American young gun, Amanda Anisimova attempts to reach her first semi-final since last year's French Open when she plays Canadian, Eugenie Bouchard in Auckland on Friday.
Both Anisimova and Bouchard were beaten in the Auckland quarter finals last season; one of them will definitely improve on that result in 2020.
Last year, Anisimova defeated Jana Cepelova and Barbora Strycova but fell to Viktoria Kuzmova in the last eight. She backed up that third Auckland performance with a fine fourth round run at the Australian Open, scoring a big win over in-form Aryna Sabalenka before falling to Petra Kvitova in the Round of 16.
The teenager would later claim her maiden career title in Bogota, before producing that terrific fortnight at Roland Garros, where she beat Sabalenka again, and sensationally took out defending champion, Simona Halep in the quarter finals before falling short against Ashleigh Barty in the last four.
Anisimova played just five more tournaments after the French Open, with the second half of her season disrupted by injury and the unfortunate passing away of her father and coach, Konstantin. She reached a career high ranking of No. 21 last season, and finish the year at 24th in the world.
The 18-year-old opened her 2020 season with a 6-3 6-4 victory over Kateryna Kozlova in Auckland, and followed it up beating Daria Kasatkina 6-2 6-4 to claim consecutive wins for the first time since June last year. Can she make it three wins in a row for the first time since Roland Garros when she faces former Wimbledon finalist, Eugenie Bouchard for the first time on Friday?
Bouchard has also moved through the Auckland draw without dropping a set, opening with a 7-5 7-5 victory over Kirsten Flipkens, and taking out former world No. 4, Caroline Garcia 6-4 6-4 in the second round.
The Canadian is into her first tour-level quarter final since she made the last eight at this same tournament last year, when she defeated Madison Brengle and Bibiane Schoofs before falling to Julia Georges in the last eight.
Following that Auckland run, Bouchard reached the second round of the Australian Open and in Dubai, but she did not win another main draw match for the rest of the year. She didn’t play for three months after Indian Wells due to health problems, but returned to action at Roland Garros. The former world No. 5 lost ten consecutive matches at all levels after her comeback, but she snapped that losing streak with a quarter final run at the WTA 125K tournament in Houston in November.
Ranked 83rd at the start of last season, Bouchard was outside the top-200 by the end of the year, and is now at 262nd in the world. She is projected to get back into the top-200 if she makes the semis in Auckland. Amanda Anisimova is the hurdle in her way.
Anisimova and Bouchard similarly aggressive players, and will constantly alternate winners and unforced errors between them. This one will now have too many long rallies. Both players have not won too many matches in the last few months, but Anisimova has generally been operating at a higher level for the past year, and should be too strong for the former Wimbledon finalist.