As Ashleigh Barty held up the French Open Trophy last weekend, the happiness on her face competed largely unsuccessfully with the look of utter disbelief that overshadowed the joy for much of the time.
A brand new Grand Slam women’s singles champion is guaranteed at Roland Garros this year after defending title-holder Simona Halep became the latest big name to crash out of the tournament.
After rain washed out all of Day 11, both the top half women’s quarter-finals and top half men’s quarter-finals were pushed back to Day 12, meaning both the women’s semi-finals – which will all feature women vying for their first major title – and both men’s semi-finals will be played Friday evening (AEST).
On Day 10, Johanna Konta played the clay court match of her life to shock seventh seed Sloane Stephens to reach her first French Open semi-final, while Marketa Vondrousova upset 31st seed Petra Martic to advance to the last four at a major for the first time.
Konta will start favourite to reach her first Grand Slam final despite having never previously won a match at Roland Garros prior to this year.
In the men’s draw, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal set up a semi-final showdown – and a 39th career meeting – with victories over Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori respectively.
In the first of two women’s quarter-finals played on Day 12, Simona Halep became the latest victim of the stunning run to the semi-finals by American teen sensation Amanda Anisimova, who has become the first player, male or female, born this century to get this far at a major tournament.
Demonstrating why she is being touted as one of the sport’s rising stars, the 17-year-old showed no fear as she took the opening set 6-2 after breaking in the eighth game.
She then took a 4-1 lead in the second set before Halep started to work her way back into the match, pegging back a break and then holding her next service game after that to level the set at 4-all.
After Anisimova held to make it 5-4, the 27-year-old found herself in the position where she had to hold her serve if she was to stay in the tournament and thus keep her French Open title defence alive.
At 30-all, a double fault from the Romanian brought up a match point for Anisimova, which she would convert with a backhand winner into the open court.
The stunning straight-sets win sends her through to a semi-final showdown against Australian Ashleigh Barty, who made light work of Madison Keys in the other quarter-final, winning 6-3, 7-5.
At age 17, Anisimova could possibly emulate what Maria Sharapova did at this age when she stunned top seed Serena Williams to win her first major title at Wimbledon in 2004.
The Russian-born American has the chance to become the first teenager since Sharapova at the 2006 US Open to win a major singles title, and the youngest winner of the French Open since Jelena Ostapenko won the title two days after turning 20 in 2017.
Standing in her way is Barty, who will crack the world’s top five after also reaching her first Grand Slam semi-final courtesy of her straight-sets win over Keys, whose wait for a maiden major title will extend into another month.
The Queenslander took the first set in 27 minutes after breaking the American in the eighth game, and then put herself into a position to serve for the match at 5-4 in the second before carelessly losing her serve, allowing Keys to level at 5-all.
However, Barty would claim the final two games to become the first player from her country since Samantha Stosur in 2016 to reach the semi-finals at Roland Garros.
She is now just two wins away from becoming the first Australian to lift the title here since Margaret Court did so in 1973. It would also be Australia’s first Grand Slam triumph since Stosur defeated Serena Williams to win the US Open in 2011.
Of the four women who have managed to get this far at Roland Garros, only Johanna Konta – who will play Marketa Vondrousova in the bottom-half semi-final – has managed to reach a major semi-final once before, doing so at the 2016 Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2017.
It is the first time since the 2017 US Open that none of the four semi-finalists have previously won a major, which means new ground will be broken at the French Open, where all four remaining women are also making their semi-final debut.
Both women’s semi-finals will be played at the same time on Friday morning in Paris, or Friday evening in Australia.