Danielle Collins Return of Serve Will be Key in Final

Danielle Collins Ashleigh Barty 2022 Australian Open Final
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Danielle Collins has to know that she has her work cut out for her if she wants to upset Ashleigh Barty in the Australian Open final. Barty has been on an absolute rampage this event, not dropping a single set so far. In fact, in her six wins at this year’s Australian Open, Barty has lost more than three games in a set just once (Amanda Anisimova pushed the opening set of their fourth-round match to 6-4). In her last two matches, the Australian has lost a total of six combined games.

Collins, of course, is in solid form herself. You have to be to reach a Grand Slam final. But the American has been nowhere near as dominant as Barty. Collins dropped a set in both the third and fourth rounds, against Clara Tauson and Elise Mertens, respectively. She has improved the last two matches, though, looking very strong against elite competition in her quarter- and semifinal matches.

With all that being said, Collins has a real chance in this match. If she is going to win it, though, it will all start with the return of serve.

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Danielle Collins vs Ashleigh Barty

Collins has faced Barty on this side of the planet each of the last two years, at the “tune-up” event in Adelaide. In 2020, the two met in a thrilling semifinal. Barty prevailed, but only in a third set tiebreak. Last year, in the rematch, Collins won in straight sets in the second round.

Both of those matches played out in similar ways–and on a similar surface, we can expect this upcoming match to follow suit. Collins could not deal with Barty during a rally. The Aussie’s defense and slice were impeccable, and Collins couldn’t hit through her. Indeed, once Barty put a rally at neutral, it would almost inevitably end with either a Collins error or a Barty winner after a short Collins ball.

So how were the matches so close? In short, the same way Collins dominated Iga Swiatek in the semifinal here. Collins has good power, but there is little superlative in her game. What sets her apart is her willingness and effectiveness in attacking opponents’ serves. The American swings freely at first serves, and she absolutely tees off on every second serve that comes her way. She did it to Barty twice in Adelaide, and she did it to Swiatek (and other opponents) during this fortnight.

If Collins is to have any chance to defeat Barty in Saturday’s final, she cannot let the Australian get involved in the rallies. Barty is just too good. Instead, Collins needs every single point to be on her racket, and she needs it to happen before Barty can reset the point. That means going huge on serve–and going huge on return when Barty is serving. Play every point on her own terms, and Collins could see herself crowned a Grand Slam champion. Play it any other way, and Barty will live up to her billing as a heavy favorite.

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