By Arthur Kapetanakis
Much has changed for Amanda Anisimova since she competed last year in San Jose at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic. Playing in the event's inaugural edition at its new home during the 2018 US Open Series, the now 17-year-old American battled through qualifying in her first appearance back from a foot injury that sidelined her for four months and stalled her breakout season. She ultimately reached the main-draw second round, where she fell to eventual champ Mihaela Buzarnescu in three sets.
Now, she returns as the No. 4 seed and a French Open semifinalist, with her first WTA title—won in Bogota, Colombia, in April—in tow. Thanks to a career-high ranking of No. 23 and her San Jose seeding, Anisimova earned a bye into the second round. With a good result, the Top 20 beckons. With time (and maybe not much of it), she has the game to challenge her Roland Garros rivals Simona Halep and Ashleigh Barty atop the WTA ranks.
Ahead of her return to the U.S. hard courts, Anisimova chatted with USOpenSeries.com about her French Open run, playing in the States, the new wave of American talent on the WTA and more.
USOpenSeries.com: A lot has changed for you since one year ago in San Jose. How does it feel to come back to the U.S. as one of the stars of the show?
Amanda Anisimova: For sure, a year ago I would not have been in this position right now. I was always super hopeful throughout my injury, and I had a lot of motivation from the success I had at Indian Wells. I was just working super hard, and to have the accomplishments I had this year just feels really amazing and it motivates me even more.
USOpenSeries.com: Do you feel a little more attention this time around, a bit of a buzz around you?
Amanda Anisimova: No, I honestly don’t really feel any different than last year. Just that I’m playing [directly] in the main draw this time. Everything is really the same; it pretty much feels like the same tournament as it was last year. I’m hopeful for the tournament, and I’ve been training hard, so we’ll just see how it goes. I don’t have any expectation for myself.
USOpenSeries.com: It’s always a pretty quick transition from the French Open to Wimbledon. Now that you’ve had some time to regroup and reflect, how do you look back on your French Open semifinal run?
Amanda Anisimova: It was very surprising to me, obviously, getting to the semis. I think it was super cool that I got to play Simona. That was honestly something I’ll remember forever, to have the opportunity to play against her. It was an amazing feeling. What I did that day, I’m really proud of it, and it really showed that my hard work paid off.
USOpenSeries.com: You’ve now had almost a full month without a WTA match, although you played some World TeamTennis last week and the exhibition with Danielle Collins in Newport, R.I. How did you spend that time off? I saw from your Twitter that you tried golf for the first time?
Amanda Anisimova: It feels really good to be back in the States and to be back at home because I was gone for so long. I got to see my friends, hang out with them, and there was a really nice resort where we were, so I played some golf, some basketball. It was really nice.
Meanwhile, I was training super hard. But in the afternoons, I got to do some fun stuff.
US Open Series.com: Being back in the U.S., what does it mean to you to be able to play in front of your home fans?
Amanda Anisimova: I’m so excited for the US Open Series. It’s super nice to have the American fans out here and just to play in the States. Especially the US Open, it’s a feeling that you can’t really describe. It feels super electric, and the fans go crazy, and I love it. So I can’t wait for that.
USOpenSeries.com: Is it a little extra special in New York as a former girls’ singles champion in 2017?
Amanda Anisimova: It was a really nice memory that I had, especially winning it as an American. It was the only junior Slam that I won, and I finished off my junior career on that. It was very special to me, so every time I come back to the US Open there’s really good memories, and I always look forward to playing it.
USOpenSeries.com: What are your goals this year for the US Open Series and the US Open?
Amanda Anisimova: I’ve been training very hard, and I’m looking forward a lot to the US Open Series, the upcoming tournaments. Hopefully I do well here and it prepares me for the US Open. I’m looking forward to all of the next upcoming weeks. It should be good.
USOpenSeries.com: Do you prefer to go day by day instead of setting concrete goals at tournaments or in the rankings?
Amanda Anisimova: Yeah, I don’t really think about goals. I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I just work hard, as much as I can every day. And I feel like that’s what’s going to show. So, yeah, just see what happens.
USOpenSeries.com: As one of many young American women doing so well right now—outside of Serena Williams, there are five younger Americans in the Top 35 and rising, and of course Coco Gauff is coming up—what is it like to be a part of this new generation of talent?
Amanda Anisimova: There are a lot of great players in this new generation, and I think that’s amazing. We have a great group of players on the tour right now, from Coco to Serena. There’s just a whole mix of us. I think it’s really cool that, especially in American tennis, there are a lot of younger girls that are doing really well, and it’s great to have that because we support each other. It’s really cool just to have a strong American team.