The competition was fast-paced, the talent was elite and the crowd was lively. The Eisenhower Cup proved to be a perfect way to celebrate International Women's Day as the best female tennis players in the world put on a show at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on Tuesday night.
On the eve of the women's main draw for the 2022 BNP Paribas Open, eight of the top-ranked players in the world battled it out in the entertaining Tie Break Tens format, where the players don't play games or sets, just bracket-style matchups where the first one to 10 points wins.
There were a lot of laughs on the night, but the last laugh went to American Amanda Anisimova, who took home the $150,000 winner-take-all prize with a 10-7 win in the championship match over Maria Sakkari.
Not a bad day's work for Anisimova who wasn't even in the event at the start of the day, but filled in at the last second for Barbora Krejcikova who withdrew from the tournament with an elbow injury.
"I really enjoyed this event, it was very fun," said Anisimova. "Personally, I don't like playing very long so this was perfect for me. I'm playing well and most important I'm having fun."
Anisimova credited her participation in World Team Tennis for making her feel at home on Stadium 2, where the entire season was played in 2021. She also vowed to donate some of her prize money to a Ukrainian relief fund.
While Anisimova took home the oversize check and the crystal trophy, this night was a celebration of the women's game.
Approximately 5,000 spectators watched a group that also included the defending champion Paula Badosa, the 2018 champion Naomi Osaka, the 2015 champion Simona Halep, the top seed at this year's event Aryna Sabalenka, top-10 talents in Sakkari, Ons Jabeur and Leylah Fernandez who just won in Mexico two days prior, and rising American Anisimova.
The opening round saw Sabalenka defeat Halep, Sakkari defeat Jabeur, Badosa defeat Fernandez and Anisimova defeat Osaka.
Sakkari made the final by beating Sabalenka and Anisimova made the final by beating Badosa.
The players were serious while play was happening, but the exhibition featured a laid-back vibe as the competitors did rock-paper-scissors to decide who served.
Here were some memorable moments:
Ons Jabeur had fun after losing her first-round match, acting as towel girl, masseuse and spin class instructor for the rest of the players as there were stationary bicycles next to the court for the players to stay warm.
After Sabalenka defeated Halep in the first match of the night, on-court announcer Andrew Krasny congratulated Halep on her recent marriage and when it was Sabalenka's turn to talk she wanted to let the crowd know, "First thing. I'm not married."
Paula Badosa then trumped with a very strong hint to her boyfriend that she wouldn't mind being engaged at this time next year.
Osaka wore a North Carolina Courage soccer jersey during her match. She is a part owner of the National Women's Soccer League team, and she said she tries to boost female athletes whenever she can as others did for her as she was coming up. "It means a lot to me because people lifted me up as I was rising through the ranks of female sports, and it's like return what you receive," Osaka said. Continental soccer.
This is the second version of the Eisenhower Cup tie-break tens tournament as a lead-in to the BNP Paribas Open. The inaugural one happened in 2019 and was all men with Canadian Milos Raonic earning the win.
All ticket proceeds from the event will benefit local women's charitable organizations, and they definitely got a nice haul because the lower bowl of Stadium 2 was packed and there were long lines of patrons still trying to get in even as the event started.
Eisenhower Cup results
Aryna Sabalenka defeats Simona Halep 10-7
Maria Sakkari defeats Ons Jabeur 10-6
Paula Badosa defeats Leylah Fernandez 10-3
Amanda Anisimova defeats Naomi Osaka 10-3
Sakkari defeats Sabalenka 10-5
Anisimova defeats Badosa 10-6
Anisimova defeats Sakkari 10-7
This article originally appeared on Palm Springs Desert Sun: Eisenhower Cup: American Amanda Anisimova fills in and fills up her bank account