Australian Open: Ashleigh Barty defeats Danielle Collins to win women’s singles title in Melbourne

Raz Mirza

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Ashleigh Barty won her first Grand Slam title on clay at Roland Garros in 2019 and followed it up on grass at Wimbledon last year; Now she has become the first Australian woman since Chris O’Neil in 1978 to have won the singles title here

Last Updated: 29/01/22 10:34am

Ashleigh Barty won the Australian Open singles title against Danielle Collins, ending 44-years of hurt

Ashleigh Barty won the Australian Open singles title against Danielle Collins, ending 44-years of hurt

Ashleigh Barty made history on Saturday by becoming the first Australian woman to win the year’s first Grand Slam in 44 years.

The world No 1 ended decades of hurt with a memorable victory, recovering from 5-1 down in the second set to clinch a 6-3 7-6 (7-2) victory over first-time major finalist Danielle Collins and claim her third Grand Slam title.

Victory for Barty saw her become the first homegrown player to lift the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup since Chris O’Neil in 1978 as well as becoming the only active player other than Serena Williams to have won major titles on three different surfaces.

Barty now just needs the US Open to complete a career Grand Slam having won the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon last summer, and it seems clear that women’s tennis has found its consistent champion.

This was a huge occasion for Australian sport and among the crowd were two people who could put themselves in Barty’s shoes – Sydney Olympic heroes Cathy Freeman and Ian Thorpe – as well as Hollywood star Russell Crowe.

Barty, roared on by a partisan home crowd on Rod Laver Arena, started in confident mood against first-time finalist Collins, a two-time NCAA singles champion at Virginia.

Having saved a break point in the fifth game, Barty landed the first blow after the American wilted under intense pressure, landing a double fault to hand the Australian a 4-2 lead.

The top seed consolidated the break before serving it out with a hold to love, moving halfway to a place in the history books.

Collins only turned pro in 2016 but she came into the match having won their most recent head-to-head match at the Adelaide International last year.

Having rallied from a set down twice already in the tournament, the 28-year-old made a positive start to the second set by breaking Barty’s momentum for a 2-0 lead.

The 27th seed saved two break-back points on her way to holding in the next game before Barty got on the board in the fourth game. However, her game appeared to be disintegrating fast with Collins’ roar reverberating around Rod Laver when she moved into a comfortable 5-1 lead.

But in a remarkable turnaround, Barty rallied to win the next four games in a row to level things up at 5-5 as her movement returned in a big way.

The American stopped the rot with a vital hold of serve in the 11th game, although Barty responded to send a dramatic second set into a tiebreak.

Roared on by an 80 per cent capacity crowd, this was an opportunity she was not going to let go and Barty raced into a 6-2 lead before clinching her third Grand Slam title with a stunning forehand winner.

Barty continued her remarkable run during the past fortnight in Melbourne Park, winning the title without dropping a set, losing 30 games in seven matches.

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