A Recharged Anisimova Is Trending In Melbourne
Last year, 22-year-old American Amanda Anisimova took eight months off from the WTA Tour.
In 2019, her father, also her coach, suddenly passed away. She continued to compete on tour, but how could that enormous grief not play a role in her life on and off the court?
In May 2023, she announced that she’d be taking an indefinite break from tennis, citing burnout and concerns for her mental health: “I’ve really been struggling with my mental health and burnout since the summer of 2022. It’s become unbearable being at tennis tournaments.”
Anisimova said she’d worked as hard as she could to push through it, but that she needed a break.
During that break, she spent time with friends and family, took on-campus college courses, and developed a passion for painting—beautiful abstracts splashed in lively pink and teal, muted peach and gray, a striking swirling blue sea and black starry sky. Her art was even exhibited at a gallery in Tribeca.
Anisimova returned to the WTA Tour just two weeks ago, reaching the second round in Auckland.
Now, after beating Spaniard Paula Badosa (who’d also taken time off in the latter half of last season with a back injury), 7-5, 6-4, on John Cain Arena, she’s in the Round of 16 at the Australian Open.
For the match, Anisimova hit 75% of her first serves in, with four aces and six double faults. Badosa hit 56% of her first serves in, with three aces and three double faults.
Anisimova played her powerful, aggressive style of tennis, with 40 winners and 29 unforced errors, while Badosa, the former world No. 2, also an incredible ball striker, hit 18 winners and 10 unforced errors.
In the first set, Anisimova was down 4-1, but fought back, stepping into her shots, hitting exquisitely-timed down-the-line backhands and piercing forehand winners.
In the second set, they stayed on serve until the seventh game, when Anisimova broke at love with a forehand down-the-line winner. She then held at love with a big serve and another forehand winner. At this stage of the set, she’d won 10 points in a row. Anisimova was calm and connecting beautifully on her shots. Badosa was able to hold, fending off the depth of Anisimova, and with a nice pick-up for a winner.
At 5-4, Anisimova served impressively, earning a trio of match points and winning on the second one when Badosa netted a forehand.
Closing her eyes in relief, the American gave a subdued celebration: a soft fist pump, friendly handshake, and raising her racquet to thank the crowd.
In her on-court interview, Anisimova said of her victory: “It’s quite unbelievable after taking some time off. But I’m really feeling good. And I think the most important thing is that I’m just enjoying my time out here. Yeah, I’m just really happy to be playing here and into the next round.”
At the end of the first set, Anisimova was doubled over in pain and took a medical timeout to treat her abdominal area.
She said that in that last game of the match that her stomach was starting to hurt again, and she was just relieved it was over, and she could finally take a breath.
Asked about her decision to take time off, she said: “I think taking a step away and just really being at home, and just resetting myself gave me a different perspective going into these tournaments, and I really try to be present when I’m here and just really enjoy every second that I’m here. In the past, I was just getting too caught up in the past and the future, so I think having that is a huge advantage for me now.”
Next up for Anisimova is second seed and defending champion Aryna Sabalenka. Anisimova leads 4-1 in the head-to-head, though their last three matches were extended to three sets.