The 21 & Under Club, 2020 Edition: Amanda Anisimova

The 21 & Under Club, 2020 Edition: Amanda Anisimova

If Coco Gauff hadn’t taken the tennis world by storm last year, we would be hearing a lot more about this U.S. phenom.

As we reveal this year's edition of The 21 & Under Club, we'd like to call your attention to Team Luke Hope for Minds, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that supports families with children who have suffered an acquired brain injury. Headed by former Texas Tech tennis coach Tim Siegel—whose son, Luke, suffered severe head and chest trauma from a golf cart accident which resulted in an anoxic brain injury—Team Luke Hope for Minds has lost numerous fundraising opportunities throughout 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To learn more about the organization, and for information on how to donate, go to teamlukehopeforminds.org


WTA Rank: No. 28
UTR Rank: No. 25
What she's done since last summer: Entrenched herself in WTA Top 30; reached semifinals in Auckland

If Coco Gauff hadn’t taken the tennis world by storm last year, we would be hearing a lot more about fellow American phenom Amanda Anisimova. Armed with laser-beam groundstrokes and deft feel, the 18-year-old Russian-born American is as talented as they come. 

In 2019, Anisimova reached the fourth round at the Australian Open, captured her first WTA title in Bogota, and reached the Roland Garros semifinals—stunning Simona Halep in the process—all before her 18th birthday. But a back injury and the sudden passing of her father, who was also her lifelong tennis coach, understandably derailed her season just before the US Open.

"It took a little bit of time for me to enjoy the game again," Anisimova told CNN.com, "But I am now finally getting back into it. I am doing it for myself and also for my dad."

A marketing department's dream, Anisimova doesn't lack for confidence nor ability. The second youngest player in the WTA Top 100 after Gauff, Anisimova has delivered on her junior promise. She won the 2017 girls' US Open, and just six months later reached the fourth round at Indian Wells, defeating Petra Kvitova in straight sets along the way.

While she plays a powerful game and prefers to be the aggressor on court, Anisimova’s precise timing on her groundstrokes open up angles and opportunities not afforded to most players. It's a combination that should keep her in this club, and winner's circles, for years to come.


Strengths

Blessed with height (5’11”) and a lengthy wingspan, Anisimova gets her racquet on plenty of returns. And with her spectacular timing, some replies are clean winners—like this one off of Elina Svitolina’s first serve. 

In eight matches this year, Anisimova has won 60 percent of her second-serve return points. Slow-moving second serves, like this one, end up painted near the line.

Anisimova's backhand is undoubtedly her most reliable and powerful weapon. 

One of Anisimova's biggest strengths lies in her ability to create sharp angles. It’s a combination of talent and timing that not many players possess. 

In the pros, it’s rarely about how hard you hit the ball, but where you hit it. Unless you’re cracking forehands like Juan Martin del Potro, placement is preferable to pace. Most everyone can handle speed, but not everyone likes hitting shots on the dead run, and Anisimova makes her opponents do just that. 


Concerns

Despite her gifts from the baseline, Anisimova is not the most fleet of foot. Her long legs aren’t ideal for court coverage or defense, and she will continue to make her money with her uncanny timing and shotmaking. She will improve with experience, but right now she struggles when her opponent gains control of the point. Her serve, although not a glaring weakness, will also need improvement if she hopes to consistently compete for major titles. 


Comparable: Maria Sharapova

Let's get this out of the way: They are both Russian-born, tall, blonde and sponsored by Nike. Beyond those similarities, their fathers played a huge role in there success, and they both prefer to be the aggressor and win with powerful groundstrokes. Anisimova has more finesse than her idol Sharapova, but doesn’t quite own Maria’s unrelenting pace and dominant serve, nor her hyper-intense and intimidating reputation. Anisimova has been described by her peers as “super chill.” her combination of dart-like groundstrokes and down-to-earth demeanor is a unique one. 


The Class of 2020 is now on TENNIS.com and Baseline.

Monday, July 27: Sofia Kenin | Monday, July 27: Elena Rybakina | Monday, July 27: Alex de Minaur, Dayana Yastremska, Casper Ruud | Tuesday, July 28: Stefanos Tsitsipas | Tuesday, July 28: Thiago Seyboth Wild | Wednesday, July 29: Amanda Anisimova | Wednesday, July 29: Brandon Nakashima | Thursday, July 30: Coco Gauff | Thursday, July 30: Caty McNally | Thursday, July 30: Jannik Sinner, Iga Swiatek | Friday, July 31: Felix Auger-Aliassime | Friday, July 31: Carlos Alcaraz | Saturday, August 1: Denis Shapovalov | Saturday, August 1: J.J. Wolf | Sunday, August 2: Bianca Andreescu | Sunday, August 2: Leylah Fernandez  | Sunday, August 2: Marketa Vondrousova, Miomir Kecmanovic