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Collins stands between Barty and the end of Australia's title drought

Ash Barty will carry the weight of a nation on her shoulders when she faces big-hitting American Danielle Collins in Saturday’s Australian Open final, as she seeks to end her country’s 44-year wait for a home champion.

The world number one has lost just 21 games to reach her maiden final at Melbourne Park and is primed to become the first local since Chris O’Neil in 1978 to win the Australian Open.

Barty, who won the 2019 French Open and is the reigning Wimbledon champion, is also unbeaten in 10 matches this season and warmed up for the first Grand Slam of the year with a WTA 500 title in a tune-up tournament in Adelaide.

Standing in the Australian’s way is Collins, a first-time Grand Slam finalist. The American is a big underdog but Barty is not underestimating her.

“She’s an exceptional ball striker,” Barty said of her 28-year-old opponent, whom she has beaten in three of their four previous matchups, though Collins won the most recent in Adelaide last year.

“She’s someone who stands on the baseline and can hit all spots of the court from any position. I think the challenge is going to be trying to get her off-balance. I think the way she’s able to control the baseline and really take the game on … she’s one of the most fierce competitors out here. She loves to get in your face and loves to really take it on.”

Collins, ranked 30th in the world, will break into the top 10 when the rankings are updated on Monday. She hopes she can finally realise her full potential after undergoing surgery last April to have a cyst the size of a tennis ball removed.

Twice an NCAA champion, Collins has continued the strong run for American women at Melbourne Park, becoming the third straight US finalist after Jennifer Brady last year and Sofia Kenin in 2020. Collins is aware she will have to contend with raucous support for Barty from the Rod Laver Arena stands but the American said she enjoys playing in front of people — even if the crowd is against her.

“Something I really admire about Ash’s game is her variety, playing a different game style than pretty much all of the players on tour,” said the American.



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Who is Danielle Collins? Meet the American tennis star who will face Ash Barty in the 2022 Australian Open final

Who is Danielle Collins? Meet the American tennis star who will face Ash Barty in the 2022 Australian Open final

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