Collins streaks into AO semis

  • Alex Sharp

Debutant Danielle Collins launched into a maiden Grand Slam semifinal courtesy of a 2-6 7-5 6-1 comeback triumph over world No.44 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Tuesday afternoon.

The 25-year-old, without a major main draw victory before this trip to Melbourne, built on her standout demolition of 2016 champion Angelique Kerber in the fourth round to fight through.

“This has all been a really incredible experience. This time last year I was playing a challenger in Newport Beach,” revealed the unseeded American. “I think I'm really embracing it.”

Her victory in two hours and 16 minutes books a final four showdown with two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova, who edged Collins at Brisbane International 6-7(6) 7-6(6) 6-3 earlier this month.

“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,” said the world No.35, who is adamant she deserves her chance in the limelight.

MORE: AO2019 women’s singles results

“I think I've gained more experience in the last year, which is great. 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.”

Pavlyuchenkova, who has previously reached the quarterfinal in all four majors, set the tone with a hammered forehand down the line to clinch an instant break.

The duo were fearlessly striking, with explosive power off groundstrokes cancelling out each other. Collins had five break points in a lung-bursting second game, but Pavlyuchenkova escaped from a 17-minute hold to seize the first set initiative.

A rasping backhand return winner chalked up the double break, before Collins finally notched up a game on the scoreboard after 32 minutes.

World No.44 Pavlyuchenkova whipped some vicious slice serves beyond the reach of Collins to serve out a commanding opener.

Collins, also the conqueror of Auckland winner Julia Goerges, world No.19 Caroline Garcia at Australian Open 2019, immediately raised her level and swiftly built a 4-1 advantage.

However, Pavlyuchenkova pounced on some short balls to rocket a brace of backhands into the corners to help restore parity at 5-5.

After a routine hold, Collins retrieved two smashes in a remarkable rally and swatted away a backhand approach to wrestle back the momentum to force a shootout set for the semifinal ticket.

Unforced errors
20 Danielle Collins
36 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova

“I think it's up there,” stated Collins, believing she produced some of her best ever tennis on Rod Laver Arena. “I definitely faced my challenges today. But I think I really got it together in the third set and went out with confidence, kind of cleaned some areas of my game up. Yeah, I think it's up there.”

The persistence had paid off, as the American attacked with purpose, hitting her shots early with consummate ease. A hold to love with an ace secured a commanding seven-straight games in favour of Collins, before the world No.35 soared into the final four.

Last January, the 25-year-old fell 6-0 6-1 to Denisa Allertova in the final round of qualifying. Twelve months on and Collins is just two wins away from lifting the title.