World number one women’s tennis player Ash Barty will have to overcome the formidable Amanda Anisimova to keep alive her hopes of becoming the first Australian since 1978 to win their home Grand Slam when the two meet in the last 16 at Melbourne Park on Sunday.
Ash Barty will meet Amanda Anisimova for the first time since the 2019 French Open semi-final, where the Australian was victorious on her way to her maiden major title
Anisimova defeated defending champion Naomi Osaka to set up a rematch with Barty on Sunday night
The 20-year-old American won the Melbourne Summer Set series earlier this month
Barty was on a collision-course with defending champion Naomi Osaka in the fourth round, but Anisimova edged out the Japanese four-times major winner to extend her winning streak to eight matches this year.
In their only previous meeting at the 2019 French Open semi-finals, Barty won but the Australian will be wary of the unseeded American’s power from the baseline, which saw her fire 46 winners against Osaka.
Indeed, Barty battled from a set and a break down in France to progress and claim her maiden major title three years ago.
But Anisimova will embrace every challenge Barty throws at her, particularly after a difficult period off the court with the 20-year-old’s father-coach unexpectedly passing away last year.
“I’ve gone through a couple of hard years,” Anisimova said.
“Last year was a huge struggle for me. Honestly … 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?’.
“Those thoughts try to creep up in my head sometimes.”
Anisimova had beaten her first top-10 opponent as a 16-year-old and won her first WTA title when 17, reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open in the same year she reached the final four at Roland Garros.
But it wasn’t until this month that she won another title, claiming the Melbourne Summer Set trophy.
That form has continued at the Australian Open, with Anisimova going toe-to-toe with defending champion Naomi Osaka and prevailing to set up a date with Barty.
“I was really looking forward to this and just playing on these big stages,” Anisimova said of her big-time tennis against Osaka, where she saved two match points.
“It’s just an amazing atmosphere. This is everything that I train for.”
“I was getting goose bumps in the tiebreaker (against Osaka).”
Barty has assumed the number one mantle, and won a Wimbledon title, since their French Open battle and has been in devastating form this year.
“[Barty is] an amazing player; I look up to her a lot, I love her game,” Anisimova said.
“She’s a champion, so it’s just going to be exciting to go up against her, another amazing opportunity for me.”