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Jun 7, 2019, 2:41:00 PM

Defending champion Halep out as Anisimova pulls off stunning upset

The stage was set for Simona Halep to return to where she won her first Grand Slam, and even end up back as world number one. All the other sports betting favourites had crashed out, and she was looking at an easy run to the final. At least she should have been, but the 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova was standing in the way.

Anisimova hails from a Russian background, but has confidently endeared herself to the hearts of her home country with some stellar wins across a Grand Slam run that has taken many by surprise. Nobody was more shocked than the Romanian Halep as she looked at the scoreboard and acknowledged her straight sets defeat.

The 6-2, 6-4 win underlined her dominance throughout. She never looked in awe of the situation until right at the end, when she smacked a backhand winner down the court to look on in disbelief at the magnitude of her win.

She is ranked 51st in the world, yet only the 8th seed Ashleigh Barty stands between her and a huge first Grand Slam final appearance. In fact, Barty is the only top ten player to reach the top four, with 26th seed Johanna Konta and unseeded teenager Markéta Vondroušová making up the other pair gunning for a final spot.

Anisimova admitted: “I don’t think it will sink in, at least not for today.” However, the delays to the schedule mean that she has little time to bask in her victory, and has to get straight back on court on Friday for another huge match against Barty.

Few are going to back her as favourite, and it seems as if Barty is firmly in the driving seat, but this has been a funny season in the women’s game, and predicting it has not been so straightforward. Very few players have managed two tournament wins, and unlike the men’s side offering up the top four seeds in the semi-final, this is a far cry from normal service.

This makes Anisimova less than the outlier she would be in those normal circumstances, and her getting the better of Barty would not seem as unusual as it might during other moments. On the other side, Vondroušová has been managing impressive feats herself, while Konta has surprised everyone in getting this far.

Whoever wins the final this weekend would not have been one of the top tips two weeks ago, and the chances of an unseeded player having their first triumphant moment is not impossible either.

Words: Danielle Nixon

Images: PA