Make no mistake, Amanda Anisimova is very much the real deal.
The American teenager has been dubbed the ‘next Maria Sharapova’ of tennis, and according to agent Max Eisenbud, that’s very much by design.
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Eisenbud is also Sharapova’s agent and believes the retired Russian has outlined the perfect blueprint for Anisimova to become a global superstar.
“Obviously, there are similarities, it's hard to go away from that,” Eisenbud, head of IMG Tennis, told CNN Sport.
“I am the agent, they're both very attractive, they both have Russian roots, all that kind of stuff. There are those similarities that will always be there. But they are very different personalities.”
The 18-year-old recently signed what’s believed to be a $100 million deal with Nike after her run to the 2019 French Open quarter-finals “really caught a lot of people's attention.”
In January, Anisimova joined Serena Williams as the only tennis players to be sponsored by Gatorade.
With Sharapova recently retired and Serena nearing the end of her career, Eisenbud says it’s Anisimova’s time to shine.
Anisimova using social media to her advantage
Eisenbud says the advent of social media will help Anisimova build a global brand to envy that of Sharapova.
“When Maria won in 2004, there was no social media, and now there is. That's a big difference,” he said.
“The brands want different things. It's all about what we're doing on social.
“She is just really down to earth. That personality trait can be attractive to a lot of brands ... but I think in the end, she is going to be a real big winner, and brands want to be associated with that.”
But it’s not just her off-court prescence that’s impressed the tennis world, with Serena’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou describing her as ‘the real deal’.
“She has incredible timing and every time she hits the ball, she hurts her opponent,” Mouratoglou told CNN.
“She can improve a lot in her movement and I'm sure she will. She is working hard; she has good people around so she'll be very dangerous.”
Anisimova changes coach after death of father
In February, Anisimova parted ways with new coach Carlos Rodriguez after just two tournaments together.
Rodriguez was brought in to coach Anisimova after the sudden death of the American teenager’s father and coach Konstantin last August.
Rodriguez coached Anisimova at the Auckland Open and Australian Open recently, where she lost in the first round at Melbourne Park.
She was then reduced to tears in a post-match press conference when asked about the death of her father.
The 18-year-old was playing her first major since her dad suffered a heart attack just before the 2019 US Open.
When a reporter asked if she was feeling ‘unsettled’, Anisimova replied: “Do we really have to talk about this so fast after a match”, before bursting into tears.
“Things are still pretty tough but I was excited to play in the Australian Open as it's my favourite grand slam,” she said after composing herself.
“I have good memories from it.”