MADRID, Spain - No.9 seed Ashleigh Barty claims her 10th win in a row to power into the Madrid Open third round for the first time in her career, taking down Danielle Collins in three sets.
The Aussie came into the matchup on a tear after lifting the biggest title of her career back in Miami - scoring wins over the likes of Karolina Pliskova, Kiki Bertens, and Petra Kvitova along the way. She backed it up with a heroic performance in Fed Cup, scoring two singles wins to send her country into the final.
After dominating the first set against Collins in Madrid, Barty found herself in trouble as the American roared back in the second. But Barty rallied to complete the 6-1, 1-6, 6-1 victory in an hour and 25 minutes to book her spot in the third round.
Collins, this year’s Australian Open semifinalist, has much more experience playing on green clay instead of the red clay found in Europe. In fact, the 25-year-old American’s first round victory over Vera Zvonareva, 6-1, 6-4, was only her third WTA main draw win on the red stuff.
She was eager to add to her count against Barty - but the Aussie quickly crushed those hopes as she took control of the first set, capitalizing on the American’s lack of experience and applying her heavy pace and variety. After a tentative start, both players feeling each other out, Barty reeled off five games in a row, covering the court with ease and recording back-to-back breaks to close out the set.
The second set finished just as the first set did - 6-1 after about 25 minutes - but this time the score was in Collins’ favor at the American mounted a spectacular comeback. Collins raised her level to beat Barty from the ground, finding the answer to the Aussie’s powerful serves and able to keep Barty under pressure. Just like Barty did in the first set, Collins broke at 3-1 and reeled off the last five games in a row to level the match.
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Putting the disappointing second set behind her, Barty rallied in the third as she opened with a 3-0 lead after scoring a break in the second game. Collins stopped the rot at 3-1, holding serve after dodging break points in a marathon, five-minute game. But Barty was relentless, getting right back on track and reeling off the next three games in a row to take the match in three sets.
Barty blasted 18 winners and 19 unforced errors during the topsy-turvy affair, serving at 55% and adding five aces to her tally. Although on paper Collins outpaced the Aussie with 23 winners and 73% of first serves, she wasn’t able to apply the pressure against Barty - converting just two of three break points she created, while Barty broke four times from eight chances.
Up next, Yulia Putintseva awaits Barty as the Aussie tries to reach the quarterfinals in Madrid for the first time. Putintseva took down Pauline Parmentier earlier in the day, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, to advance.
More to follow...