Halep plays generation game in Paris as big servers clash

Paris (AFP) –


Simona Halep looks to keep her title defence alive against American 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova on Wednesday as the Roland Garros quarter-finals conclude.

Anisimova is the youngest woman to make the last eight in Paris since Nicole Vaidisova in 2006.

In the day's other quarter-final, Madison Keys takes on Ashleigh Barty in a battle of the tournament's two most destructive servers.

AFP Sport sets up Wednesday's action at Roland Garros:

Madison Keys (USA x14) v Ashleigh Barty (AUS x8)

Head-to-head: 1-1

-- Australia's Barty is the only player left in the women's draw to have made the quarter-finals at the season's two opening Slams.

The 23-year-old made the last eight in Paris for the first time by seeing off Sofia Kenin who had stunned Serena Williams in the third round.

Barty has been in rich form in 2019, winning the biggest title of her career in Miami.

On Wednesday, she faces Keys, a semi-finalist in the French Open in 2018 and one of three American women to have reached the quarter-finals this year.

Barty defeated Keys in the Fed Cup this year but the American came out on top at Roland Garros in the first round in 2017.

"Obviously's there's a little bit more talk around and a little bit more attention," said Barty who had never previously got past the second round in Paris in five visits.

"But for me, nothing changes. Very much we go through the exact same process after a match. Whether it's a win or a loss, it's the same recovery, same everything."

Wednesday's tie will be a match of two of the tournament's big servers.

Barty has fired 26 aces to Keys' 21.

Keys also boasts the fastest serve of the tournament so far at 191km/h (118.7mph) in her second round win over Priscilla Hon.

The 24-year-old knocked out Katerina Siniakova, the conqueror of top seed Naomi Osaka, in the last 16.

"It's going to be a tough one," said Keys of facing Barty.

"I feel like clay actually suits her game really well with her kick serve and slice."

Simona Halep (ROM x3) v Amanda Anisimova (USA)

Head-to-head: First meeting

-- A clash of generations for a semi-final spot as defending champion Halep takes on 17-year-old Anismova, the world number 51 who is 10 years her junior.

Halep is in her fourth quarter-final at Roland Garros and was runner-up in 2014 and 2017 before finally making her title breakthrough in Paris 12 months ago.

Halep has broken serve in 16 consecutive return games at the tournament while Anisimova has made her first last-eight at the majors without dropping a set.

Anisimova appreciates the daunting task ahead of her when she takes on Halep.

On Monday, the Romanian needed just 45 minutes to demolish Polish teenager Iga Swiatek in her last 16 tie.

"I was watching Simona before my match and then I was, like, Oh, my God, her backhand down the line is so good and she was taking her time, and then I think I was mimicking it in my match," Anisimova admitted.

Anisimova is the youngest woman to get to the quarter-finals in 13 years.

Unlike Anisimova, Halep was a late bloomer at the Slams, not reaching her first quarter-final until the 2014 Australian Open when she was 22.

Since that time, she has made another 11.

"When I was 17 I was not on Court Philippe Chatrier, I was in quallies here," said the Romanian.