Amanda Anisimova upsets Simona Halep at French Open

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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.”

Men’s Quarterfinals
(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

Women’s Quarterfinals
(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

FRENCH OPEN: TV Schedule | Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

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Chinese swimmer Sun Yang gets rare open hearing in doping case

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The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) said Monday it will hear the World Anti-Doping Agency’s case against three-time Olympic gold medalist Sun Yang on Nov. 15 in front of reporters — possibly even live-streamed — at the Fairmont Le Montreux Palace in Montreux, Switzerland.

The hearing won’t be completely open. Registration will be required, and photographers and videographers “will be invited to leave the hearing room after the opening,” CAS said in a statement. But those outside the room may still get a glimpse of the proceedings.

“With the agreement of all parties, it is intended to live stream all or parts of the hearing on the CAS website,” CAS said.

CAS noted that it has only held one prior hearing that wasn’t in a private setting — the 1999 case involving Irish swimmer Michelle Smith de Bruin, who won three gold medals in the 1996 Olympics but was banned for four years for tampering with a urine sample, a case that still prompts soul-searching in the Irish media. De Bruin lost the appeal.

Sun is accused of smashing a vial of blood at a drug test last fall. FINA allowed him to continue to compete, but the WADA has appealed, seeking a substantial suspension.

The Chinese swimmer won two gold medals at the world championships this summer and snubbed by some rivals at each medal ceremony, leading to a confrontation with British swimmer Duncan Scott.

RECAP AND VIDEO: Sun taunts Scott after medal ceremony

Sun has won 11 world individual titles in several freestyle distances but also has a long history of controversies ranging from a prior positive drug test and confrontations with other swimmers.

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U.S. women’s volleyball team ends year with surprise loss to Dominican Republic

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The Dominican Republic surprised the U.S. women’s volleyball team in the final of the NORCECA (North, Central America and Caribbean) women’s continental championship Sunday in San Juan, Puerto Rico, winning the first two sets and regrouping after a U.S. rally to win the fifth set.

The final score of the back-and-forth match: 25-19, 25-23, 15-25, 20-25, 15-9. The U.S. women had defeated the Dominican Republic in three previous finals: 2011, 2013 and 2015. The Dominican Republic won a semifinal matchup on its way to the 2009 title.

In group play, the U.S. team had beaten the Dominican Republic in straight sets. The U.S. also breezed past Trinidad & Tobago and Mexico in group play and swept past Canada in the semifinals.

The loss doesn’t affect Olympic qualification. The U.S. women had already qualified for the 2020 Olympics by winning a qualification tournament in August in Bossier City, La.

MORE: U.S. women rally to qualify

Semifinalists Canada and Puerto Rico qualified for a last-chance Olympic qualifier that the Dominican Republic will host in January. Mexico defeated Cuba in the NORCECA fifth-place game to be the last of the four teams vying for one spot.

The Dominican Republic has had some success in women’s volleyball, finishing fifth in the 2014 world championships and reaching the 2012 Olympic quarterfinals before falling to the U.S. The team also won this year’s Pan Am Games, to which the U.S. did not send its top players. Currently, the team is ranked 10th in the world.

Earlier this year, the U.S. women had defeated the Dominican Republic in two tournament finals — the Pan American Cup and the NORCECA Champions Cup. The U.S. also won a matchup in the World Cup last month, but the Dominican Republic won another five-set match in the Nations League preliminary round in Italy.

The U.S. finishes the year with a 44-7 record in tournament play, including a first-place finish in the Nations League and second place in the World Cup.

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