Ash Barty become the first Australian in over 40 years to win the Australian Open thanks to a straight sets win over Danielle Collins, 6-3 7-6 (2). She is now a three time slam champion and this hard court title means she has now won on each of the three slam surfaces. Had Barty blew a hefty lead against Shelby Rogers at the US Open, we may well have already been looking at a career grand slam winner.
Barty had blown away her opponents all fortnight but this was not as one sided as many of those matches with just a single break in the first set. It was a tale of two break points in the opening set. Barty saved hers at 2-2 with an impressive forehand winner while Collins gave hers up in the next game with the wildest of second serves long.
For the first time all fortnight, Barty didn’t have it all her own way and found herself down 1-5 in the second set. Even then though, it wasn’t enough to put away the hearty Australian who could easily have resigned herself to a decider, especially at 5-3 *30-0 down. Two big winners brought it back to 30-30 with the World No.1 finally securing the break two points later. Some big serving helped her on the way to a hold for 5-5 and once more to move into the tiebreak. It was all Barty from there who went into the change of end 5-1 up, closing the match out in style with a stunning forehand pass to secure slam No.3. She embraced good friend and former doubles partner Casey Dellacqua after the match, someone who the champion will credit a lot for her success in the game.
“There’s still work to be done, without a doubt, I feel very humble to be in such a select group. To be honest, I don’t really feel like I belong with those champions of our sport. I’m still very much learning and trying to refine my craft every single day and get better and better.” Barty said on being in the small group of all-surface slam winners. The top seed will be the favourite for many of the slams in the near future and it is hard to pinpoint who will be the woman that finally can knock her from the No.1 spot.
None of the current crop have as well rounded a game as Barty does so it will be about whether they can take advantage in her most vulnerable moments. Collins failure to close out a 5-1 second set lead shows how difficult that can be but there has been plenty of positives for the American, who is an extremely tough player to face when healthy. She will be a top 10 player for the very first time when the rankings update.