Amanda Anisimova produced one of the performances of her life to end the title defence of Naomi Osaka in the third round of the Australian Open.
The 20-year-old American, ranked 60th in the world, came from a set down to beat the four-time Grand Slam champion 4-6, 6-3, 7-6. She will take on the home favourite, Ashleigh Barty, in the last-16.
At first, it looked like Osaka might be in for an early night when she broke Anisimova in the opening game, before consolidating that lead with an easy service hold. But the American started to feel her way into the match and failed to make the most of a break back opportunity in the sixth game, which allowed Osaka to go on and take the opening set 6-4.
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The match really came to life in the second set, with the opening three games taking 15 minutes to complete, such was their back and forth nature. Despite break point opportunities for both, it was going on serve before Anisimova broke in the fourth game.
The 2019 French Open semi-finalist was finding her best form now and Osaka was finding herself outplayed. Anisimova held her nerve to see out the set 6-3 to level the match at one set all.
Both players reached something nearing their best level in the deciding set, with the latter stages progressing some sensational tennis. Service holds were exchanged until Osaka wasted two match points on the Anisimova serve in the 10th game. The 13th seed could not take advantage and the match was to be settled on a super tie-break.
Anisimova raced to a 3-0 lead to put the immediately put pressure on Osaka, who was struggling to recover the mini break. A shot into the net allowed the American to go 8-4 up, and from there she held her nerve to take it 10-5 to reach the fourth round for the second time.
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"I’m speechless, I absolutely love playing in front of you guys [the crowd] in Melbourne, honestly it’s so much fun," said Anisimova in her on court interview.
"I can’t stop smiling even when I’m playing, even though I should be serious, I’m just laughing with what you guys say sometimes.
"I knew I had to be playing sharp if I wanted to give myself a chance, Naomi is always going to be playing well and she’s an absolute champion. I knew I had to step up my game and try to be aggressive, I think that’s what I started doing in the second set.
"I’m so grateful I was able to play so well today and get this win, it means a lot. Stepping on to the court, all I’m thinking about is having fun, every single day here is an amazing opportunity and experience for me."
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