Tennis has the power to throw up such incredible storylines, on and off court. The two young women that fought out a three set classic in Australia certainly have had a lot of off-court difficulties to deal with over the last few years. However, when they came together on the Rod Laver Arena it was all about their tennis. The victory that Amanda Anisimova left the court with would have meant the world to her.
Amanda Anisimova Looks Back To Her Best
The word is that the 20-year-old American picked up the phone to Darren Cahill as quickly as possible when his relationship with Simona Halep came to an end. The trial period with the Adelaide-based Australian coach is surely progressing even better than either of them dreamed. The former French Open semifinalist had been down at world #78 after a year and a half of middling results. The talent that everyone saw in the 2019 season as a precocious teenager was in danger of flittering away.
However, the power and control of the groundstrokes and consistent serve were always there. It was only laying dormant. Cahill, Australia, and Anisimova herself have found the key to wake up that thrilling game. Osaka would have been prepared for it but even then, the defending Australian Open champion could not defeat it.
Osaka starts strong
The result looked far more likely to go Osaka’s way early on, though. A break of Anisimova’s serve in the opening game put the scoreboard in the Japanese player’s favor and she remained dominant, serving out the first set to love. That break of serve was to be the only time that Anisimova was broken in the entire match though.
Both women seemed to struggle a little more to dominate at the beginning of the second set. Three long deuce games in a row ramped up the tension and when, eventually, Osaka was broken for the first time in the fourth game of the second set Anisimova had the impetus required to level the scores up.
Third set drama
Serve was on top all the way through the third set until the tenth game. With the score 5-4 to Osaka, Anisimova fought off the terrific pressure of two match points. Her mentality passing the test and perhaps Osaka’s lack of match sharpness coming to bear as well. It was in last year’s tournament that Osaka herself faced two match points against Garbine Muguruza in the early rounds before going on to win the title.
The inevitable match tiebreak ensued at 6-6. The Rod Laver Arena crowd were on tenterhooks to see where this classic match would go. In a similar story to the match, serve dominated. Anisimova didn’t lose a single point in the match tiebreak on her own delivery. This meant that the opening point that Anisimova took against Osaka’s serve was vital, and when the American took the twelfth point of the breaker to go 8-4 up, the outcome was fairly clear.
The consequences of this result
Osaka’s third-round exit means that she falls outside of the top 50 in the WTA rankings. More detail about Osaka’s future can be found in this piece dedicated to it.
Anisimova, on the other hand, moves into a mouth-watering clash with world number one and favorite for the title, Ashleigh Barty. This will be scheduled primetime on the Rod Laver Arena and signals that Amanda Anisimova is back in the big time. Her opportunity to stay there for the long term is maybe still in doubt, but it is a joy to see her confidence restored.
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