'Worst thing ever': Amanda Anisimova's comeback from devastating tragedy

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Amanda Anisimova has recaptured her best tennis after the sudden and tragic passing of her father in August 2019. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)
Amanda Anisimova has recaptured her best tennis after the sudden and tragic passing of her father in August 2019. (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP via Getty Images)

The 2022 Australian Open has been filled with comeback stories, but few might be as powerful as Amanda Anisimova's.

Tipped as one of the next big things in women's tennis after achieving a career-high ranking of world No.21 in 2019, the 20-year-old's pathway to the top was soon derailed.

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Anisimova had been on a tear in 2019, winning her first WTA title and making it to the French Open semi-finals, where she was stopped by eventual champion Ash Barty.

Things came crashing down in August of that year when Anisimova's father and former coach Konstantin died suddenly just before the US Open.

Aged just 52, his passing from a heart attack just a week before Anisimova turned 18 put her rise in the tennis world on hold.

She skipped the 2019 US Open, keeping a low profile for the rest of the year before returning to the court for the coronavirus-impacted 2020 season.

Though a dip in form was perfectly understandable given the personal tragedy and the unprecedented circumstances of the pandemic-interrupted tour, Anisimova believes she simply needed more time to rediscover her joy for the game.

“It was the worst thing that ever happened to me,” Anisimova said of her father Konstantin's death.

"It was very tough. I think definitely that’s the reason why I had a couple tough years playing tennis."

The 20-year-old said she had simply been trying to 'push it away' and says she felt some pressure not to let her breakout 2019 season be wasted.

Now though, she believes the experience has helped her mature into a better person and player.

“Because I feel like everyone wanted me to go on court, and I don’t know if I was fully there for that period," she said.

"Now that I look back at it, I think I’m starting to realise things and I see a lot clearer this year.

“I think I’ve grown a lot since then. It was just a very confusing time for me after that, and it was very long too. And I was just kind of lost.”

Amanda Anisimova, pictured here with father Konstantin at the US Open in 2017.
Amanda Anisimova with father Konstantin at the US Open in 2017. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

Aussie coach helping Anisimova plot Ash Barty's downfall

Aiding Anisimova in her WTA resurgence is Australian coach Darren Cahill - a highly regarded mentor who has worked with the likes of Simona Halep, Andre Agassi and Lleyton Hewitt.

All three went on to be the world No.1 at some point in their careers.

Having helped Anisimova to an impressive three-set win over Naomi Osaka to tee up the fourth-round clash with Barty, there's no doubt Cahill has helped the world No.60's game.

Little wonder former world No.1 John McEnroe is applauding Anisimova's luring of South Australian Cahill as the 20-year-old continues her revival after the sudden death of her father two weeks shy of her 18th birthday.

"Really happy for Anisimova, she's been through some tough times," McEnroe told Eurosport.

Amanda Anisimova stormed into the Australian Open fourth round thanks to an impressive victory over Naomi Osaka. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)
Amanda Anisimova stormed into the Australian Open fourth round thanks to an impressive victory over Naomi Osaka. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)

"She might be like Sharapova as a great ball striker but she doesn't move as well as some of the top players.

"The biggest change I've seen in her in the last month or two is the presence of Darren Cahill.

"He coached Lleyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi, Simone Halep. Well, guess what? All three of them reached world No.1 in the world.

"So this has been something Anisimova's been looking for, the right person to take her and get her where she belongs, which I believe is in the top 10.

"So this is a fantastic hire by her, a great moment for Amanda."

McEnroe is also happy for Cahill, his long-time commentary colleague at ESPN.

With AAP

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