French Open 2019

Anisimova - A star is born

American Amanda Anisimova, 17, celebrating after ousting defending champion Simona Halep of Romania from the French Open yesterday. Anisimova won their quarter-final clash 6-2, 6-4. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE
American Amanda Anisimova, 17, celebrating after ousting defending champion Simona Halep of Romania from the French Open yesterday. Anisimova won their quarter-final clash 6-2, 6-4. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Evert hails teenager who keeps nerve in dumping champion Halep out in last eight

PARIS • Simona Halep's shock quarter-final loss to American teenager Amanda Anisimova yesterday illustrated again that the Roland Garros title is the hardest of all the Grand Slams to defend.

Since 1945, there have been back-to-back women's champions in Paris on only 11 occasions.

Halep's 6-2, 6-4 loss to 17-year-old Anisimova means that only Margaret Court, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles and Justine Henin have successfully defended the French Open women's title in the Open era.

Henin was the most recent - and that was 12 years ago.

"Nerves a little bit," said the Romanian third seed when asked to assess her defeat.

"Stressed because I felt that I'm playing well, and maybe my expectations for myself were big today.

"Maybe I couldn't handle the tension in my body so I couldn't play my best and I couldn't move at my best level."

Halep believes that Anisimova could even be a potential champion and become the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam title.

"I think she has a big chance if she's playing like today without emotions and without thinking about the result," she added.

"She was pretty calm. She showed that she's able to do big things so I think she has a chance."

Halep, 27, will now turn her attentions to Wimbledon where her best run remains a semi-final spot in 2014. "Hopefully I can make a good result. But no pressure. This year is a 'chill' year for me," she said.

In the last four today, Anisimova will meet Australian eighth seed Ashleigh Barty, who saw off 14th seed Madison Keys 6-3, 7-5 to also become a first-time Grand Slam semi-finalist.

"This is more than I could have asked for," said Anisimova, who is the youngest player to reach a Slam semi-finals since Czech Nicole Vaidisova at the 2007 Australian Open.

She is also the youngest American woman to make the last four at a Slam since Venus Williams at the 1997 US Open, and the youngest to reach the semis at Roland Garros since Jennifer Capriati in 1990.

"I knew if I wanted to win today I would have to do something different because it wasn't going to be easy," Anisimova added.

"I'm really happy with the performance because it's one of the best matches I've ever played."

The winner of Anisimova's clash against Barty - who once quit tennis to play cricket - will face either Britain's Johanna Konta or Czech 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova in the final tomorrow.

It is the first time two teenagers have reached the semi-finals at a Slam for 10 years, while it had not happened at Roland Garros since Henin and Kim Clijsters in 2001.

Anisimova crushed 25 winners past a bewildered Halep, who made 17 unforced errors and served two double faults. Her impressive performance earned her praise from tennis great Evert.

"Look at this young lady, 17 years old, a star is being born right now," the seven-time French Open champion said on Eurosport. "Her idol is Maria Sharapova. She plays like Maria Sharapova."

In the men's quarter-finals, Novak Djokovic swept past Alexander Zverev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 to set up a meeting against Dominic Thiem.

Djokovic is in his ninth Roland Garros semi-final and aiming to become just the second man to hold all four Slams at the same time.

Thiem, last year's losing finalist, powered past Russian 10th seed Karen Khachanov 6-2, 6-4, 6-2.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 07, 2019, with the headline 'Anisimova - A star is born'. Print Edition | Subscribe