Meet the 16-year-old shocking the tennis world
Amanda Anisimova was shaking after her stunning upset Sunday.
The 16-year-old, not used to the lights and sounds of WTA-level tennis, continued her surging performance at Indian Wells, this time with an emphatic upset of No. 9 Petra Kvitova 6-2, 6-4 in the third round at the BNP Paribas Open.
“This is the biggest stage I’ve ever played on against the strongest person I’ve ever played in a tournament. It’s just crazy,” Anisimova told Tennis.com.
The Colts Neck, NJ, native and US Open juniors champion, whose parents are Russian, said she was a little startled to see herself on the big screens inside Stadium 1, which seems expected since Anisimova was ranked No. 149 in the world entering the tournament, a ranking that will be long gone when and if her run in California dries up.
“Playing US Open juniors, when I won that, that gave me a lot of confidence going in here, but I realize that it’s completely different in the WTA,” said Anisimova, who is coached by her father, Konstantin. “And I have just been adjusting and it’s been really different.”
Her Jersey-based agent, Max Eisenbud, who played at Purdue, is Maria Sharapova’s agent and has joined forces with Anisimova. She’s the youngest player in the draw at Indian Wells, one of the top tournaments outside of the Grand Slam events, and youngest to advance to the fourth round since 2005.
Anisimova, dubbed “The Next Sharapova” by some, won her first-ever WTA Tour-level match against France’s Pauline Parmentier in the first round then backed that up with a statement win against No. 23 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. She then ended Kvitova’s two-title, 14-match win streak.
“She’s an amazing player. I’m pretty sure she was on a 14-match streak, so she was playing really well,” Anisimova said of Kvitova. “I was just trying to stay focused but at the same time I was thinking, Oh my God.”
She earned a wild card for Indian Wells through her performance in the Oracle Challenger Series, which grants qualifiers to the two men and women who accumulate the most points.
“I’m really aggressive, and I like to take the ball away,” Anisimova, born in Freehold Township, said about her style. “I feel like opponents have a tough time managing my power sometimes.”
Anisimova made her Grand Slam main draw debut at the French Open last year, where she lost in three sets to Kurumi Nara. She backed that feat with her silverware at the 2017 US Open, winning her first junior Grand Slam title against Cori Gauff.
At the time, she said she hoped to compete in Grand Slam main draws in 2018. First, she tested herself against Karolina Pliskova, the world’s former No. 1, on Tuesday, dropping a tiebreaker in the second set and bringing her dream run to an end in a 1-6, 6-7 loss.
“I have no pressure going onto the court, and all I can think about is having fun, whatever happens,” Anisimova said.
With Marc Berman