Ashleigh Barty beats Danielle Collins in straight sets and becomes the first Australian to win a Grand Slam at home in 44 years.
A prosperous Ashleigh Barty on Saturday became the first Australian to win her home Grand Slam in 44 years, stopping the charge of the fearless American Danielle Collins in straight sets.
The world number one was 5-1 behind in the second set, but rushed back to win on a draw break and swept past the 27th seeded 6-3, 7-6 (7/2) to become Australian Open champions to be crowned in front of an expectant Rod Laver Arena crowd.
It was a third Slam title for the 25-year-old after her breakthrough French Open success in 2019 and Wimbledon last year, joining Serena Williams as the only active player to win majors on all three surfaces.
She achieved the feat with Christine O’Neill, the last Australian to win in Melbourne, looking into the stadium.
O’Neill won the title in 1978 and told reporters before the match: “I’m probably her (Barty’s) biggest fan. I would love to hand it over to her because she deserves it that way.
“She’s an absolute thinker, she’s a craftsman, a bit like a chess player with how she puts the points together.”
There were fears she might be overwhelmed by the weight of expectation, but the Australian has dealt with intense pressure before, nothing more than last year at Wimbledon.
Winning at the All England Club was the one trophy she wanted more than any other, and she handled the event with aplomb.
She applied the same tactical insight with the revived Collins, who enjoyed a new life after surgery for endometriosis last year left her pain-free and stormed for her first two WTA titles.
Barty countered the 28-year-old’s power hold and big hits with her dizzying range of discs, precise service, speed and a seamless forehand, but she was shocked.
Both players comfortably held their early service matches, which offered few chances as they got a feel for each other.
But Collins used her powerful foundations and they caused trouble.
She worked the first two with Barty serving at 2-2 and an idiosyncratic forehand gave her the opening break point of the night.
The Australian, however, held on tight and served with a bait.
She then stepped up a gear and put pressure on the Collins ministry to earn her first break point with a netball, and the American failed under pressure to fall 4-2 behind.
With the crowd roaring her on, Barty rushed home 6-3 within 32 minutes.
But Collins was not finished and rushed back and broke Barty to 2-0 in the second set – a fate the Australian suffered just once before this tournament.
Collins fended off two break points to serve and while Barty made a statement by winning her next service game to love, the American was inflated and broke again for 5-1 when the front-runner sent off two double faults.
Barty was deep in trouble, but found an incredible way back, breaking for 2-5 with some brand new winners and then breaking again for 4-5 when Collins plodded with service for the set.
She forced a draw and was always in charge of her fourth win in five meetings with Collins and making history for Australia.