To no surprise, Ashleigh Barty will be standing on court in Rod Laver Arena as one of the contestants of the final. To the surprise of some, Danielle Collins will be the one standing across the net come Saturday night in Melbourne.
No matter who stands and hoists up the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup, history will be made. Barty is looking to be the first Australian woman to win on home soil since Chris O'Neil in 1978 while Collins is looking for a maiden major title.
The run that Barty is on cannot be overlooked, but will the American ruin the "Barty Party" tomorrow night. Here is a breakdown of the women's final.
The Aussie owns a 3-1 head-to-head record over Collins, but the American won their last matchup in Adelaide last year. Barty's three wins have come over the last few years, including a victory in Adelaide in 2020 as well as two wins on clay in 2019.m
Barty's Road To The Final
For the world number one, it's been one-way, bulldozing traffic from her. The Wimbledon champion has dropped only 21 games this tournament and lost serve just once this tournament, against Amanda Anisimova.
Not only is she dominant on serve, but she's dominant against serve with 26 breaks of serve so far. It's not like Barty's facing low-quality opposition either. She's taken out the likes of Lesia Tsurenko, Lucia Bronzetti, Camila Giorgi, Anisimova, Jessica Pegula, and Madison Keys. She's left her opposition puzzled and lifeless as they've had no answers for her dominance.
Collins' Road To The Final
In a wide-open section of the draw, Collins was the one who survived it all. When the bracket came out, there were many other contenders others talked about in the likes of Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, Elena Rybakina, Anett Kontaveit, Aryna Sabalenka, and more. In the end, the 27th-seed stood tall after defeating Iga Swiatek in the semifinals.
While her road to the final wasn't as dominant as her opposition's, you can clearly point out that she has been battle-tested. After straightforward wins over Caroline Dolehide and Ana Konjuh, the 27th seed came from a set and a break down against teen sensation Clara Tauson.
She followed that up with another comeback from a set down against Elise Mertens. In the quarterfinals, it was a tight first set against Alize Cornet. After breaking the Frenchwoman's serve to end set one, it has been a dominant last three sets, dropping only six games between her quarter and semifinal matches.
Barty's Keys To Victory
For the Australian, it's pretty simple. Stick to the gameplan of first-strike tennis and neutralize the power of her opponents. Earlier, it was brought up how efficient Barty was on serve, and following up her serve with her forehand has been key in all her matches.
In matches against power-hitters like Giorgi, Anisimova, and Keys. Barty neutralized their power and forced them to overcommit or go for more than they were comfortable with. Going forehand-to-forehand against her was not the answer, and if you hit to her backhand, you were forced to deal with her low, deep slices.
It really does look like it's her time to end the 44-year drought of an Aussie woman winning the title. It seems like she isn't phased by the spotlight, the talk, and the pressure. Her ultimate dream was to win Wimbledon, and she did that last summer. If she keeps it up for one more match, the drought will end.
Tyzzer: "When you see who Ash has to play, you see them out there practicing someone hitting a slice backhand to them. It's probably a bit late the day before to try to get that right. If you haven't practiced it enough now, you're probably not going to get that right.” #AusOpen— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 27, 2022
Collins' Keys To Victory
Power tennis. While that brand of tennis certainly has not worked out for her countrywomen (or other players for a matter of fact), this is the tennis that has gotten her to this point so why fix it if it's not broken.
Her best shot, the cross-court backhand will be important in forcing Barty into uncomfortable positions and more importantly, keeping her away from the forehand. Whenever it was needed, the two-time NCAA champion called upon her favorite shot and made Iga Swiatek, and her other opponents, pay.
Attacking the second serve is just as important as maintaining her "Plan A". Against Swiatek, Collins won 18 of 21 second-serve points from the former French Open champion. Barty has won over 60% of second-serve points in each of her matches, if that number drops to 50% or below, she'll be in with a shout to win.
Prediction: Barty in straight sets