try to mix that up a little bit more,” she added.
“It’s a shot that I love to use as much as I can to my advantage. If I put it in the right positions, I know it’s tough for my opponents to go anywhere but back to that spot.
“I felt like I used it well today, but also thought I served very well today to allow myself to be in control of a lot of the points.”
Keys meanwhile piled up 26 unforced errors and couldn’t find the mark on Barty’s serve.
So tomorrow, Barty will take on Animisova and Johanna Konta will meet 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova. Of the four, only Konta has been to a Grand Slam semifinal before (in Australian and at Wimbledon). And all four are first-time semifinalists in Paris.
“Even though it’s a first time for a few of us, and Jo has obviously had some exposure to semifinals before, you can’t take absolutely anything away from them,” Barty said. “They have played amazing tennis.
“Even though they don’t have a seeding next to their name necessarily doesn’t mean they’re any less of a player.
“I think they have played an incredible tournament obviously to be in this position, and they’re enjoying it. I think it’s an opportunity for all four of us to go out there and try and continue that.”
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