Another young woman of Russian extraction, Amanda Anisimova, is also poised to become a media darling, and I can’t wait, because I am already a fan! Anyone who can suck it up and travel to Paris as a 16-year-old to play in the world’s most difficult tennis tournament is already on my good side. But then, when she proceeds to make it all the way to the semi’s in the most important clay court tournament in the world in her first try, she needn’t do anything more to win me over. Winning will be icing on the cake.
Anisimova was born to Russian parents in Northern New Jersey before her entire family moved to South Florida so that she and her sister, Maria, could train. Maria became an accomplished Junior, and eventually played for the University of Pennsylvania in the Ivy League. But Amanda had higher aspirations, and she won the 2017 Jr. U.S. Open, reached the finals of the 2017 Jr. French Open, and was ranked #2 in the world for Juniors. When she started collecting scalps on the pro Tour at 15- and 16-years-of-age, the Tour had a new rising star. At the 2018 Indian Wells event, Anisimova took out Top Tenner Petra Kvitova, and in the 2019 Australian Open main draw she had little trouble subduing world #12 Aryna Sabalenka to get to the Round of 16. A couple months later she just overwhelmed No. 3 Simona Halep in the French Open. At the time, Halep was the defending French Open champion, and was a mere five weeks away from winning her first Wimbledon trophy.
Anisimova has quickly become a fan favorite for more than her results. She plays with grace and beauty and hits out with nary a hitch in her stroke from almost every position on the court. And while she has had some excellent results to prove that she belongs at the very top of the sport, she has many things to improve on which will make her a much better player as she gains valuable experience and matures. She has been working on her serve, particularly her second serve, which can be one of her Achilles heels, as she is prone to double faulting and not placing her second serve with either enough speed, spin or direction. Nonetheless, Anisimova is here, and here to stay.