Ash Barty wins Australian Open, ends 44-year drought

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Ash Barty wins Australian Open, ends 44-year drought

Australian Ash Barty claimed her second career Grand Slam singles title with a straight-sets victory over American Danielle Collins at the 2022 Australian Open on Saturday at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne. Photo by Joel Carrett/EPA-EFE

Jan. 29 (UPI) — World No. 1 Ash Barty beat American Danielle Collins in the 2022 Australian Open women’s singles final Saturday in Melbourne, becoming the first Australian to win the tennis tournament since Christine O’Neil in 1978.

“The fans brought me so much joy today,” Barty said in her on-court interview. “They relaxed me and forced me to play my best tennis.

“Against a champion like Danielle, I knew I absolutely had to bring it.”

Barty, the No. 1 seed, beat her 27th-seeded foe 6-3, 7-6(2) in the 87-minute match at Rod Laver Arena. She fired 10 aces, won 3 of 5 break points and totaled 30 winners.

Collins, who appeared in her first Grand Slam singles final, logged one ace, won 2 of 4 break points and totaled 17 winners.

“I owe a congratulations to Ash on a phenomenal two weeks here, really a phenomenal two years,” Collins said of Barty.

“It has been tremendous to watch her climb the rankings to No. 1 and live out her dream.”

Barty and Collins split the first four games of the match. Barty took a 40-15 lead in the fifth game, but Collins rallied to tie it up. Barty responded with a forehand winner and an ace to claim game point.

Barty won the sixth game on a Collins double fault and went up 4-2. She also claimed the seventh game to take a 5-2 lead, but Collins responded with a victory in the eighth game to extend the set.

Barty claimed set point on an ace up the middle.

Collins used a strong forehand return to win the first game of the second set. She then broke Barty and used a powerful cross-court overhead return to win the second game. The American used a backhand return for another winner to jump ahead 3-0.

Barty then roared back, sniping an excellent return just inside the left line to win the fourth game. Collins won the fifth game with a powerful forehand return to her left as Barty went the opposite direction.

Collins broke Barty again in the sixth set to setup set point, but Barty broke the American in the next game. The Australian won three-consecutive game points to tie the set at 5-5, ending the rally with an ace.

Collins won the 11th game, but Barty then forced a tie break after a string of forced errors from her foe. The Australian claimed championship point with a forehand return, which blazed from right to left, crossed in front of Collins and dropped just inside the left corner.

Barty then screamed in celebration as the crowd gave her a standing ovation. She claimed $2.8 million for her first-place finish.

Collins won $1.5 million for her run to the final.

No. 6 Rafael Nadal of Spain will face No. 2 Daniil Medvedev of Russia in the 2022 Australian Open men’s singles final at 3:30 a.m. EST Sunday on ESPN.

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