Thursday, June 6, 2019

Anisimova, 17, stuns Halep to reach French Open semis

Amanda Anisimova, shown en route to the title in the $60,000 Sacramento
Challenger at 15 in 2017, shocked defending champion Simona Halep 6-2,
6-4 today to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal. Photo by Rob Vomund
   It might be Saturday, later this year or beyond.
   But Amanda Anisimova appears destined to win a Grand Slam singles title, probably sooner rather than later.
   Only 17, the unseeded Anisimova toppled third seed and defending champion Simona Halep 6-2, 6-4 today in the French Open in Paris to reach her first major semifinal.
   Anisimova, who hasn't lost a set in the tournament, became the youngest French Open semifinalist since 17-year-old Nicole Vaidisova in 2006 and the youngest American in the semis at Roland Garros since 14-year-old Jennifer Capriati in 1990.
   "I just played the best tennis of my life," Anisimova, who was born in New Jersey to Russian parents and moved to Florida when she was 3, said after facing Halep for the first time. "I don't know how; it just happened."
   The 5-foot-11 (1.80-meter) Anisimova, with nothing to lose, was more relaxed than Halep.
   "She was pretty calm," said Halep, who admitted she felt pressure defending her title. "She showed that she's able to do good things and big things."
   Anisimova won her first professional title at 15 in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger and her maiden WTA crown on clay in Bogota in April. She plans to play in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, July 29-Aug. 4 at San Jose State, for the second consecutive year.
   Anisimova qualified for last year's inaugural Silicon Valley Classic and extended eventual champion Mihaela Buzarnescu, a Romanian like Halep, to three sets in the second round before falling.
   Anisimova or Marketa Vondrousova, a Czech left-hander who will turn 20 on June 28, could become the first teenager to win the French Open since Iva Majoli of Croatia in 1997.
   None of the four women's semifinalists have reached a Grand Slam singles final, although Ashleigh Barty of Australia won last year's U.S. Open doubles title with CoCo Vandeweghe after losing in the doubles final once in all four majors.
   Both Vaidisova (2004-06) and Vandeweghe (2009, 2012) played for the now-defunct Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis.
   On Friday at 2 a.m. PDT (Tennis Channel), Anisimova is scheduled to face the eighth-seeded Barty for the first time, and 26th-seeded Johanna Konta of Great Britain will meet Vondrousova. However, the Paris weather forecast calls for rain in the morning and perhaps afternoon, then wind.
   Barty, only 5-foot-5 (1.66 meters), eliminated 14th-seeded Madison Keys 6-3, 7-5.
   Konta won the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in 2016, and Keys won the final edition of the tournament in 2017.
   Konta is 1-1 against Vondrousova. Their last meeting occurred only three weeks ago, with Konta winning 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in the Italian Open quarterfinals.
   The men's semifinals are scheduled to begin Friday at 3:50 a.m. (Tennis Channel). Second-seeded Rafael Nadal and third-seeded Roger Federer will renew their storied rivalry, followed by top-seeded Novak Djokovic against fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem.
   Nadal leads Federer 23-15 overall and 13-2 on clay. Djokovic is 6-2 (3-2 on clay) against Thiem. However, Thiem won 7-6 (5), 6-3, 6-0 in the French Open quarterfinals during Djokovic's 2017 slump.

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