MELBOURNE, Jan 21 — Unseeded American Amanda Anisimova said she was just “soaking in the moment” after stunning defending Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka in the third round today.

The 20-year-old scored one of the biggest wins of her career in toppling the Japanese superstar 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (10/5) at Melbourne Park.

It set up a clash with world number one Ashleigh Barty, a repeat of their 2019 French Open semi-final that the Australian won and went on to lift the title.

“I just want to soak in this moment. I’m just extremely happy. It was an amazing match. There were a bit of nerves and to play Naomi for the first time, it’s unreal, honestly,” said the 60th-ranked Anisimova.

“It sucks we couldn’t both win today.”

Anisimova also sprang an upset with a forceful second-round victory over Tokyo Olympic champion Belinda Bencic.

The American, who has snapped a nine-match losing streak against top-20 players, said her latest scalp was all the more special because it was against former world number one Osaka, a “really inspiring” player.

“What she’s done the last couple of years is amazing and just how authentic she is. I think she’s just great, really fresh for the tour. I think she’s really funny and sweet,” she said.

“It was really cool to finally play her today. She has a really big game so I knew that I really had to step it up and try to be as aggressive as I could.”

A rejuvenated Anisimova has had a difficult few years — after reaching the French Open semi-final against Barty her father died of a heart attack and her form slumped.

But with Simona Halep’s ex-coach Darren Cahill now guiding her she is looking forward to a positive year.

“He tries to help me stay calm and relaxed and just gave me the confidence going into this match today, just believing in myself and knowing that I can do it,” she said. — AFP