Misc Tennis

Australian Open — Amanda Anisimova ‘refreshed’ after 2023 break

Australian Open -- Amanda Anisimova 'refreshed' after 2023 break

Amanda Anisimova shook her clenched fists, smiled and let out a deep breath.

While the 6-3, 6-4 score might not have indicated it, nor her dominant play, the 22-year-old American had just won her first major match in over 17 months. As the elated Australian Open crowd cheered her on, the relief was evident all over her face as she walked to the net to shake hands with her opponent, Liudmila Samsonova.

On Tuesday, she found magic yet again with another straight-set victory in Melbourne over Nadia Podoroska. And now, Anisimova is back into the third round at a major for the first time since 2022. She will take on former world No. 2 Paula Badosa on Thursday.

While it’s her seventh major third-round appearance, and third at the Australian Open, this one is perhaps the most improbable. Having stepped away from the game for most of the 2023 season for an indefinite mental health break following months of poor on-court results, it was unclear for a time whether she would play again. But during her time away, Anisimova spent time with her family and friends, enrolled in on-campus college classes, traveled with friends and cultivated her passion for art — and rediscovered her love for tennis along the way. She made her return in Auckland earlier this month.

“I feel a lot more refreshed,” Anisimova said this week. “I’m enjoying practicing. I’m enjoying every second that I’m out there. Even when I was down today, I was still just enjoying the challenge.

“I’m just happy with how I feel coming back. I feel like I was very burned out while I was playing, and that really wasn’t a nice feeling. Being able to just reset is really nice.”

On May 5, Anisimova shocked the tennis world with an Instagram post.

“I’ve really been struggling with my mental health and burnout since the summer of 2022,” Anisimova wrote. “It’s become unbearable being at tennis tournaments. At this point my priority is my mental well-being and taking a break for some time. I’ve worked as hard as I could to push through it.”

She gave no indication when — if ever — she would be back.

Following a quarterfinal run at Wimbledon in 2022, Anisimova’s struggles on the court had been apparent. She lost in the first round at both the 2022 US Open and the 2023 Australian Open. By the time of her announcement, she hadn’t won a match in over two months.

Since winning the junior title at the US Open in 2017, and then reaching the semifinals at the French Open less than two years later, there…

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