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Advanced Edition: Amanda Anisimova on the brink of second breakthrough at Wimbledon
Three years after roaring into her first major semifinal, Anisimova has slowly rebuilt her momentum through pandemic and personal loss.
Published Jul 04, 2022
WATCH: Anisimova clinched her spot in Wimbledon's second week with her world-class backhand.
Months before Coco Gauff claimed the mantle of America’s next great hope, Amanda Anisimova appeared poised to take the title for herself when she stunned defending champ Simona Halep to reach the Roland Garros semifinals.
Leading Ashleigh Barty by a set and breaks in both second and third sets, all things appeared possible for then-teenager. But Anisimova lost her nerve. Barty would go onto capture the title and become the most dominant player of the next three years.
In the meantime, Anisimova endured the devastating loss of father and former coach Konstantin, and weathered the global pandemic at a time when she would have been continuing to gain valuable experience after a heady junior career.
The 2022 season has at last seen the young American back to her best, and with her third consecutive major fourth-round appearance, Anisimova looks as ready as she’ll ever be for another big breakthrough.
Can the No. 20 seed capture her first major at SW19? Here’s why—and why not:
Why She’ll Win
Anisimova’s ruthlessly flat hitting—anchored by a textbook perfect backhand—has long made her an obvious candidate for success on higher-bouncing courts. Grass courts have typically proven trickier for the 20-year-old, who went 1-2 in her first two Wimbledon appearances.
A quarterfinal in Bad Homburg, where she scored a dramatic win against big-serving Belgian Alison van Uytvanck, seemingly set her up for a new attitude towards the All England Club. She rallied from a set down to defeat fellow American Lauren Davis and book an exciting third-round clash with Gauff, who bettered Anisimova’s best Roland Garros run with a runner-up finish last month.
Anisimova hit through Gauff’s famed defenses and showed off a vastly improved shot selection to roll through their final two sets in her dream Centre Court debut, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-1.
“I think that I can play very high-quality tennis and put up a good fight against anybody,” she asserted in press. “At the end of the day it's about the consistency and how well you do at each tournament. It's still something that I'm working on. Just getting far into tournaments, I had a couple quarterfinals this year where I think I could have gone past it.
“I just try to take the experience. I'm just here for the journey so I'm building off of that.”
Partly responsible for the lift in her game is coach Darren Cahill, who helped her through a scintillating first quarter that featured a title run in Melbourne and a third-set tiebreaker upset of Naomi Osaka at the Australian Open. Cahill departed the team before Indian Wells citing mental exhaustion but has been consulting Anisimova through the grass swing.
All signs point to continued momentum against unexpected opponent Harmony Tan, who backed up her Serena Williams stunner with subsequent wins over Sara Sorribes Tormo and Katie Boulter.
The two played once before, in the midst of Anisimova’s aforementioned 2019 Roland Garros campaign, but Tan’s unorthodox game has clearly improved in the three years since.
“It's more important on how I'm playing,” Anisimova countered. “That's what I try to focus on, what I'm doing, just kind of sticking to my aggressive game style.”
Why She Won’t
Anisimova has been in this exact round twice before in 2022, and in both Melbourne and Paris, she came out on the losing end. While her Australian Open exit to Barty is more understandable—coming off a long match against Osaka to play the undefeated No. 1—the youngster had plenty of chances to dispatch 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez but couldn’t quell the Canadian.
Like Fernandez, Tan employs plenty of versatility that could easily frustrate Anisimova, who can sometimes overhit in tense situations. She will need to work the Frenchwoman’s off-beat shots to her advantage and wait for opportunities to strike.
If she indeed makes it into the last eight, there will be no time to rest on her laurels as she finds herself in the most stacked quarter of the women’s draw. The bottom half has witnessed an exodus of top seeds, but Anisimova can expect either No. 4 Paula Badosa or 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, who just beat her on grass two weeks ago in Bad Homburg.
“There are a ton of highly skilled competitors at the moment,” Anisimova said of the WTA tour’s depth. “I mean, it's a Grand Slam. All the players are very difficult to play against.”
The talented ballstriker has all the trappings of a star in the making; now it’s up to Anisimova to make it happen.