Tough Open for rising American Anisimova

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A grieving Amanda Anisimova’s grand slam return ended in tears with the American rising star falling in the Australian Open first round on Tuesday.

The 18-year-old was playing her first major since the shock death of her father and long-time coach Konstantin Anisimov, who suffered a heart attack just before the 2019 US Open.

Anisimova had just announced herself as a contender, upsetting defending champion and world No.3 Simona Halep in the quarter-finals of the French Open.

She then lost to eventual champion Ashleigh Barty in a dramatic final-four showdown, coming from 0-5 to win the first set before the Australian prevailed in a career-defining win.

Earmarked for a big future, Anisimova signed a mega long-term deal with Nike that was reported to be the largest ever for a teenager and comparable to that of former great Maria Sharapova’s eight-year, $102 million deal.

Reaching the fourth round at Melbourne Park in 2019, Anisimova’s hopes of a repeat this year were dashed with the 21st seed was upset by world No.73 Zarina Diyas of kazakhstan 6-3 4-6 6-3.

Anisimova broke down in a post-match media conference when asked how she was managing in her career without her father.

“Things are still pretty tough but I was excited to play in the Australian Open as it’s my favourite grand slam,” she said.

“I have good memories from it.”

The teenager said her preparation had been hampered by a shoulder injury, which had restricted her training.

“It’s very frustrating but it’s nice to get back to work and you only learn from days like this,” she said.

“I feel like I didn’t get enough preparation in as I was missing some practice days with a shoulder injury but it’s a bit better now and I’m just happy it’s not too serious and I can keep working.”

Anisimova is now working with Carlos Rodriguez, the long-time former mentor of Justine Henin who also lost a parent.

Their contract was due to expire after the Open but Anisimova said she hoped to continue the partnership.

Anisimova’s Open campaign isn’t completely over, with the American set to partner Nick Kyrgios in the mixed doubles.

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