Australian Open: Ashleigh Barty beats Danielle Collins in women’s final

The world number 1 completely dominated throughout the tournament and achieved a historic title without even giving up a set.

Australian tennis fans had to wait more than four decades for one of their own to be crowned Australian Open champions, and the latest home win came courtesy of Chris O’Neil.

Barty’s grand slam tally now stands at three (her previous titles were at the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon in 2021) and the 25-year-old is arguably the most dominant force on the women’s tour.

With most of his career likely still ahead of him, the only remaining question about Barty’s Grand Slam credentials is: how many?

“I’ve said numerous times that I’m so lucky tonight to have so many people here who love me and support me,” Barty said in his postgame interview. “I am a lucky girl and lucky to have so much love in my corner, we started together from the beginning. We did everything together, no one has changed from our team. I love you to death”.

“As an Australian, the most important part of this tournament is being able to share it with so many people and the crowd, you have been exceptional.

“This crowd is one of the funniest I’ve ever paid in front of and you guys brought me a lot of joy today and helped me play my best tennis, so thank you for all your love and support over the last few weeks.

“This is a dream come true for me and I am so proud to be an Australian. Until next time.”

READ: Rafael Nadal is one win away from a record Grand Slam title after reaching the Australian Open final

scorching start

Neither player showed any signs of nervousness in the opening stages and they traded some dizzying shots early on.

Collins’ signature backhand was giving Barty all sorts of trouble, and the Aussie was struggling to contain the powerful groundstroke as it slashed down the court from Rod Laver.

However, Barty was able to respond with her own serve, smashing an early 181km/h ace that outclassed her opponent and managed to save an early break point, much to the delight of the crowd.

The local partisan support certainly showed its loyalties early on, exploding every time Barty won a point. Then they were really given something to applaud in Collins’ third service game, as a couple of loose groundstrokes and a wild double fault gifted Barty with a break of serve.

That certainly helped release any tension Barty was still feeling, as the home favorite hit two more serves to claim the first set in no time.

Even the fact that Collins reached the final is one of the most notable comeback stories in tennis.

In April last year, she underwent emergency surgery for endometriosis, a condition in which the tissue lining the uterus grows outside of it, and suffered an abdominal injury at the French Open.

Danielle Collins started by dominating the second set.

The 28-year-old has spoken candidly about the excruciating pain she endured, describing it as some of the worst she has ever experienced.

Collins has credited the surgeon with saving her career and is now playing some of the best tennis of her life, with her run to the final in Melbourne projected to take her into the world top 10 for the first time.

Much credit must go to the player for remaining unfazed that a close first set slipped by so quickly.

The American often wears her heart on her sleeve on the pitch, but until now she had kept her emotions hidden on the biggest occasion of her career.

However, that changed at the start of the second set as Barty once again began to struggle with his opponent’s powerful punches, which now seemed to have a little more sting.

Two uncharacteristic errors by Barty in her opening service game of the set allowed Collins to break for the first time in the match.

The Rod Laver arena was largely silent, save for a roar from Collins. “Come on,” he yelled, fist clenched at his box.

It had been quite a noticeable change in momentum from the first set, with Collins now dominating almost every rallies.

The fans did their part to support Barty in the second set.

The crowd, sensing Barty’s nerves, did their best to get him back into the match; a forehand winner down the line was greeted with perhaps the loudest ovation of the night thus far.

However, it wasn’t enough to get Barty back on track, as the size of the occasion now seemed to be weighing heavily on her.

The forehand was getting wild and erratic and Collins found another break of serve to seemingly put the set out of her opponent’s reach.

But Barty, the fighter that she is on the court, fought back and recovered one of those breaks of serve, before firing a love serve game to put the pressure back on Collins.

It was pressure Collins couldn’t handle as her first serve and usually reliable backhand deserted her, gifting Barty with a second break of serve.

The Rod Laver arena, which had been dark for most of the second set, erupted and was now louder than it had been all night.

Barty claims the third Grand Slam title of his career.

At one point, Collins seemed unhappy with several people in the crowd who had started yelling before the points were over, prompting the referee to warn attendees about his conduct.

Barty held serve to level the score at 5-5 and what looked like 20 minutes ago was going to be a passing set for Collins had now turned into a fight.

Both players turned in solid service games to take the set to a tie break, although Collins must have been wishing those first serves had come a couple of games earlier.

Barty took a 4-0 lead in the tiebreaker and never seemed to lose it from there, eventually closing it out 7-2, and now it was party time for Rod Laver.

After 44 long years of waiting, Australia once again has its own Grand Slam singles champion.


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