Anisimova offers thrilling glimpse of the future


PARIS (Reuters) – Roland Garros got a thrilling glimpse of the future of women’s tennis on Thursday when free-hitting teenager Amanda Anisimova romped into the French Open semi-finals, demolishing champion Simona Halep for the loss of only six games.

Super-intelligent on court, with a mind as fast as her backhand is weighty, the 17-year-old American took to the court as the first tennis player, male or female, born in the 2000s to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final.

It took her only 69 minutes to punch through the world number three.

After such an assured performance, tennis fans might expect a multitude of milestones and records to fall in the coming months and years.

But for now, Anisimova just wants to get back on court. And fast.

A washout on Wednesday means no rest day, with semis on Friday and a potential title match on Saturday. Exactly how the teenager likes it.

“I’m just really happy that I get to play tomorrow,” she smiled. “I don’t have to wait a whole day, because I get really eager to want to go on the court.”

Because of the day lost to rain, tournament organisers are using three showcourts for the showdowns, staging the women’s semi-finals, at the same time, on both Court Suzanne Lenglen and the new Paris jewel Court Simonne-Mathieu; while the men’s semi-finals will take place back-to-back on Court Philippe Chatrier.

“Doesn’t really matter,” she breezily said. “They’re all beautiful courts. Whatever court they put me on to play in, I’m going to be happy. They are all amazing courts.”

Anisimova is scheduled to play eighth seed Ashleigh Barty on Lenglen, after the Australian defeated Anisimova’s compatriot Madison Keys.

With the other half of the draw being contested by Britain’s Johanna Konta and 19-year-old Marketa Vondrousova, Roland Garros is guaranteed to provide a ninth different Grand Slam champion in the last 10 Grand Slams. 

If Anisimova can play with the same abandon over the next two days, few would bet against her. Certainly she seemed to bear out the belief that younger players feel fewer nerves, and against Halep moments of tightness appeared to be very few.

“I didn’t look nervous because I wasn’t. I was just super excited, and I was really happy with the opportunity,” she said.

“I felt really good today, like, healthy, because early in the rounds I didn’t really feel good. And to have this opportunity, I mean, it’s just amazing. That’s why I was playing really well in the first set. But in the second set I was, like, ‘Oh, I have to do it again,’” she smiled.

“I’m just letting it all just kick in a little bit. I’m just really happy with everything that’s been happening. I don’t try to think about the future.

“I don’t know. I just played the best tennis of my life. I don’t know how, and I don’t know how I did it, but it just happened.”