Danielle Collins reached a Grand Slam final for the first time with a 6-4, 6-1 win over Iga Swiatek at the Australian Open.
The 28-year-old American will next face top-ranked Ash Barty for the title at Melbourne Park. Collins said she and Barty have “had some incredible battles” and the chance to take her on for the title at her home Grand Slam is going to be “spectacular.”
Collins broke the 2020 French Open champion’s serve in the first game of each set and raced to 4-0 leads in both. She hit 27 winners and had only 13 unforced errors.
The 27th-seeded Collins took only 78 minutes to beat the seventh-seeded Swiatek. Her forehand cross-court winner to set up her first match points was typical of her semifinal form. She hit 27 winners, had only 13 unforced errors and imposed her relentless energy on the match.
“It feels amazing. It has been such a journey. It is so many years of hard work,” Collins said, according to EuroSport. “(Wednesday) I spoke about all the early mornings my dad would get up and practice with me before school. It is incredible to be on this stage, especially after all the health challenges. I couldn’t be happier.”
Collins avoided the drama of earlier-round matches against Clara Tauson and Elise Mertens, when she needed to battle back after losing the first set to both opponents.
Collins’ run to the Australian Open semifinals in 2019 was her best previous result at a Grand Slam tournament.
Her fellow American, Madison Keys, did not fare nearly as well against Barty.
Keys was playing in the Australian Open semifinals for the first time since 2015, when she lost to eventual champion Serena Williams. That year was the last time a No. 1 seed won the women’s title at Melbourne Park.
Keys was on a career-best 10-match winning streak ahead of the semifinals, including a run to the title in a tune-up tournament in Adelaide — her first WTA title since 2019 — and a first-round win over 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin. Her full tally of 11 match wins this month already equals her total for 2021, when she dropped into the 50s in the rankings. She’s expected to return to the top 30 next week.
The stadium was limited to two-thirds capacity, with the state government allowing an increase from the earlier 50% restriction on ticketed courts late this week as part of the easing of rules in place for the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of the support in the first match, obviously, was for Barty. Chants of “Let’s go Barty, Let’s go!” — combined with coordinated clapping — were regular at each changeover, with pockets of fans wearing the yellow shirt synonymous with the Australian player scattered around arena. Rod Laver, the aging Australian tennis great, was in the stadium himself.
— With AP