French Open semifinal preview: Ashleigh Barty vs Amanda Anisimova
Barty and Anisimova are both in their first Grand Slam singles semifinal (Getty Images/Quality Sport Images and Clive Mason)

French Open semifinal preview: Ashleigh Barty vs Amanda Anisimova

44 spots separate world number eight Barty and world number 52 Anisimova in the rankings, though this could well be an intriguing battle to decide who reaches the Roland Garros final from the top half of the women’s draw.

oliver-dickson-jefford
Oliver Dickson Jefford

Eighth seed Ashleigh Barty will take on rising American star Amanda Anisimova for a place in the French Open final, with both women heading into the biggest matches of their respective careers in strong form as they meet for the first time on Friday.

After their quarterfinal encounters were delayed by a whole day due to poor weather, both picked up impressive wins earlier today in their quarterfinal matches to reach a first Grand Slam singles semifinal for both. Barty overcame 2018 semifinalist Madison Keys, a player who always performs well in slams, in straight sets to progress, whilst Anisimova picked up an even more impressive win, downing defending champion Simona Halep in a clinical performance to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal at 17.

This match is set to start at 11:00 Paris time on Court Suzanne Lenglen, though there is a chance that rain may once again disrupt play. The winner will take on either 26th seed Johanna Konta or the unseeded Marketa Vondrousova in the final on Saturday.

Road to the semifinals

Before her win over Keys in the last eight, Barty had faced her toughest match of the tournament, prevailing over Sofia Kenin in three sets in the fourth round to reach her second consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal. However, before that the Australian had raced through the draw, beating Jessica Pegula, Danielle Collins, and Andrea Petkovic all without dropping a set. Clay is not the surface you would assume to be Barty's strongest, yet the Australian has excelled so far. 

Anismova celebrates after beating Simona Halep in the last eight (Getty Images/Clive Mason)
Anismova celebrates after beating Simona Halep in the last eight (Getty Images/Clive Mason)

If Barty’s progress through the draw has been excellent, then Anismova’s has quite frankly been exceptional. The American dropped just six games to Halep in a sizzling quarterfinal performance, and before that had downed qualifier Aliona Bolsova in the fourth round for the loss of just three games. Earlier on in the tournament, the teenager had also made light work of French wildcard Harmony Tan and 11th seed Aryna Sabalenka, who she also beat at the Australian Open, before overcoming Irina-Camelia Begu in her tightest match so far. Anisimova was recognised as a danger pre-tournament, and has lived up to that billing with a breakthrough run.

Analysis

For Anisimova, it seems her tactics will be very similar to those she has employed so successfully all tournament, particularly against Halep; attack at the earliest opportunity, bully Barty around the court, and strike at the appropriate moment. This could well work for the American against Barty who, though a talented player, cannot match Anisimova for power or aggression. However, the eighth seed is a very strong defender, and Anisimova should be wary of being drawn into length rallies, though must also be wary of the number of errors she makes.

Barty will likely use lots of slices to control play (Getty Images/Clive Mason)
Barty will likely use lots of slices to control play (Getty Images/Clive Brunskill)

Barty, as previously mentioned, probably cannot match her opponent for power, though does have many ways in which she can frustrate Anisimova. She is a very good mover and will look to frustrate the American, whilst she will also use several slices and drop shots, one of the strongest areas in her game, to move the teenager out of position and open the court up to kill off the point easily. She will also look to come into the net frequently, being one of the strongest volleyers in the sport.

Assessment

There are many determining factors that usually aid prediction making, though that is pretty hard to do in this case, with the two having never met before, and with both playing some outstanding tennis throughout the tournament.

Anisimova is a supreme talent, as shown by some of her victories here, though Barty is a very cunning opponent, and I think she has the ability to maybe take the match out of Anisimova’s hand. It could well be tight, but it seems that it will be Barty, the highest ranked women left, who reaches her first Grand Slam final.

Prediction: Ashleigh Barty in three sets

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