Anisimova wins second WTA title
at Melbourne warm-up event
Victoria Chiesa | January 9, 2022
American Amanda Anisimova became the first WTA singles champion of 2022 on Sunday with a comeback victory over Belarus' Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the final of the first of two Melbourne Summer Set events ahead of the Australian Open.
In the 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 victory, Anisimova rallied from a 4-2 deficit to win the first set, and also came from 3-0 down in the decider. It is her first title since winning on clay in Bogota, Colombia in the spring of 2019. Prior to this week at the WTA 250 event, Anisimova had not reached a WTA semifinal in exactly two years, when she lost to Serena Williams in Auckland.
"To start off the year playing my first tournament with a title, it's a really amazing feeling," Anisimova told reporters after the match. "I think [Sasnovich] was playing extremely well today, so it was a very difficult match, and I just had to grit my teeth into this one, just fight for every single point.ADVERTISEMENT
"And I went down 3-0 in the third set, but she was just playing really well, and if she were to win that match, props to her for playing well, and I couldn't do anything that day. But I just kept fighting, and I'm really happy that I could stay calm and try and play better tennis. I think I started playing more aggressively, and that's what got me my win today, so I'm just extremely happy."
Anisimova's 2021 season ended with a third-round showing in Indian Wells, securing a season-ending finish in the Top 100. The former World No.21 entered Melbourne ranked No.78, but returns to the Top 60 with the title. She's the first American to win a singles title on Australian soil since Sofia Kenin won the 2020 Australian Open.
Elsewhere at Melbourne Park, Maxime Cressy finished runner-up to Rafael Nadal in the corresponding men's event in a competitive straight-set match. The former UCLA Bruin, who successfully qualified before upsetting No. 2 seed Reilly Opelka and No. 3 seed Grigor Dimitrov en route to his first ATP final, used his now-unconventional serve-and-volley style to unsettle Nadal: he had a set point in the first set and led by a break in the second before falling, 7-6(6), 6-3.
"I'm honored to play against Rafa Nadal and I've been dreaming of these moments of playing on big stages for my entire life," Cressy said in his runner-up speech. "It's finally happening and hopefully, I'll keep playing on these courts again. I have an incredible feeling right now.
"Congrats to Rafa for an incredible performance today. I know it’s not easy playing a serve-and-volleyer these days, especially now that they’re gone, but it’s been an incredible honor to play against you and I’m super thrilled for you."
Nadal also lauded the American in his victory speech, saying: "I’m sure your style will prevail and I really believe that it’s something new, again, that you bring to the game, so it’s great to see again players like you."
In doubles, Americans picked up both WTA 250 titles at the concurrent events in Melbourne. At the Summer Set 1, No. 2 seeds Asia Muhammad and Jessica Pegula defeated Sara Errani and Jasmine Paolini, 6–3, 6–1, for their first title as a team, while Bernarda Pera partnered world No. 1 Katerina Siniakova to win the Summer Set 2 title.
"We got some really tough matches, which is always great prep heading into a Slam," Muhammad said after the match.
Pegula added: "I feel like last year, we struggled finding momentum and rhythm, but it's been nice that everything's been here this week and we could practice, play and compete."
The American-Czech pair of Pera and Siniakova, also seeded No. 2, beat Mayar Sherif and Tereza Martincova, 6-2, 6-7(7), 10-5, to earn Pera her first tour-level title.
"A good match today," Pera said. "We had our chances throughout the second set, we didn't take them, but luckily, we got the third one."