A fearless Ashleigh Barty on Saturday became the first Australian to win her home Grand Slam in 44 years, removing fearless American Daniel Collins’ charge in straight sets.
The world number one lost 5–1 in the second set, but came back to win the tiebreaker and beat the 27th seed 6–3, 7–6 (7/2) to be crowned Australian Open champions. Understood. Expected Rod Laver Arena crowd.
It was the third Slam title after the 25-year-old’s success. French Open success in 2019 and Wimbledon Last year, Serena Williams joined as the only active player to win a Major on all three surfaces.
“It’s a dream come true for me and I’m very proud to be an Australian,” Barty said. “As an Australian, the most important part of this tournament is being able to share it with so many people and you guys in the crowd are not exceptionally embarrassed. You comfort me and ask me to play my best tennis against a champion like Daniel. I knew I had to do it all today.
“And congrats Danielle, it’s been an amazing fortnight and you’re back in the top 10 where you are,” she said.
Barty achieved the feat by watching at the stadium with Christine O’Neill, the last Australian man or woman to win in Melbourne.
O’Neill won the title in 1978 and told reporters before the match: “I’m probably his (Barty’s) biggest fan. I’d be happy to hand it to him because he’s so deserving of it. He’s an absolute thinker, he She is a craftsman, how she scores like a chess player.”
There were fears she might be overwhelmed by the weight of expectations, but the Australian has faced more pressure ahead of last year’s Wimbledon.
Winning at the All England Club was a trophy she wanted more than any other, and she handled the occasion perfectly.
She applied the same tactical prowess with the resurgent Collins, who has gained a new lease of life after surgery for endometriosis last year ended her first two WTA titles pain-free.
An emotional Collins said, “Many congratulations to Ash on a formidable tournament, a few years in fact.”
“The way you play and the variety of shots, hopefully I can apply something to my game.”
Barty countered the 28-year-old’s power-hitting and served big with his dizzying slice, pinpoint serve, pace and a smooth forehand, but he had a bigger scare.
Both players played their opening service games comfortably, giving them a chance to get a feel for each other.
But Collins was using his heavy groundstrokes and he was causing trouble.
He made his first deuce with Barty with a 2-2 serve and a wayward forehand gave him the opening break point of the night.
The Australian, however, persevered and served with an ace.
He then picked up a gear and pressed on Collins’ serve with a net volley to earn his first break point, and the American double fault was under pressure to go back 4-2.
Barty went home 6-3 in 32 minutes as the crowd roared.
But Collins was not and came back to break Barty 2-0 in the second set – a fate the Australian suffered just before the tournament.
Collins missed two break points to keep the serve. And when Barty made a statement by winning his next serve game for Love, the American was thrilled and the top seed broke 5-1 again as two double faults.
Barty was in deep trouble but incredibly found a way back, breaking 2-5 for 2-5 with some crisp winners, as Collins was serving for the set.
He forced a tiebreak and was always in charge of securing a fourth win in five matches with Collins and making history for Australia.