For Collins, Journey To Reach Australian Open Final Has Been Worth It

Danielle Collins (photo: Australian Open video)

MELBOURNE/WASHINGTON, January 28, 2022 (by Michael Dickens)

Danielle Collins of the United States has reached her first Grand Slam final at the Australian Open. By any measuring stick, it’s been an uphill climb for the 28-year-old American to be able to compete for her first major title. Yet, it’s one that she has dedicated herself to achieve.

Saturday night on Rod Laver Arena, the 27th-seeded Collins from Florida will face World No. 1 and top seed Ashleigh Barty, who is trying to write a bit of history herself in becoming the Australian to win her home Grand Slam since Chris O’Neil accomplished the feat 44 years ago in 1978.

Through the first six rounds, Barty has averaged about an hour per match, while Collins has logged more than 10 hours on court. One thing is certain: There will be a first-time Australian Open singles champion crowned on Saturday, either Collins or Barty. Both are eager and hungry to win. For Barty, a victory would give her a third major title to go with her earlier triumphs at the French Open in 2019 and at Wimbledon last year. For Collins, it would be her first Grand Slam title.

With her convincing 6-4, 6-1 win over 2020 French Open champion and this year’s No. 7 seed Iga Swiatek Thursday night in Melbourne – her seventh Top-10 win of her career – the big-hitting Collins has enjoyed a very successful start to the 2022 season. She’s 6-0, undefeated, with all of her wins coming this fortnight at Melbourne Park.  Four of them came in straight sets.

“She loves to get in your face and loves to really take it on,” Barty said of Collins, after her own 6-1, 6-3 semifinal win over another American, 51st-ranked Madison Keys, earlier Thursday evening.

Collins, a two-time NCAA champion from the University of Virginia is the second straight American collegiate star to reach the Melbourne final following Jennifer Brady last year. While her only previous Grand Slam semifinal came in 2019 at the Australian Open, she is unbeaten in her 11 last completed matches going back to the Billie Jean King Cup last November. Collins followed it by reaching the semifinals at Linz before retiring in her semifinal against Alison Riske. Her last full-match loss was to Ons Jabeur at Indian Wells last October.

Since returning to the WTA Tour nine months ago after her well-documented struggles with endometriosis, Collins has been nothing short of impressive, as her 32-7 singles record speaks for itself.

Now, with her current success at the Australian Open – win or lose against Barty – Collins will make her WTA Top 10 debut next week at No. 10. She’ll become the top-ranked American woman, a position that has been held by current-World No. 13 Sofia Kenin, who was a first-round loser last week to eventual-semifinalist Madison Keys.

Although Barty leads Collins 3-1 in their career head-to-head series, Collins won their most recent tussle a year ago in Adelaide, Australia.“We’ve had some incredible battles over the years,” Collins said Thursday after her win against Swiatek. “To play against the No. 1 player in the world in her home country, I think it’s going to be really spectacular.

“I’m just really grateful to be able to see faces in the crowd again and to see people getting fired up, seeing positive energy, hearing people’s voices. That’s something that I really thrive in, whether I have a full crowd going for me or whether I have the opposite or somewhere in the middle. I really just love the energy. I think that’s what all professional athletes play for.”

Dodig and Mladenovic win Australian Open mixed doubles title

Unseeded Ivan Dodig of Croatia and Kristina Mladenovic won the Australian Open mixed doubles title with a a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Australian wild cards Jason Kubler and Jaimee Fourlis Friday afternoon on Rod Laver Arena.

Dodig and Mladenovic combined to hit 27 winners and converted four of four break-point chances. They outpointed Kubler and Fourlis 60-45.

It was the second Australian Open mixed doubles title for Mladenovic, who won the 2014 title with Daniel Nestor of Canada, and third overall to go with her 2013 Wimbledon crown, also won with Nestor. She’s won 25 overall doubles titles.

Dodig has now won four mixed doubles titles in his career. He twice won the French Open, in 2018 and 2019 with Latisha Chan of Taiwan, and the 2019 Wimbledon title, also with Chan. He’s won 17 overall doubles titles.

Friday’s Australian Open results 

Saturday’s Australian Open order of play

Dylan Alcott: Moved by Andy Murray tribute

Special K boys: Kyrgios & Kokkinakis feeling positive vibes on the court

Ashleigh Barty: If she weren’t such a good tennis player …

During some of her spare time while on the grounds at Melbourne Park this week, Ashleigh Barty and her team have enjoyed keeping it loose by playing some cricket.

What they’re writing

• Throughout the fortnight, Iga Swiatek has been writing a guest diary for the BBC Sports. Here’s her latest and final column written after her semifinal lost to Danielle Collins Thursday night.’s Stephanie Livaudais has penned an insightful story about the dream fortnight of Aussie men’s doubles team Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis that explains that their road to the final has been anything but easy.

By the numbers

• With her semifinal victory over World No. 9 Iga Swiatek on Thursday, Danielle Collins now owns seven Top-10 wins in her career. Two of them have come at majors, both at the Australian Open – Swiatek in 2022 and against Angelique Kerber in 2019.

Ashleigh Barty is 13-7 against Americans in Grand Slam competition. She holds a 3-1 career head-to-head edge against Danielle Collins.

• One for the history books …

“Quotable …”

“I tried to find solutions, but I can assume what feelings she had today on court, because I have that feeling sometimes. It’s hard to stop an opponent when they are playing like that.

“I’m not even feeling any regrets because I did the best I could today.”

Iga Swiatek of Poland, who lost to Danielle Collins in the women’s semifinals Thursday evening.

What they’re sharing on social media

Garbiñe Muguruza / Hanging out in Gstaad: Come Up, Slow Down

Madison Keys / Leaving Melbourne with a smile on my face