Amanda Anisimova will never forget the year 2019. On the bright side, she captured her maiden WTA title in Bogota. Moreover, she proved at the Australian Open and especially at Roland Garros that she’s a threat to go deep at any event she enters. However, she also suffered the worst loss of her life, as her dad Konstantin Anisimov passed away in August.
The 18-year-old, who technically could have played the ITF Junior circuit, began her campaign in Auckland ranked No. 96. Six months later, she had comfortably broken the Top 30 barrier. Owing to the unforeseen death of her dad, Anisimova spent two full months away from the courts. By the time she returned to competition during the Asian swing, her tennis was understandably a bit rusty.
While her ascent was not as steep as Bianca Andreescu’s, a 72-spot climb to No. 24 in the rankings suggests bright things in store for the American in 2020.
On a good day, Amanda Anisimova can blow anyone off the court
In 2019, the New Jersey native wasted no time in proving she belonged on the big stage. After picking up two wins at the Auckland International, Anisimova did not drop a set en route to the Australian Open round of 16. One of her victims at Melbourne Park was No. 11 seed Aryna Sabalenka, who was widely considered one of the tournament frontrunners.
The next successful stop was Bogotá. On the Colombian clay, Anisimova lifted her first WTA trophy. While the opposition was far from the strongest, she won four deciding sets in five days, a remarkable achievement for a then-17-year-old.
A month later, Anisimova arrived at the French Open with moderate expectations following a modest 2-3 record in Madrid and Rome. However, the burgeoning star caught fire in Paris, reeling off 11 straight sets won until eventual champion Ashleigh Barty turned their semifinal matchup around. The way she dominated reigning champion Simona Halep 6-2 6-4 in the quarters was particularly impressive. Not only did she set the tone with her high-powered groundstrokes, but she also displayed her deft touch in the form of accurate drop shots.
Season abruptly disjointed after Mr. Anisimov’s passing
First and foremost, her father’s death marked an unfortunate turning point. The fact Anisimova even played Wuhan and Beijing in October speaks loudly of her competitive will. The easy way out would have been to shut the season down entirely.
If we analyze strictly her on court performance, she endured the growing pains that affect most youngsters. Results are typically uneven because they cannot bring their A or even B game on a consistent basis. Anyway, Anisimova did not really suffer catastrophic losses. Arguably her worst defeat came at the hands of fellow promising prospect Marta Kostyuk, 6-0 2-6 6-0 in Madrid.
Barring injury, expect big things in 2020
As long as she is physically and mentally fit, sky is the limit for Anisimova. Her backhand is a certified weapon of mass destruction. Besides, I know it is a small sample size, but her 6-1 record on tiebreaks (5-0 before her two-month hiatus) speaks loudly about her clutch gene.
Anisimova’s marketability potential is beyond doubt. She was expected to face Maria Sharapova on December 19th in Abu Dhabi, but she had to withdraw. While the 12th edition of the Mubadala World Tennis Championship does not award WTA points, only big names receive an invite to the Emirates.
At the same time, Coco Gauff exists and she will receive a large chunk of the attention, which should benefit Amanda Anisimova. The 18-year-old could thrive slightly under the radar until she captures her maiden big title and, inevitably, becomes a full-blown global superstar.