PARIS — Until recently, Amanda Anisimova, a 17-year-old from the United States, had never played on the French Open’s showcase court, 15,000-seat Stade Philippe Chatrier, or reached the quarterfinals of a major.
That’s all changed now.
With a huge game and zero fear, Anisimova ousted defending French Open champion Simona Halep in straight sets Thursday at the French Open, known as Roland Garros, in Paris.
New Jersey-born Anisimova needed just 68 minutes to topple Halep, 6-2, 6-4, and advance to the French Open’s semifinals as the last American standing.
The reason “I didn’t look nervous is because I wasn’t,” said Anisimova, who will face eighth-seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia on Friday for a place in the French Open final. “I was just super excited, and I was really happy with the opportunity. I felt really good today.”
In her first meeting with Halep, a former world No. 1, Anisimova was a portrait of power, confidence and efficiency. She played in the French Open junior girls tournament just two years ago.
There was a sadly sparse crowd on hand to witness the biggest victory of her young career.
Wednesday’s rainout, in which not a single match in the tournament’s main draw was contested, created a logjam of matches Thursday and forced officials to move up the start of matches by two hours.
Halep and Anisimova, wearing identical Nike tops and skirts, stepped onto Chatrier at noon. With each knotting her long hair in a bun that sprouted atop a visor, only their five-inch difference in height made it easy to tell them apart. Halep is 5-feet-6; Anisimova, 5-11.
Later Thursday, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic will attempt to earn a spot in the semifinals when he takes on fifth-seed Alexander Zverev of Germany.
The other rain-delayed men’s quarterfinal will pit Dominic Thiem against Russia’s Karen Khachanov.
The men who advance face a tough slog, with the prospect of playing three best-of-five-sets matches in four days. They’ll contest the semifinals on Friday, while the other two semifinalists, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, will have enjoyed two days’ rest.