ASB Classic 2020: Amanda Anisimova to achieve 'life long-dream' with Serena Williams semi-final

The young American will face Serena Williams for a spot in the final.
The young American will face Serena Williams for a spot in the final. Photo credit: Photosport

Tennis great Serena Williams might have sidestepped 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff at Auckland's Australian Open lead-up event.

But another American stands between her and the final.

Williams will instead face another teenager in 18-year-old star-in-the-making Amanda Anisimova on Saturday in a semi-final of the ASB Classic.

"My biggest wish is to play her before she retires so this is honestly the happiest I've ever been," Anisimova said.

"It's been my life-long dream."

Anisimova defeated Eugenie Bouchard in Friday's late quarter final to set up the mouth-watering matchup, surviving a loss of concentration and five dropped serves in a row to hold out 6-2 3-6 6-4.

"The thought of playing Serena ... is what made it so nervous," she said.

"She's my idol. She's everyone's role model and I've had some personal moments with her.

"To get some experience playing a match against her is something I've been wishing my entire life."

Williams shared an intimate moment with Anisimova at last year's Miami Open, when the teen was crestfallen to give away a third-set 4-2 lead to lose to world No.19 Anett Kontaveit.

"I was super upset in the locker room," said Anisimova in May.

"Serena actually came up to me and we shared a little bit of a chat. That was really nice of her and I'll remember it forever."

Within two months of that loss, Anisimova starred with two breakout tournaments, beginning with the Bogota Open for her first WTA title in April.

Then she knocked out reigning French Open champion Simona Halep en route to the semi-finals at Roland Garros, losing a three-set arm-wrestle to eventual winner Ashleigh Barty.

Williams said she liked her compatriot, 20 years her junior, a lot.

"I think she's a sweet girl ... I know her game and as a person I think she's really cool," the 23-time major winner said.

While Anisimova marches on to another career high, one-time Wimbledon finalist Bouchard was left to rue another missed opportunity.

The Canadian, who endured a 13-match losing streak during a torrid 2019, battled back into the contest admirably but fell just short.

Bouchard is ranked 262 and appeared in Auckland courtesy of a wildcard.

The 25-year-old will have to win three qualifying matches at Melbourne Park if she is to feature in the Australian Open main draw for a seventh-straight time.

Saturday's other semi-final in Auckland pits retiring Dane Caroline Wozniacki against another American, 25-year-old Jessica Pegula.