Fourth Time’s A Charm For Collins Against Barty

Danielle Collins (photo: James Elsby/Tennis Australia)

ADELAIDE/WASHINGTON, February 24, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. That’s what American Danielle Collins did against World No. 1 Ashleigh Barty at the Adelaide International on Wednesday evening.

In her fourth head-to-head clash against Barty, Collins came from a break down in both sets to beat the defending champion and top seed from Ipswich, in South East Queensland, Australia.

The 40th-ranked Collins’ 6-3, 6-4 second-round victory against Barty, lasting just 65 minutes on Memorial Drive’s Centre Court, lifted her to the quarterfinals of the WTA 500 series outdoor hardcourt event, and it was her first triumph over the affable Aussie. Collins improved to 9-3 this season with all of her wins coming in Australia.

“I think I was really familiar with her game after losing to her three times, so I certainly got some great tennis lessons out of that and have learned from it,” said Collins during her post-match press conference. Barty beat Collins in last year’s semifinals on Centre Court in Adelaide.

“I think I’m greater for those matches now and I’m trying to make improvements, especially looking back at some of the matches that I had lost last year and this year, so, yeah, just trying to make improvements each match and focusing on that.”

The loss was Barty’s second straight and followed her 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 quarterfinal loss to Karolina Muchova at the Australian Open last week. She said afterward she felt fine physically and was not fatigued. Instead, she gave props to Collins, who finished with 20 winners and came from 1-4 down in the second set by winning 20 of 23 points to close out the victory.

“The court was exceptionally quick, probably the quickest I’ve ever played in Australia and that took some time to adjust,” said Barty, discussing the match with media. “I felt like I knew the pace, it was finding a way to navigate through the match. Danielle was able to control the center of the court, control the baseline and hold court position and on a really quick court that’s vital.”

Collins said her strategy against Barty was to take it a point at a time. “I felt like pretty comfortable on this court, having played on it so many times,” she said. “This is my second time playing in Adelaide and, yeah, I like the court speed, I like the weather. It just kind of suits my game well.

“I just I felt really comfortable today and I kind of had my game plan and knew what I needed to do and just kind of stuck with that even when I was down in both sets. I didn’t get too carried away today.”

Swiatek next for Collins, Sevastova endures

Next, Collins will face No. 5 seed Iga Swiatek of Poland. The 19-year-old teenager, ranked 17th in the world, advanced with a 6-1, 6-3 win over 133rd-ranked Australian qualifier Maddison Inglis on Centre Court following the Collins-Barty match. She hit 26 winners during her 71-minute victory.

The other quarterfinal match in the top half of the draw will pair No. 53 Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia against No. 58 Jil Teichmann of Switzerland. Sevastova reached her first quarterfinal since 2019 after defeating lucky loser Christina McHale of the United States, ranked 84th, 6-4, 6-1. McHale was a last-minute replacement for No. 4 seed Elise Mertens of Belgium, who withdrew citing a right shoulder injury. On Court 1, Teichmann converted seven of 11 break-point opportunities and eliminated No. 8 seed Wang Qiang of China, with a come-from-behind 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 victory.

Bencic, Gauff advance, Sanders surprises

Meanwhile, there was plenty of action in the lower half of the draw, too. No. 2 seed Belinda Bencic in her first match since losing in the third round of the Australian Open, defeated 87th-ranked lucky loser Misaki Doi of Japan, 6-1, 6-3, to reach the Adelaide quarterfinals for the second straight year.

“Misaki’s a very tricky opponent,” said Bencic during an on-court interview after her win. “I had a good game plan, and I was trying to play really aggressive, stepping up with my game, not having fear, and definitely trying to build up my confidence here.”

Next, Bencic will face Australian qualifier Storm Sanders, ranked 291st, who upset No. 7 seed Yulia Putintseva from Kazakhstan, 6-4, 5-7, 6-1.

“It was a tough match, she’s a really tough competitor, she runs a lot of balls down and you know she’s not going to go away,” said Sanders, whose win over the 28th-ranked Putintseva represented the highest-ranked player she’s beaten in her career. “I really had to work for every point out there. There were a lot of long rallies, it was windy, it was swirly, but, yeah, I had the crowd supporting me in the end. Especially on the third set I was feeling pretty tired and they really helped me get through.”

Also, No. 48 Coco Gauff of the United States set up an all-American quarterfinal against Shelby Rogers by outlasting No. 6 seed Petra Martic of Croatia, 5-7, 6-3, 6-4. A day earlier, the 57th-ranked Rogers advanced over No. 3 seed Johanna Konta.

“I love to be on the court and I love to play, so I’m really hoping – I guess tennis is my way of coping with life in general, so playing matches is me coping, I guess,” said Gauff.

Wednesday’s Adelaide International results

Thursday’s Adelaide International order of play

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What they’re saying

Samantha Stosur of Australia, currently ranked 112th, received a wild card entry into the Adelaide International. She lost her first-round match to Australian qualifier Maddison Inglis, 5-7, 7-5, 6-4, in two hours and 43 minutes on Tuesday. During an interview earlier this week, the 36-year-old Stosur was asked to recall what it was like leaving home and going on tour the first time.

“Yeah, look, my first trip really overseas when I was 15 on a junior tour was 10 weeks through Europe. And when you’re 15 and you’ve been overseas twice in your life that was a real wake-up call to what was ahead for my career, I think, because it is tough for us to travel and it’s not easy to go back and forth [between Europe and Australia].

“So, right from when I first started traveling for junior events I was used to being away for a long time and I think over the years you kind of get used to that a little bit. But early in my 20s I thought, I can’t do that back and forth, and I did base myself overseas for a number of years and I think it’s a real balance of, some players really do like to come home and they’re like, no, I can’t stay away the whole time and others are willing to put in the hard yards and be away for six, seven, eight, nine months. I’ve done that plenty of times in my career without coming home.

“At this point now that’s not a position I want to put myself in with, you know, once I pack my bags and go, to be away for the next eight or nine months is not really something that’s so exciting at this point in time.”