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WTA pre-semifinal notebook

Matt Zemek

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Jimmie 48 Photography

The women’s semifinals at Roland Garros in 2019 will be part of a three-day whirlwind in which Ashleigh Barty or Amanda Anisimova will play three matches without any off days. Accordingly, I will save some big-picture reflections until after the women’s final is completed. Right now, the turnarounds between matches are short. There isn’t much time to breathe or consider the long view with no time between these huge contests in Paris.

Accordingly, then, here are a few observations, questions and thoughts on women’s tennis in a quick bundle, as opposed to a deeper and more detailed illustration of one theme or concept:

— Ashleigh Barty lost to Petra Kvitova in her first major quarterfinal. She very quickly got a second chance at this stage of a major and made the most of it. Barty and Kvitova, one could argue, will be the top two favorites at Wimbledon. What huge strides Barty has made in the space of five months.

— The only player to take a set off Naomi Osaka at the U.S. Open was Aryna Sabalenka, one reason so many people (myself included) were so high on Sabalenka entering 2019. Through five matches in Paris, only one player has taken a set off Barty: Sofia Kenin. Make of that what you will.

— Sofia Kenin defeated Bianca Andreescu in this year’s winter hardcourt season, then lost to Andreescu in Miami. They were about to meet at Roland Garros in the round of 64, but Andreescu withdrew.

— If Barty wins her semifinal, she will become the first WTA player in 2019 to win 30 matches. She is currently tied with Karolina Pliskova at 29.

— 2019 records entering the semifinals: Barty 29-5; Marketa Vondrousova 27-6; Jo Konta 25-8.

— Per Andrew Burton, since the start of 2017 at the majors, no WTA player has made at least four major semifinals. Serena and Venus Williams have made three, as have Simona Halep and Madison Keys. Eight players have made two major semifinals in that span: Angelique Kerber, Sloane Stephens, Jelena Ostapenko, Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova, Jo Konta, Naomi Osaka, and CoCo Vandeweghe. 12 players have made one major semi in that span: Timea Bacsinszky, Caroline Wozniacki, Elise Mertens, Julia Goerges, Danielle Collins, Marketa Vondrousova, Ash Barty, Petra Kvitova, Anastasija Sevastova, Magdalena Rybarikova, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, and Amanda Anisimova. 10 major tournaments with 4 semifinal berths equals 40 semifinal spots. Four players with 3 = 12. Eight players with 2 = 16. 12 players with 1 = 12. Add 12 to 16 to 12 = 40.

— From the stats above, 24 different WTA players have made a major semifinal in the last 10 major tournaments.

— Barty is the only player ranked inside the WTA top 25 at the start of this tournament to make the semifinals.

— If Konta wins her semifinal, she will take the outright lead for most clay-court match wins in 2019, with 16. She is currently tied with Petra Martic at 15.

— Will there be a Vondrousova-Anisimova final? If it happens, it will be the first all-teenager women’s final since the 1999 U.S. Open: 17-year-old Serena Williams defeated 18-year-old Martina Hingis.

Matt Zemek is the co-editor of Tennis With An Accent with Saqib Ali. Matt is the lead writer for the site and helps Saqib with the TWAA podcast, produced by Radio Influence at radioinfluence.com. Matt has written professionally about men's and women's tennis since 2014 for multiple outlets: Comeback Media, FanRagSports, and independently at Patreon, where he maintains a tennis site. You can reach Matt by e-mail: mzemek@hotmail.com. You can find him on Twitter at @mzemek.

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