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Analysis: How Barty won the final

  • Dan Imhoff

The roar towards Melbourne's night sky and the steely gaze cast towards her team upon sealing a first Australian Open said it all from Ash Barty.

A nation's wait was over and the weight of expectation had lifted.

MATCH REPORT: Barty breaks local drought with title

This one meant the world to the home favourite.

If Roland Garros came more out of the blue, and Wimbledon checked off a childhood dream, winning in her own back yard came with an added rush.

These were the keys to how Barty captured her third major, 6-3 7-6(2).

The serve was on song

Barty's serve had been nigh on indomitable throughout the fortnight, having been broken just once against Amanda Anisimova in the fourth round.

With so much on the line, Saturday night was bound to be a little different and, while she was broken twice in the second set, the top seed was exceptionally accurate when she needed to be.

Barty's serve has been a powerhouse

While not as ruthlessly dominant as she had been through her previous six rounds, Barty dropped just seven of her 38 first-serve points (82 per cent) while Collins claimed 25 of her 40 (63 per cent).

The Australian's first-serve speed was averaging 169km/h – 6km/h more than Collins – but it was the variety and placement which kept the American guessing that proved the difference. The ace count finished 10-1 in favour of Barty.

Backhand less knifed, more variety

Collins said ahead of the pair's fifth showdown she expected Barty to rely heavily on her slice backhand.

The top seed was looking to break up Collins' fast-striking rhythm with greater variety off the single-handed shot, smartly redirecting rallies and sapping the American of the pace with which she loved.

Barty in full backhand flight

But for the opening set-and-a-half, it did not wreak the same havoc it had on Madison Keys, Jessica Pegula and Amanda Anisimova beforehand.

The American had few troubles generating pace off her two-handed backhand wing, particularly as she blew open the second set for a 5-1 lead.

The shot began to hassle Collins more when she was under pressure on the forehand late in the match, and there was a brief period midway through the second set that Barty began to send down more double-handed blows for variety.

Home support played into Barty's hand

There was a threat that in the presence of Olympic legends Cathy Freeman, Ian Thorpe, her idol Evonne Goolagong and a large contingent of family and friends, not to forget a raucous home crowd, Barty would experience an entirely new pressure unlike her previous two major finals on foreign soil.

The expectations of a nation desperate for its first home-grown champion in 44 years were palpable, with standing ovations after every game once the 25-year-old began to reel her opponent back in from a double break down in the second set.

A late-blooming product of college tennis, Collins was never the prodigious talent and had never had things handed to her easily.

One of the fiercest competitors out there, the 28-year-old was never one to shy from the dogfight. If anything, she thrived on contention with her back to the wall.

But it was a balancing act riling an away crowd and she did not display her usual animated spirit until she landed her first break in the second set.

Barty rides the ebbs and flows

With Collins serving to level the match ta 5-1 in the second set, tension in the crowd was rife.

There were fears the thought of winning had crossed Barty's mind after such an impressive display to land the opening set.

Barty now has three Grand Slam victories to her name

The dual major champion had gone completely off the boil as her fired-up opponent found another gear.

A missed swinging volley, a double fault and a dinked backhand had surrendered the double break, but there always the feeling that if Barty could peg back one of the breaks it would stop the rot – even if the pair headed to a decider.

It proved the final turning point. Collins was gesticulating wildly at herself and to the more riotous outliers in the stadium as Barty slowly but surely reeled her in to seal a masterful victory under enormous expectations.