Arthur Kapetanakis | January 18, 2019
Seventeen-year-old Amanda Anisimova became the first player born in the 2000s to reach the last 16 at a Grand Slam on Friday at the Australian Open, outclassing and overpowering No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka for the biggest win of her young career.
Taking charge against one of the hottest players on the WTA Tour, an in-vogue pick to win the Melbourne title, Anisimova stayed level-headed throughout her 6-3, 6-2 victory, her business-as-usual demeanor belying the extraordinary level of tennis she displayed.
Less than two years removed from winning the 2017 US Open girls’ singles final – a victory that “feels like quite a while ago” for Anisimova – the Freehold, N.J., native continues to make headlines at the top level. She first burst onto the WTA scene at Indian Wells last March, when she took out No. ADVERTISEMENT 9 Petra Kvitova and No. 23 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach the Round of 16 at the age of 16.
Soon after her coming-out party, she was forced to pull out of the Miami Open, after notching a first-round win, with a foot injury that sidelined her through August. Though she described it as a frustrating setback, it gave her time to think about her career and come back even stronger.
She can now look ahead to a rematch with Kvitova next in Melbourne. When asked her ultimate tennis dream at her post-match press conference, Anisimova didn't look too far ahead. “I want to win this tournament right now,” she said with a smile.
Here's more from the young American, as she addressed the media following her upset of Sabalenka.
Q. How does that rank as how well you've ever played?
Amanda Anisimova: Probably one of the best matches of my life, yeah. I played really well today.
She's a really tough opponent, so I was just really preparing myself for a really tough match. I was putting it all out there. Yeah, I was staying relaxed, so I was playing really well.
Q. How have you changed [since winning the US Open girls’ singles title in 2017]?
Amanda Anisimova: Just everything, like my game and my mentality. I believe in myself so much more than I ever did in this tournament. It's just trusting myself. That's why I have been also playing really well, so that's definitely changed a lot.
Q. Your backhand was quite extraordinary today. Is that your preferred shot?
Amanda Anisimova: Yeah, a lot of people tell me my backhand is really good. I like playing forehand and backhand. I don't really think I have a better shot.
Q. You were almost half-volleying your opponent. Are you comfortable taking the ball early?
Amanda Anisimova: Yeah, definitely I was trying to be really aggressive today because she plays really aggressive, too, and we are both really big hitters. I was trying to take control in this match today.
Q. You spoke briefly about Maria Sharapova after your match. Could you talk a little bit about your childhood idols and who has influenced your game or who you've modeled your game on?
Amanda Anisimova: Yeah, for sure. I have always looked up to her, and I was watching her when I was little. She's a great person to look up to. Yeah, I always enjoyed watching her play and all of her interviews. She's a great person off the court, too.