Amanda Anisimova couldn’t believe it as she flung her racket behind her. Couldn’t believe that last backhand landed for a winner. Couldn’t believe she was a winner, over the defending champion in the French Open quarterfinals.
Anisimova, a 17-year-old born to Russian immigrants in Freehold Township, N.J., bossed Simona Halep around Court Philippe Chatrier, 6-2, 6-4, becoming the first singles player born in the 2000s to make a Grand Slam semifinal on Friday. She was already the first to make a fourth round and a quarterfinal.
“This is honestly more than I could ask for,” she said in an-court interview afterward, according to media in Paris. “I’ve been working so hard, but I didn’t think it would pay off like this.”
Anisimova called it one of the best matches she’s played. It was undoubtedly the biggest match. She had never faced a player ranked as high as No. 3 Halep.
She plays the highest seed left, No. 8 Ashleigh Barty of Australia, in Friday’s semifinals. Barty denied an all-American semifinal by ousting No. 14 Madison Keys 6-3, 7-5, on Thursday. The other semi pits No. 20 Jo Konta of Great Britain against unseeded, 19-year-old Czech Marketa Vondrousova. None of the final four have ever reached a Grand Slam final.
Anisimova had the longest odds of them all at the start of the tournament, 100 to 1 via Ladbrokes.
“She will be in the top soon, because she has, you know, the game,” said Halep, who broke her opponents’ serve 16 straight times coming into Thursday. Anisimova then held serve her first seven games. Halep broke just once in seven tries for the match.
Anisimova became the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist since Nicole Vaidosova at the 2007 Australian Open. The youngest U.S. Grand Slam semifinalist since Venus Williams at the 1997 U.S. Open. The youngest U.S. French Open semifinalist since a 14-year-old Jennifer Capriati in 1990.
Promise has shadowed her for years. In the junior division, Anisimova was the 2016 French Open runner-up and 2017 U.S. Open champion. She made her Grand Slam main-draw debut at the 2017 French Open as a 15-year-old.
“I don’t really feel pressure. I only feel pressure if I put it on myself,” she said on Tennis Channel. “But, honestly, the only thing that motivates me is when people don’t believe in me.”
(1) Novak Djokovic – (5) Alexander Zverev (Thursday)
(4) Dominic Thiem – (10) Karen Khachanov (Thursday)
(3) Roger Federer def. (24) Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (4), 4-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4
(2) Rafael Nadal def. (7) Kei Nishikori, 6-1, 6-1, 6-3
(8) Ashleigh Barty def. (14) Madison Keys, 6-3, 7-5
Amanda Anisimova def. (3) Simona Halep 6-2, 6-4
(26) Jo Konta def. (7) Sloane Stephens, 6-1, 6-4
Marketa Vondrousova def. (31) Petra Martic, 7-6 (1), 7-5
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