Hello and welcome to coverage of the Australian Open women’s final between Ashleigh Barty and Danielle Collins.
All eyes will be on Barty and whether she can end a 44-year wait for a home winner and claim a third grand slam title, cementing her position as the best player in the world. But she faces a tricky opponent in Collins, whose story to this point is a remarkable one.
Last April, Collins underwent surgery endometriosis and affected most of her season. But she has bounced back impressive and she’s now one win away from a maiden grand slam title. And Barty says she is well aware of the threat posed by the American.
“She’s an exceptional ball striker,” Barty said of her 28-year-old opponent. “She’s someone who stands on the baseline and can hit all spots of the court from any position. I think the challenge is going to be trying to get her off-balance. “I think the way she’s able to control the baseline and really take the game on she’s one of the most fierce competitors out here. She loves to get in your face and loves to really take it on.”
Australia has been waiting for a women’s singles finalist since Wendy Turnbull back in 1980, with Chris O’Neal the last home champion in the women’s or men’s singles two years earlier.
Barty, who won the French Open in 2019 and Wimbledon last summer, said: “Absolutely embrace it. You have to. It’s fun. It’s brilliant to be playing in the business end of your home slam. I’m not going to lie about that. It’s amazing. I think being able to experience it multiple times has been incredible, but Saturday’s going to be a new experience for me. So I go out there and embrace it, smile, try and do the best that I can and whatever happens, happens.
“It’s been an incredible January, an incredible summer for us. I’m really looking forward to having one last crack here to really go out there and enjoy it.”