Collins Sets Up Clash With Barty In Adelaide

Danielle Collins (photo: James Elsby/Tennis Australia)

ADELAIDE/WASHINGTON, February 22, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

The Adelaide International, the sixth and final WTA tournament of the Australian Swing, got under way at Memorial Drive Monday. Six of the Top 20 players in the world are in the draw, including World No. 1 and defending champion Ashleigh Barty, who earlier this month won the Yarra Valley Classic title and reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open in her first tournament action in almost a year.

While there were no first-day upsets at Memorial Drive – and only one seed, No. 8 Wang Qiang, was in action – four first-round matches got the 28-player main draw underway in this WTA 500-series outdoor hardcourt event.

Danielle Collins of the United States set up a second-round match with Barty with her 7-6 (5), 6-1 win over No. 44 Zheng Saisai of China in one hour and 37 minutes.

“She’s a really challenging player to play against,” said the 40th-ranked Collins, who beat Zheng for the first time in three head-to-head meetings. “She has a really versatile game and it can be tricky at times. … I knew I had to be patient.”

The victory improved Collins’s win-loss record in Australia this year to 8-3, which has included a quarterfinal finish at the Yarra Valley Classic followed by reaching the semifinals last week in the Phillip Island Trophy. The loss dropped Zheng to 0-4 this year. Collins is winless (0-3) against Barty, including a 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (5) loss in last year’s Adelaide semifinals. They will face off on Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, No. 53 Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia advanced in straight sets over No. 43 Caroline Garcia of France, 6-2, 6-4, by taking advantage of 32 unforced errors to improve her career head-to-head to 2-1 against the Frenchwoman. Sevastova had lost 20 of her last 26 matches coming in. Her next opponent will be No. 4 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium, who reached the fourth round at the Australian Open in singles and won the doubles title with Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Also, Wang defeated 18-year-old Australian wild card Olivia Gadecki, 6-4, 6-3, a week after Gadecki shocked 2020 Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin of the United States during the opening round of the Phillip Island Trophy. The victory was the 34th-ranked Wang’s second of the young season. She broke Gadecki’s serve four times and next will face either No. 58 Jil Teichmann of Switzerland or No. 52 Kristina Mladenovic of France.

Finally, Shelby Rogers of the United States bested Veronika Kudermetova of Russia, 6-3, 7-6 (4), and will face No. 3 seed Johanna Konta of Great Britain in the second round. The 57th-ranked Rogers, who reached the fourth round in Melbourne, won 85 percent of her first serves and took advantage of three breaks of serve against the No. 36 Kudermetova in improving her season record to 7-2. Kudermetova (8-4) was a finalist at Abu Dhabi last month.

News & noteworthy

Besides No. 1 seed Barty, the remaining top four seeds in Adelaide this week include: World No. 12 Belinda Bencic of Switzerland (second seed), No. 15 Konta (third seed), and No. 16 Mertens (fourth seed). Each received a first-round bye.

The remaining seeds, No. 5 Iga Switaek of Poland, No. 6 Petra Martic of Croatia and No. 7 Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan, will play their first-round matches on Tuesday.

Advancing to the main draw after winning two qualifying draw matches were: Madison Brengle of the United States, Jasmine Paolini of Italy, Maddison Inglis of Australia, Coco Gauff of the United States, Liudmila Samsonova of Russia, and Storm Sanders from Australia.

The No. 48 Gauff rebounded from a set and 0-3 down to defeat No. 104 Kaja Juvan of Slovenia, 3-6, 7-5, 5-3, and next will face No. 95 Paolini in the first round of the main draw.

• The winner will receive $68,570 in prize money and 470 WTA Rankings points, while the finalist will earn $51,000 and 305 points.

Monday’s Adelaide International results

Tuesday’s Adelaide International order of play

What they’re saying

World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty was asked during her Media Day interview what she’s looking forward to the most now that she’s back on the WTA Tour after taking nearly a year off due to the coronavirus pandemic:

“I think what excites me the most is being able to do what I love on a regular basis and being able to do it week in, week out. Go through all of the emotions that comes with being a professional athlete. With being a tennis player, obviously, you have some incredible moments, you have some tough moments and I think that’s all the work that you do in between week in week out is what I’ve kind of missed the most.

“So, I think hopefully we get to do that this year, we get to do it soon and kind of start again, which was a massive reason why we wanted to play here in Adelaide this week was to continue that momentum that we built through the last month here in Australia and playing Australia’s always something that I love to do. I’m never shy for saying that, so I think another opportunity to play in Australia, to play in front of fans here in Adelaide is going to be awesome.”