Australian Open: Barty's variety to be tested by Collins' aggression in intriguing final

By Sports Desk January 28, 2022

Ash Barty's form at the Australian Open gives her deserved favourite status for the final, but in Danielle Collins one of the most dangerous players on the WTA Tour stands between her and history.

Barty has ruthlessly cruised into Saturday's final – the first Australian to reach the women's singles decider in 42 years – in brilliant form.

The two-time grand slam champion has lost just 21 games on her way to the showpiece, dropping serve just once.

Barty, the world number one, has appeared a class above at the year's first grand slam, where she is bidding to become the first Australian singles champion since Chris O'Neil in 1978. But she faces a huge test in the final against American 27th seed Collins, who is into her first major decider.

After three straight losses to Barty, two of which were on clay, Collins beat the Australian in straight sets in Adelaide last year in a sign of what she is capable of. Collins, who came from a break down in both sets in that win, possesses the power to threaten Barty on Rod Laver Arena.

 

Barty's variety – her serve, backhand slice and ability to construct points – has been much talked about in Melbourne this year.

Her 35 aces for the tournament are the second most, and exactly half of her first serves have been unreturned at the event, the highest percentage of any player in the women's draw. While Barty will try to unsettle Collins with her variety, the American is likely to respond with power. Collins has crushed 32 return winners at the event, a tally that is eight more than the next best.

Collins has also delivered 164 winners to 149 unforced errors, showcasing her aggressiveness, while Barty is at 106 and 96 respectively.

If Barty can extend the points, she will fancy her chances of a first Australian Open title. Collins has spent 10 hours, 37 minutes on court compared to Barty's 6:06, but shorter points would also suit the 2019 Australian Open semi-finalist.

Of points between zero and eight shots this tournament, Collins has won 458 of 809 (56.6 per cent), while Barty is 331-202 (62.1). But of rallies of nine-plus shots, Collins is 23-31 compared to Barty's 30-19 at the 2022 event.

Barty will be well aware of what Collins is capable of, but should have confidence her best is more than good enough to end Australia's long wait.

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