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Collins thunders home to book a spot in the semis

  • Dan Imhoff

Danielle Collins has been to hell and back since her breakout Australian Open semifinal three years ago.

But after booking her return to the last four over Frenchwoman Alize Cornet on Thursday, the road back had been worth every bit of the struggle.

MORE: Women's singles results AO 2022

The American prevailed 7-5 6-0 and in the process ensured her top 20 debut next week.

The 28-year-old's turnaround has been nothing short of remarkable.

She required emergency surgery for endometriosis last April and suffered an abdominal injury at Roland-Garros.

MORE: Women's singles draw AO 2022

They were setbacks Collins hailed at having galvanised her belief as her run at Melbourne Park rolled on.

"It feels incredible. I think especially after some of the health challenges that I've had to be able to get back to this level and be able to compete the way that I have been, being able to be as physical as i have been has been so rewarding," Collins said.

"Especially playing against the girls I've been playing against the last couple of matches, playing against really good competitors, really great athletes to be able to compete with these women is an honour."

There was no secret in Collins' game plan to dictate at any cost from on top of the baseline.

She was hitting with almost 20km/h more venom off her groundstrokes early on and it reaped the early rewards when after a 10-minute game she landed the crucial break for 3-1.

Both women had endured torrid fourth-round affairs just to reach this point and on another sweltering day on Rod Laver Arena, conserving energy would be crucial.

In her 63rd main draw appearance, Cornet had broken her fourth-round Grand Slam hoodoo with a lung-busting three-set triumph over Simona Halep.

It was her second upset of a dual major champion and former No.1 this tournament, following her second-round dismissal of Garbine Muguruza.

After a series of health woes, Collins is fit and firing again

Collins had come from a set down in consecutive matches at a major for the first time – against Clara Tauson and fellow former semifinalist Elise Mertens – to reach this stage.

In the face of adversity, the American had an uncanny ability to summon her fighting best when she was on the ropes.

After conceding serve for the first time when she attempted to close out the opening set, she regrouped and set about dragging Cornet deep into the corners again.

The set was finally hers at the second time of asking on serve, in just shy of an hour.

Exhausted from her groundbreaking feats and feeling the heat, it did not bode well for the Frenchwoman, who had to be at her relentless retrieving best for two more sets if she was to extend her stay.

It was a bridge too far as Collins roared through the second set in 30 minutes to set a showdown with seventh seed Iga Swiatek or Estonian surprise, Kaia Kanepi.

Not Cornet's day, but it was still a magnificent AO 22

"It means the world to me. I think as athletes and especially for myself, I've been playing tennis since I was seven years old," Collins said.

"I worked at this every day. I gave up so much as a kid to get to where I am now. The amount of hours I spent each day on the court playing at the park with my dad, and him driving me around everywhere to try to get me the best resources to get to where I am today and with the health challenges, to be able to overcome all that means a lot to me and to my family as well."