By Ros Satar, at Roland Garros

  • Ashleigh Barty [8] v Amanda Anisimova | First meeting
PARIS, FRANCE – Amanda Anisimova stunned defending champion Simona Halep and will face Ashleigh Barty in the semi-final

 

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Ashleigh Barty [8] v Amanda Anisimova | First meeting

The biggest news of the day apart from the fact that we had a full day’s play after Wednesday’s washout, was that defending champion Simona Halep was sent packing from the tournament in straight sets by a free-hitting Amanda Anisimova.

Amanda Anisimova in the fourth round of Roland Garros 2019, France

Amanda Anisimova in the fourth round of Roland Garros 2019, France | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Having dispatched one teen in Iga Swiatek for the loss of just one game, Halep was the overwhelming favourite to deliver another tutorial to an admittedly talented teen, but the script did not quite go to plan.

The match started off very evenly, but it would be the defending champion who faltered at the first sign of pressure, falling to the first break point, and although Halep brought up a chance of her own in the next game, she could not covert to redress the balance. She fended off two set points, but Anisimova kept pressing to grab the set on her third try.

From that point the stars were aligning for the young American as she swiftly built up a 3-0 lead with just the merest hint of tightness in that serving arm at 4-2, giving Halep a glimmer of hope. The Romanian broke back and for a moment it looked as though the comeback was on – but it was a false hope as Anisimova sealed her spot in the semi-finals with just one match point.

Anisimova knew she would have to produce something spectacular to get past a defending champion, and a former World No. 1.

She said: “Getting the opportunity to play against Simona, that’s amazing, but how it ended is even crazier to me.

“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. 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.”

 

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Madison Keys in the fourth round of Roland Garros 2019, France

Madison Keys in the fourth round of Roland Garros 2019, France | Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

There would be no second straight semi-final for Madison Keys. The American had largely flown under the radar this year, and in fairness so had Ashleigh Barty. There was little to separate the pair in the first set, with the Aussie breaking at the end of the set and battling over four set points to take the lead.

In the second set things were a little more edgy with Keys pegging Barty back after losing her serve, but the Aussie hit back straight away, going on to serve for the match to love.

“I think that’s probably close to my best match that I have played over the last month, I think, on the clay. Yeah, I mean, for all of one little blemish there trying to serve out the match in the first time.

“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.”

With both now having their best showing at any Slam, to a certain extent they are both swinging free. Anisimova plays aggressively and looks like she would love nothing better than to batter the fluff off the poor defenceless tennis ball, but she showed against Halep that she could perfect her placement to leave the defending champion often scrambling forward at full stretch.

Yet against Barty she will have a far craftier opponent who will generate pace, angles and generally drive a being crazy. Neither player has made it this far in a Slam, so it is unknown territory for both. Experience just might win the day.

Prediction: Ashleigh Barty in three sets.

The Women’s semi-finals will be played at 11am (10am BST) on Courts Suzanne Lenglen (Barty & Anisimova) and Simonne Mathieu (Konta & Vondrousova)

 

 

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