USA’s Amanda Anisimova had denied Australia’s Astra Sharma a fairytale ending in Bogota. Anisimova claimed her first WTA title by defeating Sharma 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
Sharma had gone to Bogota with just one main draw victory in her career, that coming at the 2019 Australian Open. She had just yesterday won the doubles title with Zoe Hives.
In the singles final against 17-year-old world no. 76 it was Sharma that got a break in the opening game. The first break point coming when Anisimova reached for a forehand that she then hit long for 30-40. A forehand winner sealed the game.
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Photo: Amanda Anisimova (right) of the United States and Astra Sharma of Australia with the trophies during day 7 of the WTA Claro Open Colsanitas 2019 at El Carmel Club on April 14 2019 in Bogota Colombia. (Photo by Luis Ramirez/Vizzor Image/Getty Images)
An instant break back was on the cards when Anisimova hit with power to force an error from Sharma to earn three break points. A forehand sent long by Sharma conceded the break to level the score at 1-1.
Both players were having trouble finding their range, but Sharma did sweetly time a forehand return to hit deep and force an error from Anisimova to again earn break points at 15-40. Another error from the American when she hit into the net gave Sharma a second break.
Anisimova had a chance to break back immediately, and she did with a forehand winner to make it four games in a row without a service hold.
After seeing Anisimova hit long, Sharma had a chance to break for the third straight game. A double fault from the young American handed the game to Sharma.
Sharma hit her first Ace of the match to go to 30-0 in the sixth game. That was followed up by a double-fault. A good wide serve setup a short ball for Sharma to hit away for a 40-15 score. A Sharma shot sent well long after some good hitting from Anisimova saw the score at 40-30 but another good first serve saw someone finally hold serve. Sharma was now up 4-2.
In the next service game, Anisimova was finally able to hold serve. Sharma would go from 40-15 to facing a break point in the next service game. With the American hitting with more authority, she forced an error from her opponent to get back on serve.
As we had seen many times in the first set, Anisimova was again broken after several errors despite fighting back from 0-40 to deuce. A backhand sent wide conceded the game to allow Sharma to serve at 5-4.
An Ace and two forehand winners helped the Australian hold serve to love and take the first set 6-4.
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Photo: Amanda Anisimova of the United States returns the ball against Astra Sharma of Australia during day 7 of the WTA Claro Open Colsanitas 2019 at El Carmel Club on April 14 2019 in Bogota Colombia. (Photo by Luis Ramirez/Vizzor Image/Getty Images)
During this week, Anisimova had twice lost the opening set 6-4 before fighting back to win the next two sets. She did that in the opening round against Sabine Lisicki and in the semifinal against Beatriz Haddad Maia, she would have to pull that off for a third time to earn her first WTA title.
Things got off to the worst possible start in the second set for Anisimova when she was again broken. Some loose shots contributing to the break.
Sharma served her fourth Ace of the match to move to 40-30, another Ace gave her the game for 2-0. The title was looking likely to be claimed by the Australian.
The Australian missed an easy shot at 30-0 to the American. She followed up with two great points to move to 40-30, before hitting long to see the American get a crucial hold. Things may have been different if she landed the shot in court at 30-0.
Anisimova’s coach Jamie Cortés gave her some advice before Sharma came out to serve at 2-1. He said as the match progresses you will get more feeling and keep improving, he also said you will break several times.
A drop shot from Anisimova helped her win the opening point, then a shot into the net from Sharma saw the American at 0-30. A double fault saw Sharma suddenly facing three break points. Sharma would save one, but then she hit just wide to concede the game.
Anisimova was again under pressure on serve as she was twice taken to deuce before badly missing a shot that hit the back fence to go down a break point. She answered with a big forehand that forced an error from Sharma. Anisimova was swinging freely to pressure Sharma and she missed another shot for Ad to the American.
Sharma found the line and then Anisimova hit long for deuce, another missed shot and again Sharma had a break point. She got the break as Anisimova hit into the net.
