Anisimova battles to Melbourne WTA title in Australian Open boost

Melbourne (AFP) – American Amanda Anisimova gave herself a big confidence booster heading into the Australian Open by battling past Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich to clinch the Melbourne Summer Set title on Sunday.


The unseeded world number 78 overcame a mid-match slump and treatment to her left leg to win 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 for only her second-ever WTA Tour crown.

Her previous one came at Bogota in 2019 as a 17-year-old, the youngest American to clinch a title since Serena Williams at Indian Wells in 1999.

"I'm in a such a good headspace now after an incredibly tough year," said Anisimova, who missed the Australian swing last year after testing positive for Covid.

"It's so good to start off the year in a good place and winning a title, I honestly couldn't ask for any more."

A win appeared unlikely for the 2019 French Open semi-finalist when she lost the second set and went 3-0 down in the third, but she battled back for to deny qualifier Sasnovich her first title.

Sasnovich played a beautiful lob to earn her first break point and was rewarded on her second when Anisimova double faulted to give her a 3-2 lead in the opening set.

She held serve for 4-2 but Anisimova's powerful groundstrokes were becoming effective and the American broke back for 4-4 with a searing backhand down the line.

It went with serve until Anisimova struck again to take the set.

But she then lost focus and slumped 4-0 down in the second set, having treatment on a left upper leg issue which appeared to hamper her movement.

She looked out for the count when she lost the set then went 3-0 behind in the decider, but against the odds fought back to hold then break and haul herself back into contention.

Showing a new determination, she forced errors from Sasnovich, with a wayward backhand handing her a break for 5-4 and she made no mistake to win with an ace.

There are two simultaneous WTA events being run as part of the Melbourne Summer Set in the lead-up to this month's Australian Open.

In the other final, two-time Grand Slam champion Simona Halep faces Russian Veronika Kudermetova later Sunday.