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  • Writer's picturetonyogaga

Australian Open: Barty ends Australia's 44-year wait

Ashleigh Barty has ended Australia's 44-year wait for a home-grown Australian Open champion by beating Danielle Collins in straight sets in the women's singles final yesterday.

The 25-year-old claimed a 6-3 7-6 (7-2) victory over the American at the Rod Laver Arena to march to her third Grand Slam title after winning the 2019 French Open and Wimbledon last year.

Collins - who was appearing in her first-ever Grand Slam final after battling back from devastating illnesses - so nearly forced a deciding third set, but Barty produced an astonishing comeback from 5-1 down in the second set to take the title in front of the home crowd.

With both players holding their own in the opening exchanges and level at 2-2 in the first set, Collins earned her first break point in game five after some powerful cross-court efforts, but Barty saved it to move 3-2 up before breaking in the next game with a double fault from the American.

Collins served to stay in the set and did so in style with an ace, although a love hold from Barty as she served for the set saw her take a 1-0 lead in the final before her remarkable fightback in set two.

Despite the unrelenting support from the crowd, Barty found herself 0-2 down in the second set as Collins broke her serve with a smashing forehand volley before holding to move 3-0 up.

The two-time Grand Slam winner reduced the deficit to 1-3 following a love hold in her next service game, but an uncharacteristic double fault from the home favourite saw Collins move into a seemingly unassailable 5-1 lead.

However, Barty's fighting spirit truly came to the fore as she immediately broke twice and held twice to make it 5-5 - levelling the set with an ace before Collins moved 6-5 up.

Barty has now become Australia's first home-grown Australian Open champion since Chris O'Neil's triumph in 1978 and has also maintained her 100% record in Grand Slam finals with her victory on home soil.

The American appeared to lose her stride and had a word with the umpire as the crowd began to get more fired-up, and Barty served well to force a pulsating tie-break.

The Australian immediately took control of the tie-break to move 5-1 up and found herself with four championship points to her name, ultimately taking the Grand Slam title with a passing shot.

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