Amanda Anisimova broke her second-round duck at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia with a hard-fought 7-6(4), 6-1 upset of No.12 seed Belinda Bencic in 1 hour and 46 minutes.
The American had lost in the second round in each of her previous three appearances in Rome, but kept her cool in the midday heat to defeat Bencic for the second time this year. Anisimova also posted a 6-2, 7-5 win in the second round of the Australian Open.
A last-16 debutante was guaranteed, as Bencic had also suffered three previous second-round losses in Rome. Anisimova will face either No.7 seed Danielle Collins or unseeded 2020 champion Simona Halep in that round.
Match management: A narrowly-contested, 72-minute marathon of an opening set proved crucial. Anisimova led at almost every stage, but Bencic invariably found her best form when trailing to prevent the 19-year-old from taking real control.
After Anisimova navigated a total of seven deuces to build a 2-0 lead, Bencic pegged her back to 2-2 in double-quick time with focused, first-strike tennis. The Swiss also saved a break point serving at 3-4, a set point serving at 4-5, and a second set point at 5-6.
But Bencic could not convert two break points of her own at 5-5, and in the ensuing tiebreak handed the initiative to Anisimova with a double fault and misjudging a serve that was called good. Anisimova, whose ball-striking had drawn gasps at times, took full advantage, reaching a third set point with her biggest forehands of the day and sealing her fourth with a service winner.
The No.32-ranked Anisimova finally managed to pull away from Bencic in the second set, keeping her game watertight to hold on to the momentum. Bencic, by contrast, lapsed into wild unforced errors and tallied six double faults.
A mid-set flurry of winners from the Charleston champion to regain one of the breaks merely delayed Anisimova’s victory slightly, and the teenager finished in style with a sumptuous forehand return winner.
Rybakina eases past Davis
Elena Rybakina was another early winner on Day 3. The Kazakh reached the third round of Rome for the second time in as many appearances with a 6-4, 6-3 defeat of qualifier Lauren Davis in 1 hour and 34 minutes.
Rybakina found her break lead pegged back by the valiant Davis twice in the first set before eventually closing it out. But once the World No.17 had emerged on top of a six-deuce tussle to hold in the first game of the second set, she rode her momentum to another break of the American’s serve, and rolled to victory from there.