Osaka yields to Anisimova, fumbles Australian Open title defense

By Crisdenmar Dela Cruz

PHOTO: WTA

Dethroned.

Twenty-four-year-old Naomi Osaka failed to defend her Australian Open title after suffering a third-round exit to World no. 60 Amanda Anisimova of the United States, Saturday (PST) at Margaret Court Arena.

The two-time champion Osaka wasted her ticket to the quarterfinals and two match points in the 10th and 12th game of the decisive third set, committing netted balls that gave Anisimova a golden opportunity to extend the match.

The 20-year-old Amanda sent out an early statement that she would not back down in crucial moments of the match as she delivered an astonishing 10-5 finish, eventually winning 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(10-5).

“I knew I had to be playing sharp if I wanted to give myself a chance. Naomi is always going to be playing well, she is an absolute champion” said Anisimova.

Playing like a well-oiled machine in the opening set, Osaka dictated the pace in the first two games of the opener, getting her momentum and eagerness to advance in the next round.

But those moments never materialized-- Anisimova began to find her rhythm, countering Osaka’s powerful shots with her gritty groundstrokes. 

Anisimova, in the second set, changed her style of playing and became more aggressive to stop the red-hot powerful blows of Osaka.

Then, the New Jersey-born-Anisimova's crucial hold came at the 4-5 of the deciding set, when she stepped on the gas in the two-match points, thanks to Osaka’s error and Amanda’s flawless tie-break shot changer.

“I’m speechless, I can’t stop smiling,” Anisimova added after the tough match.

The American pride will face the home-crowd favorite and world’s no.1, Ashleigh Barty in the quarterfinals match.



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