Sports, Tennis

Barty clinch Australian Open title


By AFP
Published : 29 Jan 2022 09:06 PM

An imperious Ashleigh Barty became the first Australian to win her home Grand Slam in 44 years Saturday, halting the charge of fearless American Danielle Collins in straight sets.

The world number one was 5-1 down in the second set but came storming back to win on a tiebreak and sweep past the 27th seed 6-3, 7-6 (7/2) to be crowned Australian Open champion in front of an expectant Rod Laver Arena crowd.

It was a third Slam title for the 25-year-old after her breakthrough French Open success in 2019 and Wimbledon last year, joining Serena Williams as the only active players to win majors on all three surfaces.

She achieved the feat with Christine O'Neill, the last Australian man or woman to win in Melbourne, watching in the stadium.

O'Neill won the title in 1978 and told reporters before the match: "I'm probably her (Barty's) biggest fan. I'd be happy to hand it over to her because she's so deserving of it.

"She is an absolute thinker, she's a craftsperson, a bit like a chess player with how she constructs the points."

There were fears she might be overwhelmed by the weight of expectation, but the Australian has dealt with intense pressure before, none more so than at Wimbledon last year.

Winning at the All England Club was the one trophy she wanted more than any others, and she handled the occasion with aplomb.

She applied the same tactical acumen with the resurgent Collins, who has enjoyed a new lease of life after surgery last year for endometriosis left her pain free, storming to her first two WTA titles.