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American Amanda Anisimova is back in business.  The 22-year-old returned to the WTA Tour this month after an eight-month self-imposed break for the betterment of her mental health and resumed regular programming at Melbourne Park with a 6-3, 6-4 upset win over Russian 13th seed Luidmilla Samsonova.


For Anisimova, who reeled off the final five games of the second set to steamroll Samsonova, the win represents an important step forward although the American is trying not to get swept away with the result.


“I'm just here for the journey right now and seeing how much I can progress”, she told the press post-match.  “I think I would take it with whatever outcome I would get. But I am happy with the win, and I really hope that I can build on from it.”


Asked whether she felt any part of her game was missing given her recent hiatus, a “refreshed” Anisimova revealed she “didn't touch a racquet for four months” and suggested she’d taken to competitive tennis like a duck to water.


“Everything was there. It was kind of like I never stopped playing actually” Anisimova opined.  “It was just the fitness part because I'm a human, so that's obviously going to go away, and you have to build that up.


“But my game and my shots, I was actually playing great from what I thought the first week with my coach. So that was really nice just going back out there and feeling like I

never stopped.”


A junior champion seemingly inevitably destined for great things, Anisimova first truly announced herself when she bounced onto the scene and into the tennis conscience at Roland Garros in 2019 when she defeated defending champion Simona Halep in the quarter-finals.  Although she ultimately fell in her next match from a winning position to Ash Barty, Anisimova, aged 17 at the time, became the youngest woman to reach the semi-finals of a major since 2006. 


Unfortunately for Anisimova, her success was quickly overshadowed by tragedy after her father passed away later that year aged 52. Understandably distraught, Anisimova elected not to play a full schedule while in mourning however still finished the year in the world’s top 25 women.


Underscoring her rapid rise up the ranks and her marketability, Anisimova signed what was rumoured to be an eight-year $100m clothing deal with Nike. 


In the years following Anisimova demonstrated great promise and was regularly considered a threat at any tournament she entered, however, the American failed to string together the sort of tennis expected of her.


After a 2022 season that included fourth-round appearances at the Australian Open and Roland Garros, where Anisimova took down four-time grand slam champion Naomi Osaka at both events and a trip to the Wimbledon quarter-finals, hopes were high for Anisimova in 2023.


That hope was not fulfilled. Losses quickly mounted and Anisimova looked like a shell of herself.  Sitting at 3-8 for the year, Anisimova announced she would take an indefinite break from tennis citing burnout and the need to prioritise her mental health. Such was her mental strain, Anisimova stated it had become “unbearable being at tennis tournaments”.


In taking her break, Anisimova, who freely shares that she, like all of us, can on occasion suffer from homesickness, transferred her online business and psychology degree from Indiana University and instead attended Nova Southeastern University for a semester in Florida in person while provided the American with a welcome dose of normality.  Unsurprisingly, she found a way to utilise the courts on campus.


“I really enjoyed my experience there” she beamed.  


“There were a couple of girls who play tennis. They weren't on the team, but I actually did end up practicing with them one day when I didn't have a hit, so I asked them to go hit with me at the courts there.”


In addition to her business studies, Anisimova recently took to painting and began selling her artwork online to support charities close to her heart.


In taking effectively taking Samsonova’s spot in the draw, Anisimova will face one Nadia Podoroska (#65) or Tamara Zidansek (#98) in the second round with 21st seed Donna Vekic a likely third-round opponent encounter.


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