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MELBOURNE, Australia – Ash Barty ended Australia’s 44-year wait for a home winner at the Australian Open when the world No. 1 staved off a fightback from American Danielle Collins to complete a 6-3, 7-6(2) win on Saturday, January 29, and pick up her third Grand Slam title.
Barty became the first Australian to win the event since Chris O’Neil captured the women’s title in 1978.
O’Neil was present in the stands cheering as the crowd on the flooodlit Rod Laver Arena erupted when Barty converted her first match point with a forehand crosscourt winner.
“This is a dream come true for me, and I am so proud to be an Aussie,” said Barty, who also won the 2019 French Open and 2021 Wimbledon titles.
“As an Aussie, the most important part of this tournament is to be able to share it with so many people and you guys in the crowd have been nothing short of exceptional.
“I have said numerous times, I am so lucky to have so many people here that love and support me… I am an incredibly fortunate and lucky girl to have so much love in my corner.”
The 25-year-old Barty becomes the second active female player to claim major titles on all three surfaces, alongside 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams.
“This crowd is one of the most fun I have played in front of… You relax me, force me to play my best tennis,” Barty said.
Collins was the first to set up a break point in the contest with some forceful ground strokes but a calm and composed Barty found the range with her serve to get out of trouble. She then broke in the next game when her opponent served up a double fault.
Some uncharacteristic forehand errors from Barty allowed Collins, who will make her top 10 debut when the rankings are updated on Monday, to break early in the second set and the American let out a shriek of “Come On” to celebrate opening up a 3-0 lead.
The American broke Barty’s delivery, which looked almost impregnable this past fortnight, a second time in the set. But when Collins appeared to be on the verge of leveling the match as she served at 5-1, the Australian showed nerves of steel and raised her game.
Barty got the set back on serve and then dominated the tiebreak to complete a memorable comeback that left the home nation rejoicing all over Australia. – Rappler.com