No.1 seed Ashleigh Barty ended her country's 44-year wait for a home Grand Slam champion, coming from 5-1 down in the second set to defeat No.27 Danielle Collins 6-3, 7-6(2) in the Australian Open final.
The title is Barty's third Grand Slam crown, and second out in the past three, following Roland Garros 2019 and Wimbledon 2021. The 25-year-old Barty becomes the second active player to claim major titles on all three surfaces, alongside 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams. The last Australian woman to lift the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup was Chris O'Neil in 1978.
Barty is also the eighth WTA player in the Open Era to win Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the Australian Open. Appropriately, the only other woman to capture her first three majors at each of those was fellow Indigenous Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who presented Barty with the trophy afterward. Coincidentally, Barty defeated four of the same opponents en route to the title this fortnight as she did in Paris three years ago: Collins, Madison Keys, Jessica Pegula and Amanda Anisimova.
Win a Grand Slam on home soil? Completed it mate 🇦🇺🏆@ashbarty defeats Danielle Collins 6-3 7-6(2) to become the #AO2022 women’s singles champion.— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 29, 2022
🎥: @wwos • @espn • @eurosport • @wowowtennis #AusOpen pic.twitter.com/TwXQ9GACBS
It is World No.1 Barty's 15th title overall, fourth on home soil and second in a row following her Adelaide triumph in the first week of 2022. She has won 12 of her past 14 finals dating back to Miami 2019, with her only losses coming to Naomi Osaka at Beijing 2019 and Aryna Sabalenka at Madrid 2020.
Barty, who is now on an 11-match winning streak, is the first player to win the Australian Open without dropping a set since Serena Williams in 2017. She becomes the fifth active player to tally three or more Grand Slam titles alongside Serena, Venus Williams, Osaka and Angelique Kerber.
Collins is the second former college player to reach the Australian Open final in as many years after Jennifer Brady was runner-up to Osaka in 2021. The 28-year-old has compiled a 42-11 record since returning from endometriosis surgery last May; she will make her Top 10 debut next week and rise to the top-ranked player from the United States.
Keys to the match: Barty's serve has been key to her dominant start to 2022. Coming into the final, she had dropped serve only once this fortnight, against Anisimova in the fourth round - which had snapped a streak of 63 consecutive service holds.
In the first set, that stroke was supreme once again. Barty won 15 out of 16 first serve points and faced only one break point at 2-2, which she saved that with a clinical one-two punch. Collins' return had been lethal against Iga Swiatek in the semifinals, but the American was only able to put 11 out of 30 back in play against Barty in the first set.
Having saved that break point, Barty pounced immediately in the next game, bringing up her first of the match by powering away a forehand winner, and converting it as Collins double-faulted for the first time.
An undaunted Collins mounted a strong response in the second set. Barty opened the door with a series of forehand errors, and Collins landed an emphatic overhead - accompanied by a trademark fiery exhortation - to break for 2-1. Barty's edgy play continued as she threw in a pair of double faults two games later. A ferocious Collins return sealed the 5-1 double break lead.
With a third set seemingly inevitable, Barty loosened up again. Her tight forehand errors were replaced by a series of precise winners off that wing to gain one of the breaks back, and from that point the comeback was on. Collins, serving for the set for the second time at 5-3, reached 30-0, only to be denied by another trio of Barty forehands.
If there was any doubt that Barty's nerveless first-set form had returned, it was exemplified as she took control of the ensuing tiebreak. Cool-headed point construction with a drop shot-forehand-smash combination put her up 4-0, and five points later, she sealed her first championship point with a precise forehand pass.
Barty on the winning moment: "It was a little bit surreal," she said afterward. "I think I didn't quite know what to do or what to feel, and I think just being able to let out a little bit of emotion, which is a little bit unusual for me. Being able to celebrate with everyone who was there in the crowd, the energy was incredible tonight. Being able to understand how much work my team and I have done behind the scenes and over the last few years, to get to this point to be able to have this opportunity was really special. I think it just kind of all came out at once - a really, really special moment.
"I honestly just thought how lucky am I that I've got so many people here that love me for me, and got to experience this with me. Because I was gutted when mum and dad and some of my team couldn't be there in Paris and in London. I think to be able to have almost everyone here was really, really special, and to do it at home and to be able to do it with them experience it with them was really special. Yeah, mum was always going to be the first one that I gave a hug to."