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Photo: Astra Sharma of Australia prepares to serves to Amanda Anisimova of the United States during day 7 of the WTA Claro Open Colsanitas 2019 at El Carmel Club oon April 14 2019 in Bogota Colombia. (Photo by Luis Ramirez/Vizzor Image/Getty Images)
The Australian was now ready to serve at 3-2. At 30-15 she served her fifth double fault, then her sixth to face a break point at 30-40. A tired-looking shot went wide from Sharma and Anisimova was back on level terms at 3-3.
Perhaps the heavy workload was starting to affect Sharma, she had played doubles as well, winning the title.
Anisimova, on the other hand, had a spring in her step and she finally won a service game easily to lead 4-3.
Sharma opened the eighth game with a double fault. The next point saw the American racing all over the court to stay in the point, she finally stepped into court to cut off a Sharma volley and hit it into an open court for 0-30. Back-to-back shots into the net from Anisimova got the Australian back to 30-30. Another netted shot from Anisimova, then a shot over the baseline and Sharma was able to hold to tie the set at 4-4.
Sharma turned defence into an attack to win the opening point of the ninth game. Anisimova answered with a big winner. Sharma was equal to the task, blasting a return to force an error for 15-30. A good first serve saw Anisimova get to 30-30 before badly missing a backhand to face a break point.
If Sharma could convert she would be serving for her first WTA title. Sharma hit the return wide, the Anisimova attacked on the next point to move to Ad. Sharma hit the next return into the net to see the American escape and move to 5-4.
At 15-15 some big hitting had Sharma on the run and she missed a shot to fall to 15-30. Anisimova then hit a backhand that skipped through onto the line to give her two break points. It took just one as Sharma hit a midcourt shot over the baseline.
Anisimova opened the deciding set and held serve to lead 1-0. In the next game Sharma again served a double fault to face a break point. A shot into the net and it was Anisimova that was out to a 2-0 lead.
Sharma was handed two break back points after Anisimova sent a shot over the baseline. Sharma wasted them both when she hit back-to-back shots into the net. Anissimova was at Ad after Sharma hit long.
Anisimova survived from 15-40 down to take the game after a good first serve had Sharma reached for the ball, she sent it sailing wide.
The pressure was on Sharma to mount a comeback from 3-0. The Australian was down a break point at 30-40, the American hit the return over the baseline, then another shot went long to give Sharma Ad. A missed shot from Sharma had the score at deuce before an Ace gave her game point. A bad miss saw her hit into the net for another deuce.
A shot that went wide from Anisimova gave Sharma another Ad but she again hit into the net to fail to close out the game. A stunning winner got the Australian another game point which she finally converted to get on the scoreboard in the deciding set.
Anisimova had a love service game to move another step closer to the title.
Sharma was at 40-15 in the sixth game but failed to hold after Anisimova hit a winner for 40-30. A backhand winner got her to deuce. A double fault from Sharma saw her suddenly facing a break point. Anisimova hit long to keep Sharma in the game.
Sharma decided to hit a slice approach but it was an easy shot for Anisimova to hit the pass. When Sharma hit into the net Anisimova was on the brink of her first title with a double break and serving for the championship.
She would hold two match points at 40-15 but hit long on the first. On the second match point a good first serve sent Sharma wide. Anisimova played a drop shot which Sharma reached and also hit a drop shot. Eventually, Anisimova would find the open court to claim her first WTA title. The final score was 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.
With a fist pump as she looked across at her coach the Bogota title was hers.
“It was an incredible atmosphere,” said Sharma. “It was my first time playing in a final like this and just such a memorable experience.
“I’d like to thank everybody back home – my coaches, my family and my friends, who have been sending me all these messages of love and support. It has been an unreal experience.”
It was not the highest quality match, but Anisimova is still champion. The winners were 19 to the American and 17 for the Australian. The unforced errors overshadowed winners with 34 for Anisimova and 36 from Sharma. What hurt Sharma was 11 double faults.
It was a great week for both players. Sharma announced herself as she went all the way to the final and Anisimova claimed what will most likely be the first of many WTA titles.
Sharma now sits at her career high of no. 102 on the rankings while Anisimova jumped to a career-high no. 54. She is the highest ranked 17-year-old.