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Collins streets Swiatek to make first Slam final

  • Alex Sharp

Danielle Collins put in a devastatingly dominant display to defeat Iga Swiatek 6-4 6-1 to soar into the Australian Open 2022 women's singles final. 

MORE: All the scores from Day 11 at AO 2022

The American has had to recover from a set deficit twice this fortnight, but was in the ascendancy from the outset on Thursday night, clattering 27 winners to topple the world No.9 in 78 heavy-metal minutes.  

Collins, who will break into the top 10 next week, heads into her first Grand Slam final to tackle versatile virtuoso Ash Barty.  

MORE: AO 2022 women's singles draw
"Feels amazing. It's been such a journey and it doesn't happen overnight. It's so many years of hard work and hours in an early age on court," reflected Collins, 32-7 on tour since last July after having undergone emergency surgery to treat endometriosis last spring. 
"All the early mornings my dad would practice with me before school, and it's just incredible to be on the stage. Especially with the health challenges, I'm just so grateful. I couldn't be happier." 

Collins' game plan was transparent, but devastatingly effective

Collins' trademark arrowing backhand was on song right from the get go, the American scorching a return winner over the net post to spearhead an immediate 3-0 scoreboard advantage.  
The world No.30 was reading everything seventh seed Swiatek offered up, attacking her second serve and backing up her bludgeoning groundstrokes with surprise forays to net.  
Swiatek, the 2020 Roland Garros champion, began to heighten her net clearance and a booming forehand kept the Pole in touch 4-2 down.  
A brace of double faults enabled Swiatek to break for 5-3, but nothing could derail the destructive force off the ground from the 27th seed.  

The world No.9's serve was looping right into the sweet spot for Collins. The American directed another series of slingshot backhand return winners to accelerate 3-0 ahead in the second set.  
A forehand pass crosscourt on the run signalled Collins' crushing level wasn't going to drop.  
Swiatek kept battling and saved a match point at 5-1, chasing down a drop shot to connect with a smart backhand. But moments later, Collins stood arms aloft, too explosive, too relentless. 
The 2019 semifinalist at Melbourne Park finished with 82 per cent of returns in, prevailing in 86 per cent of points on the Swiatek second serve. The front foot, first-strike game plan was delivered in style.  

"I have certainly added a little bit more variety to my game over the last couple years, but this is my plan A and I wanted to go out and try to execute this game plan as best as I could," she said, inspired as a youngster watching Serena and Venus Williams in Grand Slam finals on TV.

"In the zone is the best way to describe it. So it was a bit of a shock I guess at the end when I finally closed it out."

Saturday's final showdown is poised to be an absolute cracker, one where world No.1 Barty's all-court craft will have to nullify the overwhelming force beaming off Collins' racquet. 
The Australian required a third set tiebreak to edge the American in Adelaide at the start of 2020. At the same event last season, Collins gained revenge 6-3 6-4, demonstrating the explosive level needed to defeat the top seed.  
"We've had some incredible battles over the years and to play against the number one player in the world and in her home country, I think it's going to be really spectacular," continued Collins. 
"I love the energy the fans bring whether they're for me or for my opponent. I think we're just so grateful after everything with Covid to be able to have incredible energy and people here supporting us. So, I'm just excited to have everybody back. 

"Looking forward to hopefully having a great match and battling away with Ash."