American teenager Amanda Anisimova upset Elina Svitolina in straight sets at the Qatar Total Open in Doha, earning herself the biggest win of her new season as a string of lower seeds were dispatched in their opening matches on Monday.
Every opponent here is a tough player, but when I go out to play a top 10 player I know I just have to be focused for every point because they can turn the match around at any time, so I just have to really stay zoned into the match Amanda Anisimova
“I love playing here, I love this stadium and the crowd is just great, so I’m glad I get to see everyone again in the next round,” said Anisimova after registering her first win over a top 10 rival since the French Open last May.
USA’s Alison Riske, seeded 13, fell to compatriot Jennifer Brady, 7-6(10) 1-6 7-6(3), in a match that lasted 2 hours and 47 minutes; while Croatian Petra Martic, a semi-finalist in Dubai last week and seeded 10, lost 4-6 6-1 6-2 to Czech Barbora Strycova.
Poland’s Iga Swiatek, another talented teenager, took out Croatian 17th seed Donna Vekic, 6-4 7-5, and China’s Saisai Zheng came from behind to see off Czech Marketa Vondrousova, seeded 12, 1-6 6-3 6-2.
As the underdog, Anisimova usurped 5th-seeded Svitolina, 6-3 6-3, in the second round, taking just over an hour to dispatch the Ukrainian, who was a semi-finalist at both Wimbledon and Roland Garros last year.
“I think the most important thing was just staying focused and clearing my head, just not putting too much pressure on myself and just trying to enjoy,” Anisimova explained after the match. “So I’m really happy to be back and kind of playing my own tennis again.”
Fresh off a win over rising Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova in the first round, the 18-year-old saved 2 break points in the 3rd game of the opening set to turn the tables on Svitolina, a semi-finalist at this event last year.
Nabbing the only break of the set, Anisimova held on to clinch the opener on her second opportunity.
The second moved in similar fashion as the Ukrainian earned another break chance on the Anisimova serve, only to find herself on the back foot as the World No 29 took a 0-40 lead 2 games later.
While Svitolina battled back to deuce, Anisimova was undeterred, breaking serve and moving ahead 5-3, breaking again for the match.
“Every opponent here is a tough player, but when I go out to play a top 10 player I know I just have to be focused for every point because they can turn the match around at any time, so I just have to really stay zoned into the match,” she said.
In the next round she will play either Svetlana Kuznetsova or and Polish teenager Iga Swiatek.
Elena Rybakina continued her glittering start to 2020, backing up her 2 runner-up finishes in the last 2 weeks with another opening round victory over Sorana Cirstea, 3-6 6-3 6-1, her 20th win of the season.
“I’m just working hard, always trying to fight. It wasn’t an easy match today and we both played well. I’m just happy to be in the second round,” Rybakina said during her on-court interview.
“Hopefully I can keep making finals and finally win another,” the 20-year-old Kazakh said after her win.
Rybakina twice fell a break of serve behind before the Romanian closed out the opening set.
Her thunderous backhand swung the match around and she will meet Belgium’s Alison Van Uytvanck in the next round, who dispatched Polona Hercog in straight sets on Sunday.
Other winners on Monday included Kiki Bertens, the 7th seed, who beat Karolina Muchova, 6-2 6-4, to reach the 3rd round; and Maria Sakkari and Anett Kontaveit who progressed into round 2.