Ash Barty tops Collins to end 44-year wait for Australian Open winner at home | Australian Open 2022

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As Ash Barty took his first steps into the Rod Laver Arena for his first Australian Open final, there was no longer any doubt about the integrity of his game, the integrity with which he carries himself and the storied career he is building right before our eyes. But it remained to be seen how he would handle and digest a moment like nothing before.

He did it with the composure of a champion who could win much more. Before a crowd that lived every moment with her, Barty calmly navigated the fire of Danielle Collins, rallying from a 5-1 deficit in the second set to win 6-3, 7-6 (2) and clinch the US Open. Australia for the first time. She is the first Australian to win an Australian Open singles title since Chris O’Neil in 1978. She did not drop a set.

With three Grand Slam titles to her name, Barty joined Serena Williams as the only active players to hold Grand Slam titles on all three surfaces.

Having spent much of the tournament and the last few years proudly speaking of her indigenous heritage, she continues to follow in the footsteps of four-time champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who surprised Barty by appearing on court to present her with the trophy.

“To be able to have this feeling and experience this multiple times, I understand how lucky I am to be able to experience that, because not many people get to do that,” Barty said.

“It’s just been an incredible journey over the last 20 years of hitting a tennis ball, but particularly the last five or six years in this second phase of my career.”

From the moment fans began pouring into Melbourne Park in their thousands, wearing Barty name shirts and his two flags, the magnitude of this occasion was clear. Australian sports royalty and celebrities followed; Rod Laver, Cathy Freeman, Russell Crowe and O’Neil were on hand to watch the history of the sport unfold.

The players were unaffected by the occasion and atmosphere early on, but Barty soon took control serving smoothly, using her forehand to move Collins and taking the solo break at 3-2 as she advanced a set.

Ash Barty roars with joy after sealing victory in Melbourne
Ash Barty roars with delight after sealing victory in Melbourne. Photograph: Dave Hunt/AAP

As expected, Collins was unfazed. He opened the second set by wiping out Barty’s second serve with his backhand, rushing to control the baseline and scoring his victorious points with typical whoops of delight.

She broke serve for 2-0, which soon turned into a 5-1 lead.

As Collins rose, Barty flinched. He missed forehands, missed routine volleys and even his trusty backhand allowed for unforced errors. But she found clarity with a third set in sight and won four games in a row to get back on serve.

“I just wanted to try to switch up and be a little more aggressive, adjust a couple of things tactically just to gain momentum if we went to a third,” she said. “Tennis is a fun game with the scoring system and things can change so fast it seems sometimes.”

The pair held serve until 6-6, but Barty seized the moment, taking control with his forehand, driving Collins from the baseline and finally playing the tiebreak of his life.

When Barty’s forehand got past Collins at the end, she reacted by screaming with delight several times. Barty is reserved on the pitch and her reactions after her biggest successes have previously been more muted. His response underscored the importance of this achievement.

“I didn’t really know what to do or what to feel,” he said. “Just being able to let out a little bit of emotion, which is a little unusual for me, and being able to celebrate with everyone that was there in the crowd, the energy was incredible tonight.”

As Barty took in her achievement, she was surrounded by those who had supported her. She reached out to Casey Dellacqua, her former doubles partner and best friend who was instrumental in her return to the sport after a hiatus, and hugged her as she did her broadcast duties on the court.

As the trophy ceremony began, the announcer, Todd Woodbridge, revealed that Goolagong Cawley, Barty’s idol and friend, would present the trophy. Barty was visibly surprised.

Barty carried the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup everywhere she went on her media duties. Asked if he had felt any added pressure trying to win his title at home, Barty dismissed the suggestion outright.

“I’ve been close before, but now that we’ve been able to pull this off, you guys don’t need to talk about it anymore,” he said. “You were the ones who added fuel to the fire, because for us it was the same processes and the same enjoyment, no matter where in the world we are playing, in which round it is.

“That has no impact on how much I enjoy my tennis and go out there or how much I try and compete.”

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A curious aspect of Barty’s rise is that she has not beaten a top 10 player in any of her three Grand Slam title runs and did not face a top 20 opponent here.

If she were any other player, it would be a bigger topic of discussion, but Barty has won 11 of her last 12 against the top 10. It’s a fitting reflection of the uncertainty beneath her, and how her constant excellence continues to drive her apart. her from the rest.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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