Ashleigh Barty spoiled a potential all-American final with her semifinal win over Madison Keys. It feels as if the world’s No. 1 player has eliminated just about every American-born player in the field.
Barty will have to deal with one more when she faces No. 27 seed Danielle Collins in Saturday’s final. Barty has yet to drop a set as she seeks her third Grand Slam singles title. If she wins on Saturday, each of her Grand Slam championships will have come on different surfaces.
The tennis betting odds are predicting another straight-set win for Barty as the line on games won for Barty is 12½ compared to nine for Collins, who will be playing in her first Grand Slam final.
Women’s Semifinals at Australian Open
Danielle Collins vs Ashleigh Barty ESPN
Saturday, 3:30 a.m. ET
Collins Rolling Since Returning to Tour
Normally a women’s player in her late 20s is pondering life after tennis rather than preparing for her first Grand Slam singles final.
However, the 28-year-old Collins is happy to do things a little bit differently.
About a week after falling in the first round of qualifying in the 2014 Connecticut Open, Collins displayed some of her potential when she won a first-set tiebreaker against world No. 2 Simona Halep in the first round of the U.S. Open. After a few years playing on the Challenger circuit, attempting to qualify for Grand Slams and other WTA tour events and having more success in doubles than in singles, Collins slowly began to work her way up the rankings.
Collins was barely into the top 100 early in 2018 before topping two top-20 players, including Venus Williams, to reach the semifinals at the Miami Open. She would finish that year inside the top 40 and is now set to break into the top 10.
First, she has some more work to do.
Thanks to a 6-4, 6-1 win over No. 7 seed Iga Swiatek in the semifinals, Collins advanced to play Barty in her first Grand Slam singles final.
Collins came into the tournament at +6000, which was just third among the American-born players in the field. Those who bet online and went with Collins are feeling pretty good these days. She has won her last 11 completed matches and her lone loss since the 2020 Indian Wells event came due to retirement to Alison Riske at the semifinals in Linz.
“Feels amazing,” Collins told the media after her semifinal victory when she had 27 winners. “It’s been such a journey and it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s so many years of hard work and hours at an early age on court.
“All the early mornings my dad would practice with me before school, and it’s just incredible to be on the stage. Especially with the health challenges, I’m just so grateful. I couldn’t be happier.”
Collins underwent surgery to treat endometriosis last year and returned to tour with a vengeance, winning her first two WTA tour events. Now she is looking to improve to 33-7 since her return to the tour. Win No. 33, if it happens, will be one for the ages.
Barty Looks to Seal Deal in Australia
The last few years haven’t finished quite the way Barty would have preferred when playing in the Grand Slam in her home country.
After back-to-back, third-round exists in 2017 and 2018 to players ranked 181st and 72nd (although the latter was future Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka), she finally advanced to the second week of the event in 2019 with a thrilling three-set win over Maria Sharapova. Her run ended with a decisive loss to Petra Kvitova in the quarterfinals. She reached the semifinals in 2020 and quarterfinals in 2021 as the No. 1 seed, only to fall to players ranked outside of the top 10.
Still, Barty seemed destined to become the first native Aussie to win the Australian Open women’s singles title since Chris O’Neil followed in the footsteps of Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong and Kerry Melville Reid as home-grown players to win 10 out of 11 women’s singles crowns in the late 1960s and into the 1970s.
After a rather methodical win over unranked American Madison Keys, Barty is in her first Australian Open final, where she will play another American in Collins.
Barty came into the tournament listed by the Las Vegas odds as the favorite at +250 and she has certainly looked the part. She lost a total of eight games in her first three matches.
American Amanda Anisimova made Barty work for the 6-4, 6-3 win in the Round of 16. Fellow Americans Jessica Pegula, the No. 21 seed, and then Keys combined to win six games. Now Barty meets an American-born player for the fourth match in a row as she attempts to win her third Grand Slam singles title.
Barty’s first title came in the 2019 French Open when, ironically, she had to dispatch Pegula and Collins. Barty also won at Wimbledon last year. She had to win two three-set matches in each of those previous Grand Slam championship runs.
Barty has dropped only 21 games in the tournament and she has been dominant with her serving game.
🇦🇺Ashleigh Barty has reached finals at @AustralianOpen losing only 21 games
— TennisMyLife (@TennisMyLife68) January 27, 2022
Collins is a great story and she has the power to give Barty trouble. She needs to return serve better than Keys and likely will do that, but those who bet on tennis will have a hard time going against the favored Barty.