Danielle Collins QF interview

Interviews

Q. Where does the third set, particularly the first five games, rank among the best tennis you've played?
DANIELLE COLLINS: I think it's up there. I definitely faced my challenges today. But, yeah, I think I really got it together in the third set and went out with confidence, you know, kind of cleaned some areas of my game up. Yeah, I think it's up there.

Q. Does this all feel new to you or do you feel the opposite of new, whatever that is, ready? How are you taking it?
DANIELLE COLLINS: Yeah, this has all been a really incredible experience. Obviously it's my first time playing main draw here in Australia, so I think that's a little bit new to me. This time last year I was playing a challenger in Newport Beach.

But, yeah, I think I'm really embracing it. It makes it a lot easier when you play in front of great fans and really good energy, so...

Q. You had lost in your previous attempts at a Grand Slam. You were three points from defeated in this first round. Why do you think it's happening for you now?
DANIELLE COLLINS: I think I'm playing really good tennis. I think I've put in a lot of hard work. Sometimes at this level you're playing against...

When I lost at the French Open, I played Wozniacki. When I lost at Wimbledon, I played Mertens. When I lost at the US Open, I played Sabalenka. I lost to some really good players. I did everything I could those days.

I think I've gained more experience in the last year, which is great. Yeah, I don't think much has really changed. I think I'm just getting a little bit different outcome. That's based off of the hard work that's been put in in the past, just having faith in what I'm doing.

Q. What did you say to yourself after the first set?
DANIELLE COLLINS: Honestly, I lost that set pretty quickly. But what was going through my mind was that I think I had at least two breakpoints that I didn't convert, then there was another game, I think the first game on serve, I don't know if I had a game point that game, but I had an opportunity I think where I could have maybe put myself in a different situation.

Even though the set was 6-2, it took an hour. I felt like it was very close, regardless of the score. I told myself, Hey, if I can just give a little bit more, 10 per cent or 15 per cent, I have an opportunity. Yeah, I stayed positive through that and kind of weathered the storm.

Q. Obviously there's a lot of buzz about what you've been doing here. How aware are you of that, especially what's going back to the States? What kind of text messages and conversations have you been having with friends and family back home?
DANIELLE COLLINS: Yeah, the support has been incredible. There's been so many nice things, nice things that people have said. I don't really keep up with the social media part of it too much, but I keep in touch with my family and my close friends.

Yeah, I just kind of embrace all of this attention that I've been getting. It's been really nice that people have recognized my success. Yeah, it's very flattering. Yeah, hopefully I continue to get some good energy like this.

Q. In a press conference your opponent said she felt you were hitting free. Did you have that sense?
DANIELLE COLLINS: I think her and I actually play a little bit similar to each other. We both look to take the ball early. She came out in the first set and, quite frankly, the last couple matches, I was in positions where I was really controlling from the get-go. Today she didn't really give me an opportunity in that first set to allow me to really take control. I think she was playing really well. I kind of had to make some adjustments within my game.

The second set, I don't think I was playing totally freely. I was trying to extend the points, make it more physical. There were some tight situations. So that made it even more challenging. She was playing really great tennis. That had every ounce to do with that.

Then in the third set, I knew that she was nervous. I knew that she was physically deteriorating. I decided that I wanted to play some long points, extend some rallies. I went after my shots at the right time.

But, yeah, I think with how well she was playing today, it put me in a situation where I maybe wasn't playing as freely, and I had to do some other things.

Q. What were the other things?
DANIELLE COLLINS: Yeah, I think making some technical adjustments with my feet, with my court positioning. I think being a little bit quicker, recognizing the patterns that she was coming up with. She was coming up with some really incredible plays, doing some maybe things differently that my other opponents hadn't been doing.

I was staying tough in the moment and playing some longer points that I hadn't played in the last couple matches.

Q. Do you get very nervous any more?
DANIELLE COLLINS: Yeah, I think nerves are a natural part of it. I think I embrace it well. I go out fiery and feisty, no matter what. Yeah, I think nerves are a part of it for everybody.

Q. When you get nerves, what do you do?
DANIELLE COLLINS: I just try to move my feet a little bit quicker, try to show positive energy by kind of jumping around, moving, running through the changeovers, stuff like that.

Q. You have either Petra on one side or Ash, a local player, on the other side. Tell us about what you'd be expecting against either of those players.
DANIELLE COLLINS: I've never played Ashleigh, but she's obviously playing great tennis. I think that would be a great match. I've played Kvitova once a couple weeks ago in Sydney, and she's tricky because she's a lefty.

But, yeah, I think no matter who I play, it's going to be an incredible battle and another great opportunity for me.

Q. Have you followed much of Petra's career?
DANIELLE COLLINS: Yeah, I followed a lot of her career. She's an incredible champion, has gone through a lot. We had a really great battle a couple weeks ago, one of the best matches I've played. I didn't even win that match. So very familiar with her. Very familiar with Barty. Yeah, looking forward to the next match.

Q. I hope you understand that we are used to meet players when they're kids.
DANIELLE COLLINS: Yeah.

Q. You are different from our point of view. Do you think that helped you, because you're more mature, went through different experiences, university? You also talk like a more mature person, if I can say that.
DANIELLE COLLINS: Thank you (smiling).

Q. Which doesn't mean that you're old. Did that help you in a way? You know better how to face different situations even if they are new for you, too?
DANIELLE COLLINS: Yeah, I think not being a child prodigy, not being a superstar at a young age certainly humbled me, made me in a way work harder for things. I think I was talented and athletic, but maybe not to the level that other players were at, like, 14, 15, 16. It made me kind of have to in some ways I don't want to say work harder, but I was kind of like playing from behind because I wasn't a child prodigy, I went a different route. I wasn't really sure if I could make it playing professional tennis when I was that age. Going to college was really crucial for me and my development.

Yeah, I think it's kind of made me hungrier in some ways, like not having that, Oh, I've always been really amazing at tennis. It wasn't always like that. I wasn't always great or good or whatever, so...

I hope that answers your question.

Q. Who do you have with you? Who are you traveling with?
DANIELLE COLLINS: I'm here with Mat Cloer, my coach. He's with the USTA. I'm with my full-time hitting partner-coach Stijn de Gier, and Yutaka from IMG. He's a strength, conditioning and performing coach. That's it.

Q. And Kathy in your box?
DANIELLE COLLINS: Kathy is always there for us, being the Fed Cup captain, head of women's tennis. Yeah, she's been at every match, which has been incredible.

My cousin is here, very close with her. She's one of my closest family members. She flew all the way from Minnesota today. She said, I don't know if I'll make it in time for your match.

I said, I think you can make it.

She put everything together, got on a plane and got here.

Q. Why did you keep changing racquets?
DANIELLE COLLINS: Yeah, I obviously was a little bit out of my zone today. I felt like at certain times in the match I was missing balls by a little bit, then sometimes the balls were really coming off the strings, especially when we were switching balls.

I had all new racquets strung, and I'm trying to do a better job of using fresher racquets because I used to always kind of like, I don't want to just cut strings out unless it's completely worn down. I kind of felt sometimes they were a little bit loose today. I wanted to make the adjustment and not wait a couple games when I really got behind.

Yeah, I think it made a difference because there were some points where I would miss just some random balls. I'm like, Why am I missing? I'd switch to the tighter racquet and it helped me by a couple inches. I think it was smart.