Barty on Australia's tennis heritage: "As Aussies, we're exceptionally lucky to be a Grand Slam nation," she said. "To get to experience to play at home is really special, and to be here as a champion of the tournament is really exciting.
"We're extremely lucky to have the tennis history and the rich history that we do, particularly here at the Australian Open. But across all Grand Slams, we've had champions that have stemmed back years and years and years, and have really set the platform for us to come through and try and do what we do and try and create our own path.
"I think there are a few that are closer to home for me. Obviously more of their stories I've been more invested in, just because I know them more as a person. Those people that come to mind, Pat Rafter and Evonne, in the way that they handled themselves on the court - for me, there's just no one better. Recently you've had Dylan [Alcott], Sam [Stosur], who are really able to just enjoy the experience and bring so many different people to tennis, bring so many different walks of life to this beautiful sport that we play.
"I think I'm a very, very small part of that. I'm still trying to figure out what I'm doing myself, but to be a very small part of an amazing history in tennis as an Australian is really, really neat."
Barty on winning majors on every surface: "There's still work to be done, without a doubt," she said. "I feel very humble to be in such a select group. To be honest, I don't really feel like I belong with those champions of our sport. I'm still very much learning and trying to refine my craft every single day and get better and better.
"It's amazing to be able to have this experience and this opportunity on three different surfaces and be really consistent across the board. Ultimately that was one of the biggest challenges that [former coach] Jim [Joyce] set out for me when I was young - to be a complete player and be able to play on all surfaces.
"So to have a Grand Slam title on each surface is pretty amazing. I never thought it would ever happen to me. So very, very lucky and very humbled and privileged to be able to be a part of it."
Collins on her first Grand Slam final experience: "It's not easy going out and playing someone pretty much on their home court, on home soil, in the finals of a major, but this is what we live for in sports, right?" Collins said afterwards. "These are incredible moments that you don't get to experience very often. It was a real honor to be out there. I tried to embrace every moment, I tried to get the crowd fired up. I tried to get myself into it, did everything I could.
"That kind of stuff [a moment in which Collins was heckled] only helps me. Those who've watched me over the last couple of years have seen that and learned that. I love nothing more than someone doing something like that because I love competing and trying to make it fun."
Collins on succeeding without a coach: "I really am having to coach myself," she said. "You know, so many of the top players have a full entourage or posse and support team doing their homework for them. That's not the way it's been for me really ever in my career. I haven't worked consistently with a coach for longer than a few months. So I've had to do a lot on my own and a lot of homework, a lot of scouting, a lot of technical work. It hasn't been easy. It's been very challenging and mentally taxing at times.
"I think I went in with the right game plan. I did, again, everything I could, but unfortunately there were some things that were just not working for me. That's really hard technically, if you're not in a good place physically, to be able to get yourself to do those things.
"Today my body wasn't always agreeing with me, and I was in a little bit of a fight with my body, which is to be expected when you go this far in a tournament [..] But I'm just trying to stick with the process and do the best that I can. I'm learning a lot of things along the way. Ash certainly taught me a lot of things today on court."
Tyzzer on Barty's improvements: "There's still areas we continue to work on still, she's got to get better at," Craig Tyzzer, Barty's coach, said afterward. "I'm not gonna tell what you they are, because that's giving away a few too many secrets. But there's still room for improvement.
"I think what she's done really well is just that she's enjoyed it. She's been really composed and enjoyed playing. Tonight we knew what the challenges were going to be, like Danielle can just blow you off the court at times. So she was looking forward to that challenge: OK, how do I figure out how to beat this girl who can just hit you into the corners and hurt you every time you drop it short?
"I think for her that's the best part. She's enjoying playing, enjoying the challenges. There's still areas we'll work on with her game. I probably don't have to do too much with her serve now. It seems to be working really well. But you're always looking for areas to get better.
"[Roland Garros 2019] was totally unexpected. Her game then was probably nowhere near the level it is now. If she was playing the level she's playing now, I would expect she would go through the French in that year pretty well. I felt she struggled, it was up and down; there was no up and down here. There wasn't too much up and down at Wimbledon . Even though she was very underdone tennis-wise, she still was a constant level in her matches through that. She struggled a bit just because she hadn't played a lot of tennis.
"But I feel like her consistency, her ability to play and adapt against different players - even today, different conditions, and still feel like she can control and execute, I think that's a big improvement for her. Yeah, I feel like she's a lot better than 2019."