Amanda Anisimova, Taylor Fritz and American dreams at Wimbledon

Products You May Like

LONDON — Amanda Anisimova won her fourth-round match at Wimbledon on Monday, and then asked her coach how her fellow American players were faring at the tournament.

He broke the news to her: She was the only countrywoman left standing and one of two Americans remaining in the singles draws, joining Taylor Fritz, who won earlier in the day.

She couldn’t believe it.

“[It’s] kind of surprising to me because we just have such a strong team of girls from America that are doing so well right now,” Anisimova said. “But I’m happy at least Taylor won today for the Fourth of July.”

Anisimova, 20, and Fritz, 24, are now the United States’ last remaining hopes for the singles trophies at the All England Club, and each will play in the quarterfinals Wednesday. The two have experienced the highs and lows of life as a professional tennis player, and while both believe they have more to achieve this week, neither could help but feel grateful for what they’ve already accomplished.

“All the hard work I’ve been putting in, all the things I’ve been doing, it’s paying off,” Fritz said Monday. “It feels amazing. Doesn’t even seem real. I’m in the Wimbledon quarterfinal.

“Things like this I’ve kind of worked for my whole life. It’s great to kind of soak it in and feel like everything’s kind of — the work’s paying off and I’m moving in the right direction.”

Anisimova made her breakthrough at the French Open in 2019, reaching the semifinals as a 17-year-old. The attention was immediate, and she became a front-runner as the future face of American tennis for when Serena and Venus Williams inevitably retired. But the sisters are still playing, and Anisimova has yet to reach that stage of a major since.

Instead, as other American women have stepped into the spotlight, she’s dealt with tragedy and bad luck.

Just months later, a week before the US Open, Anisimova’s father, Konstantin, who had also been her coach, died unexpectedly of a heart attack. She withdrew from the tournament and didn’t play much the rest of the year. She returned for the 2020 season, but much of the play that year was suspended and impacted by the pandemic.

Anisimova tested positive for COVID-19 at the start of the 2021 season and was unable to play in the Australian Open. She lost in the first round at both the French Open and Wimbledon. Her ranking plummeted to No. 78 by the end of the year. But this season have been different. She reached the final at a tournament in Melbourne to start the year, and at the Australian Open she beat Naomi Osaka, the defending champion, to reach the fourth round. There was a semifinal appearance in Charleston and another round of 16 in Paris.

But Wimbledon has been the site of her best tennis so far, and this time she knows how special that is.

“I think when I was 17, I didn’t really appreciate getting to the semifinals as much as I probably should, Anisimova said after her 6-2, 6-3 victory over Harmony Tan on Monday. “It only soaked in I think like a year later, understanding what that was, how much it actually meant to me. Yeah, just having over a year of not very good results, it really affects you. It motivates me a lot to train harder and just work harder.

“But when you have losses every week in early rounds, it’s very hard to find that motivation. I just kept going. It just took longer than I thought it would. That’s why it means so much to me now for having a great year this year.”

Like for Anisimova, the expectations have long been high for Fritz. A heralded junior player, he won the 2015 US Open title and was a finalist at the French Open the same year. He reached his first ATP final in Memphis in 2016 and cracked the top 100 soon after. In the star-starved world of American male tennis — in which Andy Roddick remains the last countryman to have won a Grand Slam title, in 2003 — Fritz seemed like he might just be the next true hope.

Fritz won his first title at Eastbourne in 2019 and reached two more 250-level finals by the year’s end. His ranking would continue to rise, but he didn’t win another title for almost three years and he struggled on the sport’s biggest stages. He had never advanced past the third round at a major entering this season. Along the way, there have been injuries, including a torn meniscus in the 2021 French Open — he left the court in a wheelchair — and a left foot issue earlier this spring, as well as doubts about his toughness and ability to win when it counts.

But things have started clicking for Fritz this year. He reached the round of 16 at the Australian Open and went on to win the title at Indian Wells in March in a straight-sets final against Rafael Nadal. He called it a “crazy childhood dream,” and he surged to a career-high ranking of No. 13. Last month he won his second title on the grass at Eastbourne. During his run at the All England Club, he’s the only remaining male player who is yet to drop a set. He’s the first American man to reach the quarters at a Grand Slam since Tennys Sandgren at the Australian Open in 2020, and the first having not lost a set since Roddick did so at Wimbledon in 2007.

“I’m playing a very solid, consistent level of tennis,” Fritz said Monday after a 6-3, 6-1, 6-4 win over Jason Kubler on Monday. “I’m not playing too many bad games, not too many, I guess, hiccups in the matches where I kind of just go off. I’m playing a very, very solid, consistent level of tennis.”

While they’ve impressed with their perseverance and fight thus far, it won’t be easy for either Anisimova or Fritz to advance to the semifinals. Anisimova is playing 2019 Wimbledon champion Simona Halep, who appeared in resurgent form in her 60-minute rout of Paula Badosa on Monday, and Fritz is again taking on Nadal, the 22-time major champion and one of the greatest players in history.

Anisimova defeated Halep in their first career meeting, during the quarterfinals at Roland Garros in 2019, but has lost their two other matches, including last month at Bad Homburg.

“I know this will be a really tough match coming up, but I’m looking forward to it,” Anisimova said. “I’m sure we’ll both put up a really good fight.”

Fritz has a split record with Nadal at 1-1, and he won their most recent meeting, at Indian Wells. But acknowledging Nadal was dealing with a rib injury that day and Wednesday being a best-of-five-set match, he knows it will be an uphill battle. Still, like Anisimova, he seemed more than up for the challenge and ready to rise to the potentially career-defining occasion.

“I feel like decision-making is easy [against Nadal], Fritz said. “I don’t really second-guess shots like I would if I’m playing someone that I’m supposed to beat. I might think like, ‘Should I go for this, should I play it safe?’ Against someone like Rafa, it’s easy to always make the aggressive decision and kind of, like, play freer …

“I know I’m going to have to bring a certain level. Just knowing that I will have to play a certain level, I know that I will play better.”

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Alles wat je moet weten over de French Open 2024
Elena Rybakina spreekt over haar rivaliteit met Iga Swiatek en Aryna Sabalenka
Iga Swiatek: Een Kracht om Rekening Mee te Houden op Roland Garros
Rafael Nadal en Novak Djokovic reageren op de loting van Roland Garros
Andy Murray reflecteert op zijn prestaties op Roland Garros