What to Watch Wednesday at the French Open

Halep, the No. 3 seed and defending champion, dismissed one teenager with considerable ease in her fourth-round match, needing only 45 minutes to defeat 18-year-old Iga Swiatek, 6-1, 6-0, on Monday. Her next challenger — the 17-year-old Anisimova in the first match on Philippe Chatrier Court (8 a.m. Eastern) — figures to be a tougher test. Anisimova’s poise on big stages has already been proven several times, and the calm manner in which she dispatched shots during what she described as an “effortless” fourth-round win over Aliona Bolsova left many in awe. Anisimova is the youngest player in a French Open quarterfinal in 13 years, but she betrays few nerves.

The first match on Suzanne Lenglen Court on Wednesday features two players who continue to expand the definition of what sort of athletes can succeed on clay. Often befuddled by red clay, Keys, 24, stunned herself with a run to the French Open semifinals last year. With a win on Wednesday, Keys would be making a habit of it. Barty, similarly, had a 2-5 record at Roland Garros before this year, which has brought a general uptick in her results since she won the hardcourt Miami Open in March. Barty’s combination of unusual weapons — a kick serve and knifing backhand slice — could unnerve Keys. But while Barty won their most recent match, in Fed Cup in February, Keys prevailed in their previous meeting on clay in the first round here two years ago.

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Germany’s Alexander Zverev is trying to make his first Grand Slam semifinal.CreditMichel Euler/Associated Press

The fifth-seeded Zverev has done nearly everything on the sport’s smaller stages. He has won the ATP’s year-end championships and three Masters events, helping him finish at No. 4 each of the past two seasons. After a relative struggle through the first five months of this season, Zverev has the chance to do something in the second match on Chatrier that he has never done before: make a Grand Slam semifinal. It has eluded him in 15 previous Grand Slam appearances despite his world-beating excellence elsewhere. He has defeated his opponent, the top-ranked Djokovic, on big stages before, including in the Italian Open final two years ago and at the ATP year-end championships final. But a victory at Roland Garros against the man who has won the last three Grand Slam events would cement Zverev’s place among the game’s elite like nothing else before.

After breaking through with a win at the Paris Masters in November, on indoor courts across town from Roland Garros, Khachanov struggled this season, posting a poor 6-12 record before returning to the French capital. The slide was similar to the precipitous drop-off experienced last year by Jack Sock, the 2017 Paris Masters champion. But Khachanov has course-corrected at this tournament, especially in his four-set win over Juan Martín del Potro in the fourth round, which ran his winning streak to 10 matches in this locale. By reaching the French Open quarterfinals, Khachanov will become the first Russian man to make a top-10 debut in over a decade. He has a chance to improve his standing even more when he takes on the fourth-seeded Thiem in the second match on Lenglen. Thiem, a finalist here last year, is far more proven at this stage of Grand Slam events, and he will be seeking a fourth consecutive French Open semifinal appearance.

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Source: NYT

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