PARIS, France - 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova is into the first Grand Slam semifinal of her career after pulling off a stunning win over defending champion Simona Halep in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4.
Already the first player born in the 2000s, male or female, to reach a major quarterfinal, Anisimova is now the youngest semifinalist at this event since Nicole Vaidisova's 2006 run at Paris - and she’s done it without having dropped a set all fortnight long.
“I don't think it will sink in, at least not for today,” Anisimova told press afterward. “I mean, it's crazy. I really can't believe the result today. And getting the opportunity to play against Simona, that's amazing, but how it ended is even crazier to me.”
WTA Insider Live Blog: How Anisimova pulled off a Halep stunner at Roland Garros
The teenager, ranked No.51 in the world, made her way into the quarterfinal clash after an impressive run which includes a 6-4, 6-2 stunner over No.11 seed Aryna Sabalenka - Anisimova’s third career Top 20 win. And earlier in the season, she showed off her clay credentials to lift her maiden WTA title in Bogota.
Anisimova looked right at home on the cavernous Court Philippe-Chatrier against the No.3-seeded Halep, contesting their rain-delayed quarterfinal a day after it was originally scheduled. She was playing her aggressive style from the beginning and keeping the rock-solid Halep defense under attack, peppering in a few drop shots.
“I have been playing very well. But today I knew I had to do something different, because playing against Simona, I mean, I knew it wasn't going to be easy” Anisimova explained.
“She's an amazing athlete and player. I was just trying to show my best tennis and trying to play different from what I normally play, because I knew I had to do something a little bit different just to get the win.”
She added, “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.”
After a solid start, both players testing each other, it was Halep who was the first to blink at 4-2. Anisimova took advantage of an ill-timed Halep double fault, and grew in confidence to grab the first lead of the match. Anisimova reeled off the last four games in a row, powering to another break on the back of her booming groundstrokes - especially her favorite backhand down the line.
Anisimova proved to be just as methodical in the second set, breaking early and rapidly building up a 3-0 lead. Halep dug in her heels as the set progressed, however, and finally halted Anisimova’s runaway momentum to get on the scoreboard. She created three break opportunities a game later, but Anisimova kept her nerves at bay to hold for 4-1.
Two games away from the big upset, Anisimova’s level seemed to dip - creating a perfect opening for Halep to storm her way back in it. Disrupting the American’s rhythm by throwing in some high balls, Halep finally claimed her first break of the Anisimova serve at 4-3, and leveled the match a game later.
But Anisimova would not be denied, and she struck her 25th winner of the match to close out the battle on her first match point, wrapping up the 6-2, 6-4 victory in an hour and 10 minutes. The victory makes her the youngest American woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since 1997 US Open, when Venus Williams reached the final.
“I didn't look nervous is because I wasn't,” Anisimova admitted. “I was just super excited and I was really happy with the opportunity. I felt really good today, like, healthy, because early in the rounds I didn't really feel good.
“Playing tennis when you feel good is just really good. That's why I was really happy today to get to play healthy. 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."
Up next, Anisimova will take on No.8 seed Ashleigh Barty, the winner of the day’s second quarterfinal clash against No.14 seed Madison Keys, as she seeks a spot in the Roland Garros final.