Barty, Anisimova, Djokovic reach French Open semis


PARIS, June 6: Australian eighth seed Ashleigh Barty reached her first Grand Slam semi-final as she outplayed error-prone American Madison Keys 6-3, 7-5 at the French Open on Thursday.
In a quarter-final clash postponed on Wednesday because of heavy rain, Barty produced an intelligent display full of guile in the Court Suzanne Lenglen sunshine.
Barty’s greater variety proved too much for 2018 semi-finalist Keys whose power game broke down at the vital moments.
A reflex backhand winner gave 23-year-old Barty the decisive break when Keys served at 3-4 in the first set.
Using her clever changes of pace, she provoked errors from the powerful Keys to break again at 3-3 in the second.
Serving for the match at 5-4 Barty wavered for the first time in the match, double-faulting and then netting a forehand on break point to hand Keys a way back into the match.
But the respite was shortlived. Keys dropped serve with a double-fault in the next game and this time Barty sealed victory to set up a semi-final clash with American teenager Amanda Anisimova who knocked out defending champion Simona Halep.
American teenager Amanda Anisimova stunned defending champion Simona Halep on Thursday to reach a French Open semi-final against Australian eighth seed Ashleigh Barty.
The 17-year-old downed Romanian star Halep 6-2, 6-4 on Court Philippe Chatrier, while Barty saw off 14th seed Madison Keys 6-3, 7-5 to also become a first-time Grand Slam semi-finalist.
The last-four ties will be played on Friday, after Wednesday’s downpour in Paris caused a backlog of matches.
“This is more than I could have asked for,” said Anisimova, who is the youngest player to reach a major semi-final since Czech Nicole Vaidisova at the 2007 Australian Open.
She is also 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.
“I knew if I wanted to win today I would have to do something different because it wasn’t going to be easy,” Anisimova added.
“I’m really happy with the performance because it’s one of the best matches I’ve ever played.”
Novak Djokovic reached his ninth Roland Garros semi-final on Thursday, sweeping past Alexander Zverev to keep his bid to become just the second man to hold all four Slams at the same time twice firmly on track.
Top seed and world number one Djokovic won 7-5, 6-2, 6-2 and will face Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem on Friday in what will be his 35th Grand Slam semi-final.
Thiem reached the semi-finals for a fourth successive year with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 victory against Russian 10th seed Karen Khachanov.
“It was a big challenge for me today but I was hitting the ball more cleanly,” said 32-year-old Djokovic.
“It’s a great joy to be in the semi-finals again.”
The problem for Djokovic now in his pursuit of a second title in Paris and 16th major is the weather.
Heavy rain is forecast to hit Paris again on Friday after Wednesday’s washout.
“I just have to keep my concentration and stay in the moment. I hope to continue like this,” said the Serb.
Friday’s other semi-final will see Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer resume their great rivalry, meaning this is the first time the top four seeds have all reached the last four at a Grand Slam since the 2013 Australian Open.