American teenager Amanda Anisimova spoke with David Kane about conquering her nerves, drawing from her first WTA final experience to win the Claro Open Colsanitas over surging Aussie Astra Sharma, and outlined her clay court goals.
David Kane
April 14, 2019

BOGOTA, Colombia - Amanda Anisimova is usually a serene figure in post-match press conferences, staring straight ahead, piercing eyes seemingly focused on larger goals even as the American quickly rises up the rankings.

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But after a long week at the Claro Open Colsanitas, the American teenager, could hardly contain the excitement of winning her first WTA title.

"It’s a huge deal," she chuckled over the phone after a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Astra Sharma. "I think this was a pretty big goal because I overcame so many challenges this week. I’m really happy and proud of myself for how I got through them, and winning my first WTA title means so much. 

"I definitely got a lot of confidence from it, and hopefully it will bring me more experience ahead of the clay court season this year."

"I don’t think I’ve ever played so many three-set matches in one week, and in so many of them, I was down a set. That really helped my mental strength."
Amanda Anisimova

Coached by Colombian Jamie Cortes, Anisimova rallied from a set and a break down to defeat a surging Sharma, who came within one win over making her Top 100 debut.

"I’d only heard about her for the first time at the start of this year. When I was in the locker room in Australia, I was watching her and was really impressed with her results there."

As the American stormed into the Australian Open second week with a stunning win over Aryna Sabalenka, Sharma won her maiden major main draw match; the Vanderbilt graduate continued to impress in Bogota, scoring back-to-back wins over established clay courters like Sara Errani and Lara Arruabarrena, and came within five points of victory in the second set, holding a break point on Anisimova's serve in a decisive ninth game. 

"I knew she was a really good player and that today would be a really tough match. I knew a little bit about how she plays, but not much, and I was just focusing on myself, like I do in every match."

For Anisimova, it was her first clay court tournament in nearly two years, as a foot injury came on the heels of her breakout run at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open, forcing her off tour for four months.

She made up for lost time with a runner-up finish - and Top 100 debut - at the Hana-cupid Japan Women's Open last fall, though she admitted the memory of that near-miss at a first title was on her mind against Sharma.

"I was thinking about how this was my second final, and that made me nervous, especially in the second set. I just really wanted to win this match, so I was trying to calm myself and get rid of those nerves."

Anisimova ultimately battled through four three-setters to take the title, including one against hometown favorite and former fellow junior competitor Maria Camila Osorio Serrano.

Amanda Anisimova, Claro Open Colsanitas, Bogota

"I don’t think I’ve ever played so many three-set matches in one week, and in so many of them, I was down a set. That really helped my mental strength, and so I’m feeling really good mentally after getting through all these matches.

"I’ve played a lot on clay throughout my junior career, and a lot in South America, as well. I was feeling very confident, even if I wasn’t able to play the clay season last year because of my injury. I’m really excited to play on clay again because it’s my favorite surface. This is a huge boost for Europe."

Planning to play a strong slate of tournaments starting at the Mutua Madrid Open and ending at Roland Garros, Anisimova will be a different player from the 15-year-old who made her Grand Slam main draw debut on the terre battue two years ago.

"I’m just getting started, and this was a great opportunity, so I’m really happy that I’m healthy this year. I’m really looking forward to Paris."