By Peter McLaren-Kennedy • 29 January 2022 • 12:41
Ashleigh Barty has made history by becoming the first player to win the Australian Open on home soil in the 44 years, the world number one defeated American Danielle Collins in the final.
Barty is the only active player other than Serena Williams to have won major titles on three different surfaces.
Down 5-1 in the second set, she recovered to clinch a 6-3 7-6 (2) victory and claim her third Grand Slam title.
The last home-grown player to lift the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup was Chris O’Neil in 1978.
She received the award from her mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who won the title four times in the 1970s, saying: “As an Aussie, the most important part of the tournament is being able to share it with so many people.
“This crowd is one of the most fun I’ve ever played in front of.
“You brought so much joy, you relaxed me and forced me to play my best tennis.
“This is just a dream come true for me and I am so proud to be an Aussie.”
Organisers were allowed to increase ticket sales to 80% of capacity at Rod Laver Arena and the crowd could be heard cheering Barty on throughout the game.
Collins paid tribute to Barty in her runner-up speech, saying: “I owe a big congratulations to Ash on a phenomenal two weeks and a phenomenal couple of years.
“I really admire you as the player you are and the variety in your game. Hopefully I can implement some of that in mine.”
To complete a grand slam Barty now just needs to win the US Open having won the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon last summer.
Barty received a warm welcome from the crowd. She started in a confident mood against first-time finalist Collins, a two-time NCAA singles champion at Virginia.
Having saved a break point in the fifth game, Barty landed the first blow after the American wilted under intense pressure, landing a double fault to hand the Australian a 4-2 lead.
The top seed consolidated the break before serving it out with a hold to love, moving halfway to a place in the history books.
Collins only turned pro in 2016 but she came into the match having won their most recent head-to-head match at the Adelaide International last year.
Collins twice rallied from a set down, the 28-year-old made a positive start to the second set by breaking Barty’s momentum for a 2-0 lead.
The 27th seed saved two break-back points on her way to holding in the next game before Barty got on the board in the fourth game.
However, her game appeared to be disintegrating fast with Collins’ roar reverberating around Rod Laver when she moved into a comfortable 5-1 lead.
In a remarkable turnaround, Barty rallied to win the next four games in a row to level things up at 5-5 as her movement returned in a big way. Collins stopped the rot with a vital hold of serve in the 11th game, but Barty responded to send a dramatic second set into a tiebreak.
Roared on by the partisan crowd, she was not going to let go the opportunity go racing into a 6-2 lead before clinching her third Grand Slam title with a stunning forehand winner.
Barty made history with her remarkable run by winning the title without dropping a set, losing just 30 games in seven matches.
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Originally from South Africa, Peter is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for the Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news.
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