21/04/2024

Ash Barty is the Australian Open champion. (Photo: ESPN)

Ash Barty has won the 2022 Australian Open title, with a remarkable second-set comeback against American Danielle Collins.

Proud Ngarigo woman Ash Barty has become the first Australian in 44 years to hold the Australian Open trophy aloft, defeating American Danielle Collins on Saturday night.

Collins and Barty pose for a photo before the Final. (Photo: Australian Open)

Quick as a flash for dominant Ash

Barty, who was yet to drop a set for the entire Australian Open, was able to hold her opening service games strongly.

Collins signalled a powerful intent early, trying to hit the Australian off the court with her backhand, which has been a real highlight throughout the tournament.

The American 27th-seed generated a break-point in the fifth game of the set, but the Queenslander hit a delightful forehand winner to dig herself out danger and into a 3-2 lead.

The world No. 1 managed to secure the all-important break in the very next game, with Collins gifting the Aussie a 4-2 lead with her first double-fault of the match.

In a flash, the 25-year-old two-time Grand Slam winner extended the lead to 5-2.

Barty hits a forehand in the first set. (Photo: Australian Open)

Throughout the set, the University of Virginia graduate penetrated a number of Barty’s second serves with her blistering cross-court backhands, but the Aussie was able to return them with her trademark backhand slice.

The Aussie, just as dominant as she has been throughout the fortnight at Melbourne Park, served out the first set with a love-game, as Rod Laver Arena rose as one.

After a short 32 minutes of action, Barty already had one hand on the trophy.

The comeback to end all comebacks

Collins, who lost the 2019 Australian Open semi-final to Petra Kvitova, came out strong in the second set, winning a one-sided opening game. The American looked unhappy and was in conversation with the chair umpire at the change of ends.

Having only conceded a service game once throughout the entire tournament, Barty was broken in the second game of the second set. The American let out a huge roar as Melbourne Park sat in a stunned silence.

Collins reaches for a backhand. (Photo: @Tennis)

Barty, who leads Collins by three wins to one in the head-to-head, managed to produce break-points of her own in the third game, but it was world No. 30 who held her nerve to race to a 3-0 lead.

Collins has spent most of the tournament playing in a quiet and reserved nature, and she couldn’t but help let out screams of emotion as she extended her lead.

Collins worked her way into the match in the second set. (Photo: US Open/Twitter)

Aiming to become the first woman to win the Australian Open without dropping a set since Serena Williams in 2017, Barty stayed in the set by racing to her first successful game but still trailed 3-1.

The Florida product accelerated to a 5-1 lead over a shaken Barty.

But then, a twist. Barty broke back to get the score to 5-2. Then she took it to 5-3.

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And in the blink of an eye, the greatest female tennis player currently on planet Earth had brought the score back on serve.

Ash roared as she came back into contention in the second set. (Photo: US Open/Twitter)

The eerie silence that was present throughout the first set turned to raptures of noise as Barty levelled the score.

A tiebreaker was all that stood between Barty and her first Australian Open crown, as both women held their serve to make it 6-6.

Barty was quick out of the blocks, taking a 4-0 lead, as the entire stadium rose to their feet.

In the most important match of Collins’ career, the American crumbled under the pressure of playing her first Grand Slam final against the home favourite.

Befitting a champion, Barty let out an enormous roar of her own as she romped home in the tiebreak, winning the Australian Open, 6-3 7-6(2). An incredible comeback from the best tennis player Australia has seen in quite some time.

The moment that Ash Barty became champion. (Photo: WTA)

‘I’m so proud to be an Aussie’

Speaking after the match, Barty was full of praise and admiration for her opponent.

“It’s been an amazing fortnight for you, you’re in the top-ten. It’s absolutely where you belong, so congratulations,” she said.

Barty was also thankful for the people closest to her.

“To my team, wow. I’ve said numerous times, I’m so lucky tonight to have so many people here tonight that love me and support me.

“I’m an incredibly fortunate and lucky girl to have so much love in my corner. We did it all together. No one’s changed from my team, it’s been incredible. Thank you for all the time and love you put into me.”

One of the loudest cheers of the night was reserved for Australian tennis legend Evonne Goolagong, who surprised Barty by coming out to present the trophy. 

The emotional moment was almost too much for Barty, who looked on in disbelief as Goolagong walked out of the tunnel.

“This is just a dream come true for me, and I am so proud to be an Aussie.” 

Barty is the first Australian woman to win the Australian Open since Chris O’Neill in 1978.

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