World No. 1 Ash Barty defeated American Danielle Collins 6-3, 7-6 (2) in the final of the Australian Open to become first Australian to win a singles title in their home Grand Slam tournament in 44 years.
“This is a dream come true for me and I’m so proud to be an Aussie,” said Barty in her acceptance speech.
The last Australian singles winner at the event was Chris O’Neil, who won a 32-player event in 1978 on grass at Kooyong Tennis Club.
Barty was greeted by a roaring local crowd – many wearing “Barty Party” shirts – and a scattering of Australian and Aboriginal flags as she took to the court at the Rod Laver Arena.
The first set got off to a routine start, as each player traded service games and the score was brought to an even 2-2. After narrowly avoiding a break from her American opponent, Barty secured her own break with a forehand winner and then a double fault from a tense Collins, securing a 5-2 lead. Barty closed out set one with a perfect service game after just 32 minutes, an ace in the last point a final flourish of confidence.
In the second set, Collins rolled to a 5-1 lead, but Barty slowly clawed her way back in the set and forced a tiebreaker, which she won 7-2. The Australian champion boasted a 94 percent first serve win percentage, including five aces, throughout set one, giving little opening to her American opponent.
Barty did not lose en route to the title and dropped just 30 games during the fortnight.
Playing in her first major singles final, the No. 27-seeded Collins will move into the top 10 in the WTA rankings with the hallmark result.
To read more about the Australian Open, buy or download “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins https://www.amazon.com/dp/1937559386/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_86TG1ZFD76G9MZMXDWV9 via @amazon