Collins Dominates Charleston Open Title Win Over Kasatkina

Danielle Collins (photo: Charleston Tennis LLC)

CHARLESTON, S.C./WASHINGTON, April 8, 2024 (by Michael Dickens)

As Daria Kasatkina and Danielle Collins readied to battle for the only WTA Tour clay-court title in North America, in the final of the 52nd edition of the Credit One Charleston Open Sunday, a couple of storylines everyone was following were: Could 2017 Charleston champ Kasatkina garner her second crown in the South Carolina Lowcountry and continue what she has described as her love affair with green clay? Could Collins, who had won 12 straight matches, keep her winning streak alive and win back-to-back titles after triumphing at the Miami Open a week ago?

The two finalists offered contrasting styles for the enthusiastic crowd that filled Credit One Stadium to admire and enjoy. While the World No. 11 and fourth seed Kasatkina tried to utilize spin and finesse, the unseeded and 22nd-ranked Collins relied on her powerful ground strokes.

Power ruled and Collins dominated the day.

In a matter of 77 minutes, the 30-year-old American from Florida defeated Kasatkina of Russia, 6-2, 6-1. It meant that Collins had won two titles in a row, becoming the first player to win Miami and Charleston back-to-back since Serena Williams in 2013. Also, it was her 13th straight win — the longest winning streak of her career — and equally impressive, Collins has now captured 26 of the last 27 sets she’s played in. The only set she lost in Charleston this week was the middle set against Ons Jabeur, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3, in the second round on Thursday. She also proved resilient in winning two matches in one day, made necessary by the postponement of her match against Jabeur due to heavy rain on Wednesday.

En route to her first Charleston title, Collins defeated Paula Badosa, No. 2 seed Jabeur, Sloane Stephens, No. 11 seed Elise Mertens, No. 3 seed Maria Sakkari and Kasatkina.

After announcing her retirement at the end of the season, Collins has enjoyed a career resurgence that has arguably made her the most dominant player in women’s tennis.

Against Kasatkina, 26, Collins jumped out to a 3-0 advantage. A 22-point, pivotal second game that featured eight deuces and four break points was won by Collins. She went on to win the 46-minute first set 6-2.

Going forward, there was no stopping Collins. She opened up a 5-0 lead – having won seven consecutive games – and served out the title victory. On match point, Collins came into the net off a forehand approach and hit a volley winner. Boom!

Collins finished with an impressive 37 winners, made just 16 unforced errors and controlled the net by winning 17 of 19 points. She won 95 percent of her first-serve points, saved both break points she faced from Kasatkina and converted four of 12 break-point opportunities. Collins outpointed her opponent 69-45.

By comparison, Kasatkina hit just 10 winners to 12 unforced errors.

“I wanted to say I was going to miss you [Danielle] on tour, but after this match. … I’m not sure,” Kasatkina said, smiling during the trophy ceremony. It drew a laugh from Collins. “Charleston is one of the places where I feel like home, being far away from home.”

Collins, who was once ranked as high as No. 7, will rise from No. 22 to No. 15 after the new WTA Rankings come out on Monday.

In her champion’s news conference, about an hour after securing her fourth career WTA title, Collins was asked to describe what winning the Charleston prize meant to her. She replied: “To have had the week that I had here after having such a great run in Miami, and I had a lot of matches in Miami, and I had a lot of matches here. 

“I had, at one point in this tournament, two matches in one day, which is not easy to pull off. I don’t know if I’ve done that before as a professional. I feel like the last time I did that was like in 12-and-unders.

“So, to be able to physically battle and push myself to a new limit gives me a lot of confidence, and I mean, I’ve been so happy to be, obviously, playing at the level that I’ve been playing, but to be able to back it up two weeks in a row has just been fantastic.

“So, the support that I’ve had this week from all of the fans here, from my team, it’s been amazing. Yeah. It’s a whirlwind. So, still kind of taking it in as it goes.”

All-American duo Stephens and Krueger win first doubles title as a team

Sloane Stephens and Ashlyn Krueger of the United States won their doubles title as a team by defeating twin sisters Lyudmyla and Nadiia Kichenok of Ukraine, 1-6, 6-3, 10-7, in an hour and 19 minutes of play. It was also the first tour-level doubles title either of them have won.

The American duo hit 18 winners and converted three of eight break points en route to the title victory.

Stephens, 31, and Krueger, 19, have become a formidable pair. Earlier this season, in their first event together, they reached the Brisbane quarterfinals, then made their first WTA 1000 quarterfinal last week in Miami. Together, they’ve compiled an 8-3 win-loss record.

By the numbers

Danielle Collins finished the Charleston Open with 21 service aces, second-most behind Taylor Townsend’s 29. Collins also won 48 of 57 service games, an efficiency rate of 84.2 percent, best in the tournament.

“Quotable …”

“I’m really happy that I can showcase my best tennis in these last couple of events, because I think that’s the way I want to go out, and I want to go out with my best results. I know everyone has a different way of retiring and ending their career, but for me I want to try to go out playing my best tennis.”

Danielle Collins, during her champion’s news conference, on her decision to retire from pro tennis at the end of the season.