» Sports » PIX: Djokovic, Thiem to meet in semis; teenager Anisimova stuns Halep

PIX: Djokovic, Thiem to meet in semis; teenager Anisimova stuns Halep

Last updated on: June 06, 2019 21:17 IST
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Images from Day 12 of the 2019 French Open in Paris on Thursday.

Novak Djokovic

IMAGE: Serbia's Novak Djokovic celebrates his victory over Germany's Alexander Zverev in the quarter-finals of the French Open on Thursday. Photograph: Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters

Despite sending mighty serves crashing down from a great height, towering world number five Alexander Zverev could offer only momentary resistance to Novak Djokovic in Paris, as the top seed barged into the semi-finals of the French Open on Thursday in straight sets.

The 6ft 6in (1.98m) tall German had served for the opening set at 5-4 before Djokovic simply clicked it up a notch to steal that set 7-5 then romp through the next two 6-2, 6-2.

"He was serving very well, it was a big challenge for me to find the right returning position," Djokovic said on court afterwards. 

"I was 4-5 down, then I played five or six games perfectly, hitting clean balls. It was very windy but it felt good to play (after Wednesday's washout)."

So, business as usual for the man who hasn't lost a Grand Slam match since a last-eight loss here last year.

That disappointing defeat on a cold, darkening evening by Marco Cecchinato proved only a prelude to winning Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and January's Australian Open.

Thursday's victory over Zverev was a 26th consecutive one in Grand Slam action, and it will take a mammoth effort to end that run.

Dominic Thiem and Russia's Karen Kachanov, left, embrace after their quarter-final.

IMAGE: Dominic Thiem and Russia's Karen Kachanov, left, embrace after their quarter-final. Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

The man tasked next with stopping him is Austrian Dominic Thiem who, at world number four, is ranked one place higher than Thursday's victim.Thiem produced a clay-court masterclass to overwhelm Russian Karen Khachanov 6-2, 6-4, 6-2 and reach the semi-finals of the French Open for the fourth year in succession.

The Austrian fourth seed struggled early in the tournament but has warmed to the task and was far too solid for the 23-year-old Khachanov, who was unable to replicate the tennis he produced to beat Juan Martin del Potro in the previous round.

Thiem, runner-up to Rafael Nadal last year, hardly put a foot wrong throughout a one-sided contest.

Khachanov had won their only previous meeting, also in Paris but on an indoor hardcourt. However, Thiem on clay is an entirely different proposition and from the moment Khachanov struggled to hold serve in the opening game his prospects looked bleak.

The razor-sharp Thiem broke serve in the third game and never relinquished control, offering Khachanov not even a sniff of a break point throughout a clinical display.

Familiar faces occupy the bottom half of the draw with Roger Federer due to face Rafa Nadal in the first semi-final. 

Teenager Anisimova knocks out Halep

Amanda Anisimova

IMAGE: Amanda Anisimova celebrates after winning her quarter-final match. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images

Teenage sensation Amanda Anisimova blew defending champion Simona Halep out of the French Open 6-2, 6-4 in a quarter-final shock on Thursday, setting her sights on the Suzanne Lenglen Cup in a wide open draw.

Third seed Halep, who had been looking to become the first woman to retain her title at Roland Garros since Belgian Justine Henin won three times in a row from 2005-07, never found a solution to counter the 17-year-old American's beguiling mix of speed and accuracy.

The unseeded Anisimova, the first player born in the 2000s to reach the last eight at a Grand Slam, can become the first teenager to lift the trophy here since Iva Majoli of Croatia prevailed in 1997.

Amanda Anisimova

IMAGE: Amanda Anisimova can become the first teenager to win the French Open since Iva Majoli of Croatia prevailed in 1997. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images

She next faces Australian eighth seed Ashleigh Barty, who beat American Madison Keys in straight sets in the day's other rescheduled quarter-final after Wednesday's complete washout.

"This is honestly more than I could ever have asked for," Anisimova, who won her first career title at tour-level on the Bogota clay in April, said on court at the finish. "That was one of the best matches I have ever played.

"Going out there today, I knew that if I wanted it I had to give something different."

Anisimova got off to a canon start, playing fearlessly to open a 4-2 lead with the first break, and then steal Halep's serve again to bag the opening set in under half an hour.

With balls leaving her racket at bullet speed, Anisimova kept the pressure on, sometimes drawing her opponent to the net before finishing off the point with passing shots.

Simona Halep

IMAGE: Simona Halep serves during the quarter-final. Photograph: Clive Mason/Getty Images

In a half-empty stadium, ticket holders having opted for an early lunch before the men's semi-final between Novak Djokovic and Alexander Zverev, a few 'Simona, Simona!' chants came down from the stands as Halep finally won a game having lost seven in a row.

Anisimova was 3-1 up and Halep had break points, only for the American to see them off, finding unpredictable angles that left the Romanian often unbalanced.

But Halep broke back in the seventh game when Anisimova overplayed a backhand down the line. The teenager showed signs of nerves at 4-4 but Halep failed to convert a break point and her failed efforts to get back into the contest proved costly as Anisimova wrapped it up with her 25th winner.

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