PARIS, France – Amanda Anisimova produced a masterful display to halt the run of No.11 seed Aryna Sabalenka in Roland Garros, winning through to the third round 6-4, 6-2 in just 75 minutes.
It was a repeat of her shock success over the Belarusian at the Australian Open in January, when she powered to a stunning 6-3, 6-2 win in the only previous meeting between the pair.
On a surface that brought her first WTA Tour title in Bogota earlier this year, she was the dominant force in this match, able to absorb the power of her 21-year-old opponent while working the ball around smartly in a manner that belied her 17 years.
"I'd never passed a round at the French Open before, so obviously it's super special," she said. "It feels great.
"I'm really happy with my performance. I knew it was going to be a tough battle, which it was."
Neither player served with much success at the beginning of the opener, yet in a set that was decided by relatively fine margins, it was telling that the American’s delivery would improve whereas her opponent’s lingered at 50% of first serves in.
Indeed, Anisimova found herself facing a 0-40 deficit in each of her first three service games, and though she was able to salvage the situation once, she found herself a break down at 3-2.
Sabalenka, though, was not serving well herself. Two double faults had already seen the second game of the match slide away to love, while she would grow increasingly frustrated with her inability to hit through her opponent as the set wore on.
There was certainly no lack of effort from the WTA World No.11, though in heavy conditions she was struggling to control the ball and finished the opening set with 17 unforced errors to just six winners.
By contrast, Anisimova, who hit 10 winners to just 13 unforced errors, was more judicious in her shot selection and picked off the crucial break at the second attempt, sliding a winner down the line after drawing her opponent out of position.
Sealing the opening set simply confirmed that the momentum was in the WTA World No.51’s favor, particularly as the ghosts of Australia seemed to be beginning to haunt Sabalenka, who cracked her racquet off the surface in frustration after double faulting for a second time in the fourth game of the second set.
By contrast, the attitude of the American was rather more upbeat, typified as she offered a cheeky smile after watching her opponent nudge a dropshot narrowly wide after she had been sent scrambling along the width of Court 1’s baseline.
Service holds were rare in the second set, which made Anisimova’s hold in the very first game priceless.
Both players struggled with their delivery to such an extent that four successive breaks followed, but the American moved 5-2 clear as she ground out a second hold.
The match was epitomized in the final game, which saw Anisimova strike a graceful winner on the opening point to move ahead. Though Sabalenka fought back, a double fault - her eighth of the day - brought up match point, which was then claimed by the teenager as her opponent went needlessly wide, her 35th unforced error.
Anisimova can now look forward to a third-round date with WTA World No.73 Karolina Muchova or WTA World No.116 Irina Begu.