Tennis

Amanda Anisimova, 17, dethrones holder Simona Halep

American sensation says she was not nervous and is eager to face Australian Barty in today's semi-final

American teenager Amanda Anisimova said she was "excited" and did not suffer from nerves, after stunning defending champion Simona Halep yesterday to reach a French Open semi-final against Australian eighth seed Ashleigh Barty.

The 17-year-old downed Halep 6-2, 6-4 on Court Philippe Chatrier to announce herself on the big stage, while Barty saw off 14th seed Madison Keys 6-3, 7-5 to also become a first-time Grand Slam semi-finalist.

"If I didn't look nervous, it's because I wasn't," said world No. 51 Anisimova, who is the youngest player to reach a Major semi-final since Nicole Vaidisova at the 2007 Australian Open.

"I was just super excited and I was really happy with the opportunity.

"This is more than I could have asked for."

The last-four ties will be played today, after Wednesday's downpour in Paris caused a backlog of matches, with the women's semi-finals held on Court Suzanne Lenglen and Simonne Mathieu to keep Chatrier free for the men's semis.

"Actually, I'm really happy that I get to play tomorrow," said Anisimova.

"I don't have to wait a whole day, because I get really eager to want to go on the court, so I'm happy I get to play tomorrow."

She is the youngest American woman to make the last four at a Major since Venus Williams at the 1997 US Open, and the youngest to reach the semis at Roland Garros since Jennifer Capriati in 1990.

The defeat for third seed Halep means it has now been 12 years since the last successful title defence in Paris - Belgian Justine Henin's third straight triumph in 2007.

Still, only five women have lifted back-to-back French Open titles in the Open era.

"I feel sad, because every time when I lose, I'm sad," said Halep.

"And I'm a little bit upset because I couldn't make my game. I couldn't move normally."

The winner of Anisimova's clash against Barty will face either Britain's Johanna Konta or Czech Marketa Vondrousova, 19, in the final.

It is the first time two teenagers have reached the semi-finals at a Grand Slam for 10 years, while it has not happened at Roland Garros since Henin and Kim Clijsters in 2001.

Halep believes that Anisimova could be a potential champion and the first player born in the 2000s to win a Slam title.

"I think she has a big chance if she's playing like today, without emotions and without thinking about the result."

Barty , 23, also won in relative comfort on Court Suzanne Lenglen to go one better than her run to the Australian Open last eight earlier this year.

World No. 8 Barty is the highest-ranked woman in the semi-finals, ahead of 26th seed Konta and the unseeded Anisimova and Vondrousova.

But she insisted it would not give her an advantage, saying: "As I just said, all four of us have been playing great tennis.

" It's a new situation for me. It's a little bit of a new territory."

In the men's semi-finals, Novak Djokovic will face Dominic Thiem, after Djokovic beat Alexander Zverev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 and Thiem ousted Karen Khachanov 6-2, 6-4, 6-2. - AFP

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