Danielle Collins says she will “walk away proud” after pushing world number one Ashleigh Barty hard in her first Grand Slam final at the Australian Open on Saturday. The 27th seeded American was a huge underdog against the top seed but unexpectedly raced 5-1 clear in the second set and looked destined to take the championship match into a decider. But Barty somehow fought back, reeling off four games in a row to force a tiebreaker and win 6-3, 7-6 (7/2) to deny the 28-year-old. “Not the result that I wanted obviously, but I gave it my best effort. I did everything that I could. I was pushed to the max, and I gave myself a chance there in the end,” she said.
“Unfortunately it didn’t go my way, but I did everything I could, and that’s all you can do at the end of the day.”
Despite losing, the all-action American will break into the top 10 for the first time when the new rankings are released next week.
Her run in Melbourne capped a remarkable career turnaround since emergency surgery last year for endometriosis — where the tissue that lines the womb grows outside of it.
It removed debilitating pain and she has won her first two WTA titles and made a maiden Grand Slam final since going under the knife.
And Collins has achieved much of this without a coach.
“I really am having to coach myself. I think I went in with the right game plan. I did everything I could, but unfortunately there were some things that were just not working for me,” she said.
“That’s really hard technically if you’re not in a good place physically to be able to get yourself to do those things.
“Today my body wasn’t always agreeing with me, and I was in a little bit of a fight with my body, which is to be expected when you go this far in a tournament.
“You know, I think my assessment was generally pretty good. I think there are some areas I need to improve. I can certainly walk away proud without having a coach and kind of doing it on my own.”
Collins was at her hard-hitting best this past fortnight, winning consecutive matches from a set down — against Clara Tauson and Elise Mertens — for the first time at a major.
She was then merciless in straight sets defeats of Alize Cornet and seventh seed Iga Swiatek, with her intense focus on strength and fitness in the off-season paying off.
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