Amanda Anisimova had no problems moving into the Melbourne Summer Set 2 final on Saturday. The American dispatched No.3 seed Daria Kasatkina 6-2, 6-0 in a 56-minute semifinal clash and Sunday will face Belarusian qualifier Aliaksandra Sasnovich for the title.
"I'm happy with how I found my rhythm this week, and I've been taking it one match at a time and I think my performance has been getting better with each day," Anisimova said after her win.
The victory breaks a nearly three-year drought since Anisimova's last final, which came in April of 2019 when she won her first WTA singles title in Bogota over Astra Sharma. In fact, this week marked her first semifinal on tour in exactly two years, when she lost to Serena Williams in the final four at 2020 Auckland.
Anisimova, though, continued her mastery of Kasatkina to achieve that goal. Anisimova had beaten the Russian in straight sets in their lone previous meeting as well, which came at that aforementioned Auckland tournament two years ago.
"Last year I was training really hard and I think the results were not really there, and it was really disappointing to have bad results week after week," Anisimova said. "But just keeping my head high and knowing that the work would eventually pay off, and just working smarter, I think that's helped me.
"I'm in a really good headspace starting off this year, and I'm just grateful for every tournament I get to play. And I'm just super happy and excited going into each match, and I think that's what's most important."
Amanda Anisimova reached out to Darren Cahill in the off-season and has really enjoyed his help this week in Melbourne. “We’re just starting out & getting to know each other. We’ll see how it goes and hopefully it could become a long-term thing. I’m hoping that will be the case."— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 8, 2022
On Saturday, Kasatkina never held serve, with Anisimova converting seven of her 11 break points en route to the quick win. Anisimova was particularly ruthless returning the Kasatkina second serve, with the American taking a whopping 82 percent of those points.
Aliaksandra Sasnovich rally stuns Ann Li in second semifinal
Belarus' Aliaksandra Sasnovich always finds a way to play her best tennis in Australia and the World No.107 struck again this week in Melbourne. Playing in her first semifinal since 2019 Sydney, the 27-year-old is into her first final since 2018 Brisbane after defeating No.7 seed Ann Li 7-6(4), 2-6, 6-3.
Having reached a career-high at No.30 in 2018, Sasnovich has enjoyed resurgent form over her last three tournaments. She defeated back-to-back Top 50 opponents in Indian Wells last fall, defeating Emma Raducanu and Simona Halep, and repeated the feat this week, defeating Clara Tauson and Li.
Sasnovich credited her character for her comeback win over Li on Saturday. Neither woman had lost a set in the tournament, but Li looked the stronger player early. Playing in her fourth tour semifinal, the 21-year-old American led 5-2 in the first set. But Sasnovich's forehand would prove the difference in the match, and she turned the opening set around as she found her range. Sasnovich faced down one set point on her serve at 4-5 and sealed her comeback by taking a tight tiebreak, 7-4.
Li bounced back quickly to take the second set and force a decider, but Sasnovich jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead and never looked back. On Sunday she will look to win her first WTA title, having made two prior finals.
"I'm ready to play," Sasnovich said. "I'm ready 100%. I'm sure it's going to be a very interesting match. Amanda is a great player with, for me, one of the best techniques on tour."