Tennis: Holder Halep blown out of French Open by US teenager Anisimova, who plays Barty for final spot

Simona Halep (right) was knocked out of the French Open 6-2, 6-4 by 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova.
Simona Halep (right) was knocked out of the French Open 6-2, 6-4 by 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova.PHOTO: REUTERS

PARIS (REUTERS) - Teenage sensation Amanda Anisimova blew defending champion Simona Halep out of tennis' French Open 6-2, 6-4 in a quarter-final shock on Thursday (June 6), setting her sights on the Suzanne Lenglen Cup in a wide-open draw.

Third seed Halep, who had been looking to become the first woman to retain her title at Roland Garros since Belgian Justine Henin won three times in a row from 2005 to 2007, never found a solution to counter the 17-year-old American's beguiling mix of speed and accuracy.

The unseeded Anisimova, the first player born in the 2000s to reach the last eight at a Grand Slam, can become the first teenager to lift the trophy here since Iva Majoli of Croatia prevailed in 1997.

She next faces Australian eighth seed Ashleigh Barty, who beat American 14th seed Madison Keys 6-3, 7-5 in the day's other rescheduled quarter-final after Wednesday's complete washout.

"This is honestly more than I could ever have asked for," Anisimova, who won her first career title at tour-level on the Bogota clay in April, said on court at the finish. "That was one of the best matches I have ever played.

"Going out there today, I knew that if I wanted it I had to give something different."

She got off to a rousing start, playing fearlessly to open a 4-2 lead with the first break, and then steal Halep's serve again to bag the opening set in under half an hour.

 
 
 
 

With balls leaving her racket at bullet speed, Anisimova kept the pressure on, sometimes drawing her opponent to the net before finishing off the point with passing shots. Basic, but brutally efficient.

In a half-empty stadium, ticket holders having opted for an early lunch before the men's semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev, a few "Simona, Simona!" chants came down from the stands, as Halep finally won a game having lost seven in a row.

Anisimova was 3-1 up and Halep had break points, only for the American to see them off, finding unpredictable angles that left the Romanian often unbalanced.

But Halep broke back in the seventh game when Anisimova overplayed a backhand down the line.

The teenager showed signs of nerves at 4-4 but Halep failed to convert a break point and her failed efforts to get back into the contest proved costly, as Anisimova wrapped it up with her 25th winner.