Thursday, June 6, 2019

The fascinating final four

Many years ago, a cute teenager with pigtails came on the scene and, for a while, made the great Chris Evert's tennis life miserable. Evert would later say of Tracy Austin: "I looked across the net, and I saw myself."

I thought of that this morning when I watched Amanda Anisimova work her geometrics on the court, all the while hitting laser-like shots into the corners--against Simona Halep. The 17-year-old, inspired by the 2018 French Open champion's backhand, has developed a backhand worthy of that inspiration, and today, she used it to take Halep out of the tournament. For a while in the second set, Halep appeared to be taking the contest into her own hands, and one couldn't help but suspect that the correlating activity--the inexperienced opponent would fade just as Halep staged her comeback--would occur.

But it didn't. Anisimova, faced with a resurgent Halep, brushed herself off and went at Halep again, this time sealing the match at 6-2, 6-4. As impressive as Anisimova's game was, even more impressive was that she stood on Court Philippe Chatrier....against the defending the quarterfinals--and she closed the match.

The teen's opponent in the semifinals will be Ash Barty, who won her quarterfinal against Madison Keys, also in straight sets. Anisimova will have her hands full as she goes against both Barty's athleticism and her impressive adaptability on the court. It is now clear that the Australian is a threat on all surfaces.


The other semifinal will feature Marketa Vondrousova and Jo Konta. Vondrousova's quarterfinal against Petra Martic was a splendid match to watch. Martic entered that match with a 4-0 record against the young Czech, but her history wasn't quite enough to take her over the line; Vondrousova defeated her 7-6, 7-5. This had to be a heartbreaker for Martic fans, and those who so wanted the best for her, after the injury woes she's had. (I was cheering for her, myself; she's a sentimental favorite of mine, and I've always enjoyed her game.) Vondrousova's rise has been dramatic, and will undoubtedly continue.

And then there is Konta, who--since her slump--has turned herself into a serving machine. Why more players don't do this is beyond me. Konta has always had the skills to play high-level tennis, but now she can exert so much more control. She thumped Sloane Stephens (last year's runner-up) off the court, 6-1, 6-4 in an hour and eleven minutes. Konta had first and second serve win percentages of 86 and 50, she hit 25 winners, and made thirteen unforced errors. It doesn't get much better than that.

Of the four semifinalists, only Barty, the eighth seed, is in the top 10. Konta is seeded number 26, and both Anisimova and Vondrousova are unseeded. It was only two years ago that an unseeded player, Alona Ostapenko, won the French Open.


jwr said...

Along with everything else I was extremely impressed with AA's footwork. It's always been good, but she can't have spent too much time on the red clay (that trickiest of surfaces) and today it was impeccable. I only saw her really reach for one ball....and she hit a winner. Scary times for the rest of the tour if the three H's (head, heart, health) stay committed and intact.

And on a slightly related note: Does anybody know if/when the women's semis/finals will be shown on tennis channel plus? That's the only outlet I have for viewing right now so hoping the matches will be there at some point!

Nondisposable Johnny

colt13 said...

Just a wonderful display by Anisimova. Halep didn't play badly at all.

Rankings with a title:

Diane said...

Johnny, the matches should be on TC+ at 5 am EST 😣. And yes, Amanda’s footwork was so on point.

Colt, I do think Barty is a bit of a favorite all the way around. She could flummox Amanda with slices and pace changes, but if Amanda can stay in the zone she was in today, it could go the other way. That was just an astounding performance.

Carl said...

She is sure to be a star of the future, and now probably the very near future. I think beating Barty might be a step too far right now, but I said that about Halep so what do I know?

Diane said...

Turns out you know much! And yes, it was a bit too much for her, but she’s the real thing, for sure.

Carl Upshon said...

It will be interesting to see how she gets on during the US hardcourt swing. Home ground, full of confidence and growing in stature week by week.

Diane said...