By Ros Satar, at Roland Garros

  • Defending champion Simona Halep bounced out at quarter-final stage
  • Scheduling issues brought on by sales of tickets for two men’s semi-finals
PARIS, FRANCE – It was ‘au revoir’ for Simona Halep as the New Generation sweep into the semi-finals, while weather and scheduling brew up a storm.

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Defending champion Simona Halep swept aside by Amanda Anisimova

Over the past few years the exit of incumbent women’s champions has given us great drama. First there was Garbiñe Muguruza, whose build up resulted in her declaring that she could not wait until this was over, so she would not have to answer questions about her title defence.

As it stands, her tearful demeanour gave way to one of the best put-downs of the tournament after losing in the fourth round in 2017. When asked about her opponent Kristina Mladenovic celebrating in Italian, she responded “I hear she speaks 25 languages or whatever”!

That year Jelena Ostapenko stunned Simona Halep in the final, who broke our hearts as she demonstrated she needed to take some time away, making a forlorn pushing motion away from the desk. The next year, justice was delivered as Halep finally got her Slam.

She told us in Stuttgart she was going to do every little thing that was thrown at her and enjoy the moment of being a defending Slam champion. Her progress started out a little shaky, taken to three sets twice before putting pedal to the metal and coasting through the next two rounds. She even joked that she felt old as she faced two teens back to back. The first was a lesson with Halep the teacher. The second teen, however, was a different story.

Amanda Anisimova could have been content with living the dream. She was further than she had ever been in this tournament, she was playing on Chatrier court and she was facing the defending champion, and former World No. 1. What could be better? Taking her to the woodshed, of course.

The teen admitted in her press that she knew she was going to have to change something, and she had Halep on the back foot from the end of the first set and kept that momentum. Halep could not sufficiently get going, and once she did, it was just too little too late.

 

Anisimova still has a couple of matches to go, but she is definitely one to watch.

 

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Scheduling woes

Is there any way for a tournament to win? We find ourselves with a ‘Fantastic Friday’ line up of four semi-finals. Yay? Well not quite. The weather tomorrow is planned to be atrocious.

Understandably now scheduling two women’s semi-finals that should have been played the day before means they can be placed on the two show courts of Suzanne Lenglen and Simonne Mathieu. They will start at the same time as they must be finished today, and it is the fairest way for them to have as similar time of recovery as possible (allowing for the length of the matches).

However, they missed their day on the main court with a day of playing catch up. With Johanna Konta and Marketa Vondrousova will have expected to play the semi-finals as scheduled on Thursday and found themselves with a day off.

Both Ashleigh Barty and Amanda Anisimova will now potentially play three days in a row, and batted away questions of outrage on the schedule.

Barty said: “I’m in a semi-final. I’m going to be ready to play. Yes, of course we would have loved to play on Chatrier.

“It’s a beautiful court. But in saying that, all four of us will be ready and prepared and go out there and enjoy it.”

Anisimova concurred with that sentiment: “Neither of them on Chatrier? I didn’t know that. Then where are they (smiling)? Well, I got to play on both — no, I didn’t play on Suzanne Lenglen. Okay, it doesn’t really matter. They’re all beautiful courts. Whatever court they put me on to play in, I’m going to be happy.”

There is no doubt that the organisers made a rod for their own back here, and US viewers in particular will suffer as the match will start in the early hours on a week-day. There is even a hint of the age-old issue of the women being pushed out to accommodate the ATP stars.

Either way, the most important thing is that the players get through these matches so that Roland Garros 2019 can have its conclusion.

Play starts with the women’s semi-finals simultaneously at 11am (10am BST), and the men’s semi-finals back to back, starting at 12:50pm (11:50am BST), weather permitting.

 

How to Watch/Follow Roland Garros

TV ITV4 (from May 26)

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