Youth and ambition brought Amanda Anisimova to claim her maiden Top 10 win in Indian Wells, reach her first semifinal and final in Hiroshima and make her Top 100 debut in 2018. At 17 years old, Anisimova became the youngest WTA finalist since Donna Vekic, who was runner-up at Birmingham 2013 at 16 years and 11 months old.
Despite losing to Hsieh, the third player born in 2001 to reach a WTA final following Danilovic and Potapova in Moscow, was the first player born in that year to crack the Top 100. Ranked No.134 before the tournament Anisimova, the second qualifier to reach a final in 2018 following Aliaksandra Sasnovich in Brisbane, was the sixth-lowest ranked tour-level finalist this year after Mandy Minella (No.226 in Gstaad), Anastasia Potapova (No.204 in Moscow), Olga Danilovic (No.187 in Moscow), Stefanie Voegele (No.183 in Acapulco), Serena Williams (No.181 at Wimbledon).
Coached by father Konstantin, born and raised in Moscow as her mother Olga, born in New Jersey and moved to Miami aged three, Anisimova ended 2017 ranked No.192 (up from No.761 in 2016). Limited to play a maximum of 16 professional events per year until the day before the 17th birthday, August 30, 2018, she enjoyed her breakout performance at Indian Wells.
Anisimova, who had Prior to 2018 Indian Wells had played only two tour-level main draw matches (l. Townsend at 2017 Miami; l. Nara 2017 Roland Garros), won her first main draw match over Pauline Parmentier, defeated No.23 Pavlyuchenkova and reached the round 16 and defeating No.9 Kvitova en route (l.
No.5 Ka.Pliskova). She became the first 16-year old to reach that stage in Indian Wells Kutuzova in 2005. “Being this young, you know, it's more exciting. Playing against these top players, I mean, they are all so good and they are world class.
They have had so much experience. So it's just so cool playing against them when I'm this young,” she said in the post-match press conference after her season-defining victory over Kvitova. “I'm really aggressive, and I like to take the ball away.
So I feel like opponents have a tough time, you know, managing my power sometimes. I think that's a big advantage I have. But last year in some of the big matches, like at French Open main draw, you know, I have had some matches where mentally I wasn't really there.
So I had to really work on that last year. I feel like this is a good start for me”. She seems to trust her game, focusing more on her strategies than on her opponent's gameplan and particularly likes her backhand.
“A lot of people tell me I set it up really well. I just really feel when I'm on court I don't really have bad days with it. I don't really have a favourite shot. I think all of my shots are equally pretty good.
My backhand is really good, too. I don't really prefer it over any other shot,” she added. Youth brought her to take strong, somewhat unpopular positions, towards gender equality and gun control. Last Women's Day, she posted about her role model Billie Jean King “because she started equality on the court”.
She confessed to having a friend that went to the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where a gunman opened fire last February 14 killing seventeen students and staff members and injuring seventeen others.
“I think that guns should be banned. That's what my opinion is, whatever. I posted that on Twitter. But you should have stricter laws on that for sure. And I don't think teachers should be having guns in school because I don't think that's a good idea.
I think that we just have to take them out” she said. After Indian Wells, she reached the second round in Miami, but she was forced to withdraw prior to the match against Muguruza with what turned out to be a right foot fracture and spent six weeks in a protective boot.
Her last match was the first round win over Qiang Wang in Miami. In her return to action on tour in San Jose, she defeated No.53 again to collect her seventh career Top 100 win. Making debut appearance at the Bay Area event, having not contested the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic’s predecessor in Stanford, she had found herself two points from defeat against Blinkova in the last qualifying round.
Eventual champion Buzarnescu put an end to her bid to be the first qualifier to reach the quarterfinals there since Vickery in 2014 (l. Lepchenko). Anisimova also made her debut appearance at Cincinnati as a wildcard, defeating Babos in the first round and Martic in the second to score her eighth and ninth career win over Top 100 players.
After scoring back-to-back tour-level wins for the second time in her career (also at 2018 Indian Wells), she surrendered to No.7 Svitolina, suffering the second defeat in three Top 10 career clashes. At Grand Slam level, she made her debut at Us Open, where she won the junior title a couple of years ago, losing in the first round to Taylor Townsend who scored the fourth comeback win of the season.
For the maiden major victory, it could just be a matter of when.