Auckland | Anisimova makes winning return

Amongst the names returning to the WTA Tour is Amanda Anisimova, who got off the mark with a convincing 7-5 6-4 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the 1st-round of the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, on New Year’s Day.

I knew that it was going to be a really tough match playing against her, and I'm just happy that I was able to pull off the win and play some good tennis. Amanda Anisimova

Anisimova, the former World No 21 and 2019 Roland Garros semi-finalist, was playing her first match since a 1st-round loss to Arantxa Rus in Madrid 8 months ago and then took a mental health break.

In her come-back match at the WTA 250 event, the 22-year-old American took an hour and 55 minutes to oust 2021 Roland Garros finalist Pavlyuchenkova, marking her first win since beating another Russian, Vera Zvonareva, at Dubai last February.

“I knew that it was going to be a really tough match playing against her, and I’m just happy that I was able to pull off the win and play some good tennis,” Anisimova said on court after her match.

The two power hitters were strong on return as the match began, with 6 of the first 8 games going against serve.

Anisimova grabbed the 7th break of the opening frame to lead 6-5 after a Pavlyuchenkova backhand flew wide, and the American closed out the set in the following game with a second-serve ace.

She raced out to a 5-1 lead in the second, but the former World No 11 narrowed the gap, winning 3 games on the trot to pull things back to 4-5.

Serving for the match for a second time, Anisimova saw double match point slip away, but she set up a third match point with a forehand winner, and fired her 6th ace of the day to gain her first win of 2024.

Anisimova now holds a 2-0 record against Pavlyuchenkova, having also notched a straight-sets win in their previous meeting at Indian Wells in 2018.

Marie Bouzkova beat Magdalena Frech to set up a 2nd-round meeting with Amanda Anisimova in Auckland

© Dave Rowland/Getty Images

The American wild-card will next take on Marie Bouzkova, the No 5 seed from the Czech Republic, in round 2, which will be their first career meeting.

Bouzkova edged past Poland’s Magdalena Frech, 6-0 3-6 6-4 earlier on Monday.

In other 1st-round results from Monday, No 3 seed Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine beat American qualifier Sachia Vickery, 7-5 6-4, while Emma Navarro, the 4th seed from the United States, defeated Czech teenager, Linda Fruhvirtova, a qualifier, 2-6 6-4 6-2.

In round 2, Tsurenko takes on Diane Parrey from France, who found her way past American Emina Bektas, 6-7(4) 7-5 6-3, while Navarro will meet Elina Avanesyan , a 7-6(2) 6-2 winner over local wild-card Monique Barry.

No 6 seed Wang Xinyu took out Yulia Putintseva of Kazakhstan, 6-4 7-5, and will face her fellow Chinese compatriot Wang Xiyu, who squeaked past Romanian Jaqueline Cristian, 6-1 5-7 7-6(3).



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