Australian Open 2022: Amanda Anisimova knocks out the defending champion, Naomi Osaka in the third round, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6. She will next face the home favorite, Ashleigh Barty.
The defending champion had two match points but failed to convert them. Amanda on the other end held on tight in a roller coaster game.
Anisimova’s 2-hour, 15-minute victory was the 20-year-old American’s seventh Top 20 win of her career and first since she beat Alison Riske in the second round of the 2020 US Open.
After reaching a career-high ranking of No.21 in October 2019, Anisimova fell to No.86 last August after two difficult seasons. Osaka’s 15-match unbeaten streak in Melbourne comes to an end.
The American was nervous but the numbers favored her right before the start. However, Anisimova committed two double faults in the first game to give Osaka an early break. That break proved costly as Naomi sweeps through the first set.
The second set was much more competitive as Anisimova fired 15 winners against Osaka’s seven. It was the American who got the break at 3-1. Anisimova leveled the match, winning the second set.
Osaka would start the third set on a high note and held Amanda for the majority of the set. The game moved quickly towards the end and Osaka had two match points. You would expect the defending champion to rise on such an occasion but it was the other way around.
On both match points she faced, Osaka’s backhand buckled first under the weight of her sweetly timed groundstrokes. And in the ensuing super-tiebreak, the first time either player had contested a first-to-10 deciding game at the pro level, Anisimova was near-flawless.
She went for bold shot-making and executed it perfectly. A pair of excellent backhands and a series of unreturnable serves built a hefty lead, a drive volley winner on the line brought up her first match point, and an 11th ace sealed the victory
Anisimova on looking up to Osaka: “I think she’s really inspiring,” Anisimova said afterward, referencing the four-time Grand Slam champion, who has brought athletes’ mental health issues into the spotlight over the past year.
“What she’s done the last couple of years is amazing, and just how authentic she is. I think she’s just great, really fresh for the tour. I think she’s really funny and sweet. It was really cool to finally play her today.
“She just tells the truth about how she feels. She spoke about her mental health the last couple of years. I know she’s gone through a really tough year last year, so I kind of feel for her today. I know it’s not easy, especially being the defending champion, kind of feel bad. But just the way that she talks about things and how honest she is, I think that’s really inspiring.
“To get rid of the stigma around mental health – I think that we’re in a completely different time now. This generation is becoming more honest about all these kinds of things.”- Amanda Anisimova on how Naomi Osaka has inspired her
“To spread awareness and try to get rid of the stigma around mental health – I think that we’re in a completely different time now. This generation is becoming more honest about all these kinds of things. I think it’s great to see.
“I’m comfortable speaking about whatever, you know. I’ve gone through a couple of hard years, and I don’t mind posting stuff on social media and just try to spread awareness for people who are also going through tough things. I think it’s great to be relatable to other people who follow us. I think it’s a great message.
“Last year was a huge struggle for me. Honestly, I didn’t think that I would – I mean, it’s not that I didn’t think, but I really wanted to be having these moments again. Sometimes you doubt it, like what if I get injured and I’ll never be able to play in a Grand Slam again? Like, those thoughts try to creep up in my head sometimes. Yeah, last year was just not great, all my results I wasn’t happy with. I’m just really happy that I had a great preseason with my team.”