Simona Halep remains the heavy favourite to retain her French Open title but there are a whole host of pretenders still hoping to prove otherwise. The latest opponent for Halep is the young American Amanda Anisimova, who plays in her first slam quarter-final on Wednesday.
Halep had a few struggles in her early rounds but has taken apart power hitters in her most recent two matches. She dropped just three games against Lesia Tsurenko but went even better against the rising Pole Iga Swiatek. She gave the youngster a 45 minute tennis lesson, breaking her every single time in the 6-0 6-1 victory. “I expected a very tough one, so I was ready for that, but it was much better than I thought. Every match is tough at this level.” Halep said. “Today I was really good on court, and I’m happy about that. Next round is just a big challenge to go through this tournament. It’s my favorite Grand Slam, so I will do my best.”
Anisimova may well have fancied her chances against Petra Kvitova in her current form but the absence of the Czech from her section of the draw created a gap, which she has expertly taken advantage of to make the quarter finals. She is yet to drop a set in four matches, most recently beating Aliona Bolsova Zadoinov. The American is now 2 for 2 on slam fourth rounds this year, having made the same round in Australia also. “I was a bit nervous, but when I was about to step on court I was able to push my nerves aside,” she said afterwards. “I think that really helped me, because I was just taking my time during the match and kind of, like, I was making effortless shots. So I’m really happy about that because I was, like, playing kind of relaxed even though I was nervous before the match. So I’m happy that didn’t kick in.”
Anisimova has a bit more experience than Swiatek so will be hoping to avoid falling into the Romanian’s trap when they take to the court on Wednesday afternoon. It’s still going to take a major effort to consistently hit big enough to rattle Halep on court. “I can’t describe how excited I am,” Anisimova said, clearly embracing the opportunity to test herself against the best on clay. “It’s amazing playing her. She won it the previous year. So honestly, I couldn’t ask for a better matchup. I’m just extremely happy and excited for the next round.”
Prediction – Simona Halep in straight sets