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Thursday, June 6, 2019

Anisimova Beats Halep to Reach French Open Semifinals; Navarro, Damm and Kodat Win Twice to Advance to French Junior Championships Semis; ITA Men's Team Indoor Kick-off Weekend Draft Complete

Amanda Anisimova has been considered a rising star in the WTA for quite some time, but her profile was raised to new heights today in the women's French Open quarterfinals. The 17-year-old from Florida defeated No. 3 seed and defending champion Simon Halep of Romania 6-2, 6-4 to become the youngest American woman to reach a slam semifinal since Venus Williams at the 1997 US Open.  Anisimova, playing in just her second women's draw in Paris (she was a finalist at the 2016 junior championships there), has not dropped a set in her five wins this week. On Friday, she will face No. 8 seed Ashleigh Barty of Australia, who beat No. 14 seed Madison Keys 6-3, 7-5 in the other quarterfinal played today. For more on Anisimova's win today, see this article from the WTA website.

The French Open Junior Championships got back on schedule, at least in singles, today, with three Americans winning two matches to reach the semifinals.

No. 8 seed Emma Navarro kept hope alive for a third straight American girls champion in Paris, beating No. 9 seed Kamilla Bartone of Latvia 6-4, 6-4 in the third round and unseeded Daria Snigur of Ukraine 6-7(6) 6-3, 6-3 in the quarterfinals. Snigur had beaten Navarro in the third round of the Australian Open back in January, although Navarro had won their previous meeting on clay. Navarro's semifinal opponent is No. 5 seed Qinwen Zheng of China, who has beaten Navarro in their only two meetings, both on clay, in the first round at last year's Eddie Herr and in the semifinals the following week at the Orange Bowl.  The other girls semifinal features top seed Leylah Fernandez of Canada, who lost only two games in her two wins today, against No. 3 seed Maria Osorio Serrano of Colombia. They have split two previous meetings, with Osorio Serrano winning their quarterfinal match last year at the US Open Junior Championships and Fernandez winning their 2018 French Open Junior third round match.

The boys semifinalists were all born in 2003, with the youngest 15-year-old Martin Damm, who won his two matches in straight sets today. In the third round, the tenth-seeded Damm avenged his two Grade A losses on clay to No. 5 seed Thiago Tirante of Argentina, taking that match 7-6(3), 6-1. In the quarterfinals, Damm defeated unseeded qualifier Peter Makk of Hungary 6-1, 6-4. Makk had upset top seed Lorenzo Musetti of Italy 6-7(5), 6-4, 7-5 in the third round.

Damm will play No. 7 seed Holger Rune of Denmark, 16, who advanced to the semifinals when No. 15 seed Filip Jianu of Romania retired trailing 6-0, 4-1. Jianu had beaten No. 3 seed Brandon Nakashima 6-7(3), 6-3, 6-4 in the third round. Damm beat Rune 6-3, 6-4 in the third round of the Grade A in Brazil this winter.

The boys semifinal in the bottom half is between two unseeded 16-year-olds: Toby Kodat and Shintaro Mochizuki of Japan. Kodat advanced to the quarterfinals when No. 4 seed Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria retired trailing 7-6(5), 5-3. Kodat, who has not lost a set in his four wins this week, beat unseeded Taha Baadi of Canada 7-6(3), 6-2 to move into the semifinals. Mochizuki beat unseeded Flavio Cobolli of Italy 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals to advance to a first meeting with Kodat. Cobolli had upset No. 2 seed Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic 6-1, 6-2 in the third round.

Kodat, Damm and Mochizuki all train at the IMG Academy in Bradenton.

With two singles matches on Thursday's schedule, only one round of doubles could be played, so those draws are still behind, with two matches scheduled for Friday.

Kodat and Damm advanced to the quarterfinals, with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Matteo Arnaldi and Francesco Passaro of Italy. Zane Khan and his partner Bu Yunchaokete of China reached the doubles quarterfinals Tuesday.  The other Americans in the boys doubles draw--Cannon Kingsley and Emilio Nava, Dali Blanch and Will Grant--lost their second round matches today.

Unseeded Navarro and Chloe Beck reached the girls doubles quarterfinals, beating No. 8 seeds Melodie Collard and Fernandez 6-0, 7-6(8). No. 5 seeds Hurricane Tyra Black and Lea Ma reached the quarterfinals back on Tuesday. Savannah Broadus and Abigail Forbes lost their second round doubles match today.

A Roland Garros photo gallery, including Navarro, Damm, Nakashima and Kodat, is available at the ITF Junior Circuit website. The ITF Junior website article on today's matches features comments from Kodat about his play. There is an error in it, giving Damm the credit for a win over Musetti rather than Makk.

Although the weather forecast isn't great for Friday, the schedule has all three Americans opening play at 5 a.m. Eastern time. Anisimova is scheduled to play then as well.

The Men's ITA Team Indoor Kick-off Weekend draft was held today, with a surprising number of teams passing on the opportunity to participate. Although the first 12 teams eligible (ranked 16-27) selected from the 15 sites hosting regionals in January of 2020, No. 28 Alabama passed, and then 12 other teams ranked 29-71 elected not to participate.

The first regional to fill up was No. 9 Mississippi State, with Oklahoma[17], South Carolina[19] and Georgia[21] making for an exceptionally competitive regional. No. 13 Tennessee also filled up quickly, with No. 16 Columbia, No. 22 Oklahoma State and No. 24 Arizona State making the trip to Knoxville. No. 1 Texas's regional was surprisingly popular, but No. 6 Baylor and No. 7 North Carolina couldn't attract any teams in the Top 60 to their sites.

For the entire list of who is going where, with draft order, see the Slam Tennis site. The women's draft from Wednesday can be found here.