By Ros Satar, in Melbourne
- Amanda Anisimova def. Aryna Sabalenka  6-3 6-2
- 11 seed was hotly tipped to make a decent run at the Australian Open
- Anisimova is the youngest woman in the main draw
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA – For those keeping an eye on the future of the WTA, an intriguing battle between a youngster and a rising star gave us a third round upset.
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Amanda Anisimova def. Aryna Sabalenka  6-3 6-2
There was an interesting query posed ahead of this match – were we about to watch the future of the WTA doing battle? The names to watch before the current WTA ‘old guard’ step down featured the feisty but charismatic Aryna Sabalenka, who was looking to try and equal her best performance in a slam so far with a win, versus Amanda Anisimova who at 17 years and five months old is the youngest player left in the main draw.
Sabalenka had so far been in pretty imperious form breezing through her two opening rounds, including taking out Britain’s Katie Boulter. But it was Anisimova who really impressed with her complete dismantling of No. 24 seed Lesia Tsurenko for the loss of just two games.
Sabalenka was a pretty credible dark horse pick in many a prediction challenge, but her own powerful game was completely neutralised by Anisimova. The Belarusian, who had a breakout year last year started the season in the best possible way with the Shenzhen title, but when it came to finding a way through the barrage of sublime backhands from the young American, she was found sorely wanting.
Anisimova became the youngest American to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam since Serena Williams (Roland Garros 1998) and the youngest in Melbourne since Jennifer Capriati in 1993.
She will face Petra Kvitova, whom she beat in straight sets in Indian Wells last week. Needless to say, she is not afraid of anyone out there and the free hitting teen will not feel cowed by the Czech, who has been playing some of her best slam tennis in a long time.
After the match, Anisimova described the win as: “Probably one of the best matches of my life. 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.
“I was just so excited. I was going to be playing on a big court. I was just trying to have fun out there, and I was really enjoying myself. Yeah, I ended up being relaxed.”
Having won the Junior US Open in 2017, a lot has changed in a very small time for the 17-year-old.
She said: “It seems like a long time ago. I feel like a lot of things have changed since then. I have changed as a person and as a player – 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.”
Anisimova and Kvitova will play their fourth-round match on Sunday.
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