01/18 01:31 CST 17-year-old from Jersey, Anisimova, wins at Australian Open
17-year-old from Jersey, Anisimova, wins at Australian Open
By HOWARD FENDRICH
AP Tennis Writer
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) --- All of 17, never the winner of a Grand Slam match
until this week, Amanda Anisimova is making quite a first impression at the
Anisimova showed precisely why there are those who consider her a possible
future star, producing one spectacular shot after another Friday to upset
11th-seeded Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus 6-3, 6-2 and reach the fourth round.
"I want to win this tournament," Anisimova said, tapping her right index finger
on a table for emphasis at her post-match news conference. "Right now."
She is the youngest American to get this far at Melbourne Park since Jennifer
Capriati in 1993 --- and at any Grand Slam tournament since Serena Williams at
the 1998 French Open. Pretty heady company.
"This is an unreal feeling," Anisimova said in an on-court interview. "I can't
believe that this is happening right now."
Believe it, kid. She captured a ton of attention on Day 5, when defending
champion Caroline Wozniacki was knocked out by 2008 champ Maria Sharapova 6-4,
At the 2006 U.S. Open, when she was 19, Sharapova became the most recent teen
to claim a Slam title. Anisimova grew up cheering for Sharapova and would love
to match her feat of winning a major before age 20.
Who would doubt her?
It's not just that Anisimova, who was born in New Jersey and is based in
Florida, has knocked off two seeded players already, including the hard-hitting
Sabalenka, who was many a pundit's pick for a deep run at Melbourne Park. Or
that she's dropped a measly total of 17 games through three matches.
It's the way the 87th-ranked Anisimova --- there is no one younger in the WTA's
top 100 --- is doing it, with clean and dangerous shotmaking and impeccable
Take the shot --- shot of the match? Of the tournament? Of the year so far? ---
that she produced at 3-0, 15-all in the second set.
It was a 12-stroke exchange in which Sabalenka held the upper hand throughout,
steering Anisimova from corner to corner. It culminated with one sprint by
Anisimova to her right for a forehand, then a sprint to her left for a
backhand, followed by yet another switch of direction for a sprint back to her
right. Her momentum carried her well wide of the doubles alley as she conjured
up a "How did she do that?!" squash-like forehand that looped past Sabalenka
and somehow landed in a corner for a winner, drawing raucous appreciation from
the crowd at Margaret Court Arena --- and an ever-so-slight smile from
"I'm really feeling good out here," said Anisimova, who is coached by her
father, as well as the same person who's worked with her since she was 9. "I'm
playing some really good tennis."
That's an understatement.
She delivered more winners than Sabalenka, 21-12, as well as fewer unforced
errors, 13-9. Anisimova won all eight of her service games, saving the lone
break point she faced. She broke the hard-serving Sabalenka four times.
Anisimova's first trip to Australia, and third appearance in the main draw at a
major, now progresses to Week 2 and a matchup against two-time Wimbledon
champion Petra Kvitova or Belinda Bencic, whose match was scheduled for Friday
On a rainy afternoon that saw the roofs closed atop the three main courts, and
play delayed on smaller arenas, Sharapova advanced to face No. 15 Ash Barty of
Australia, while 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens beat No. 31 Petra
Martic 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5) and now meets Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia.
In the men's draw, Roger Federer dispatched one youngster and set his sights on
The 37-year-old Federer, seeking a third consecutive title in Melbourne,
dismissed 21-year-old Taylor Fritz of the U.S. 6-2, 7-5, 6-2. Federer now takes
on 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who eliminated Nikoloz
Basilashvili 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4.
Also advancing was 2010 Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych, a 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4
winner over No. 18 Diego Schwartzman. Berdych's next opponent will be 17-time
major champion Rafael Nadal or 19-year-old Australian Alex de Minaur.
"We all want them to win all the big stuff, but it just takes time," Federer
said about the newest generation of challengers. "I'm still giving them a hard
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