Unseeded American Danielle Collins is the first player through to the Australian Open semifinals after coming back from a set down against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Stephanie Livaudais
January 22, 2019

MELBOURNE, Australia - Danielle Collins’ incredible run at the Australian Open continues after coming back from a set down against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova to reach her first-ever Grand Slam semifinals.

Coming into this year’s Australian Open, Collins, a two-time NCAA collegiate tennis champion, had never won a Grand Slam match, going 0-5 in her previous attempts.

But she’s made the tennis world sit up and take notice after her Melbourne heroics, knocking out seeded players like Julia Goerges and Caroline Garcia before claiming her biggest win-by-ranking in epic fashion - she dropped just two games in a one-sided beatdown of World No.2 Angelique Kerber.

Read more: Confident Collins authors Kerber stunner Down Under

She continued her torrid run of form against former Top 20 player Pavlyuchenkova, who was looking to reach her first Grand Slam semifinal after having gone 0-4 previously, losing one match at each Slam.

But in the clash of the last two unseeded players left standing, it was Collins who came back from behind, ousting Pavlyuchenkova with a 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory after over two hours on court.

Collins said: "I think I'm playing really good tennis. I've put in a lot of hard work. This has all been a really incredible experience.

"Obviously it's my first time playing main draw here in Australia, so I think that's a little bit new to me. This time last year I was playing a challenger in Newport Beach. But I think I'm really embracing it." 

Playing in her first-ever match at Rod Laver Arena, Collins was pushed to her limit by Pavlyuchenkova, who had come to the quarterfinals on the back of some impressive wins over her own. The Russian player scored her second career Top 5 win at a Grand Slam when she took down former US Open winner Sloane Stephens in three sets last round.

Pavlyuchenkova made a fast start to the match when she earned the first break at 1-0, but she was in a battle in the next game as she struggled to hold. Collins applied all the pressure with her flat hitting to create five break chances and 11 deuces in a marathon 16-and-a-half-minute second game, but the Russian player grinded out a statement hold of serve to make it 2-0.

With the American still catching her breath, Pavlyuchenkova quickly powered to another break to build up a daunting 3-0 lead. Collins finally got her name on the scoreboard with a break back at 3-1, cutting down on the Russian’s advantage by attacking her vulnerable second serve.


Playing in her first-ever match at Rod Laver Arena, Collins was pushed to her limit by Pavlyuchenkova, who had come to the quarterfinals on the back of some impressive wins over her own. The Russian player scored her second career Top 5 win at a Grand Slam when she took down former US Open winner Sloane Stephens in three sets last round.

Pavlyuchenkova made a fast start to the match when she earned the first break at 1-0, but she was in a battle in the next game as she struggled to hold. Collins applied all the pressure with her flat hitting to create five break chances and 11 deuces in a marathon 16-and-a-half-minute second game, but the Russian player grinded out a statement hold of serve to make it 2-0.

With the American still catching her breath, Pavlyuchenkova quickly powered to another break to build up a daunting 3-0 lead. Collins finally got her name on the scoreboard with a break back at 3-1, cutting down on the Russian’s advantage by attacking her vulnerable second serve.


But Pavlyuchenkova quickly re-established her double-break cushion in the next games for a 5-1 lead, her free-flowing game fully dialled in as Collins’ frustration grew and grew.

Collins made a late push to try and make something happen in the first set, holding serve for the first time, and looking to capitalize on Pavlyuchenkova’s nerves. The Russian double faulted on set point and faced a break point against, but she managed to scrape her way out of it to seal the 49-minute battle.

The American raised her level going into the second set, her dangerous game finally clicking as Pavlyuchenkova’s forehand and second serve seemed to crumble. Collins, who had tidied up her game and cut down on her unforced errors - powered to an early break and consolidated to a 4-1 lead. Pavlyuchenkova managed to fight her way back into it, reeling off three games in a row to break back and make it 5-5, but once again Collins pounced on the Pavlyuchenkova serve to convert her third set point and send the match into a decider.


Fully dialled in and visibly fired up, Collins wasted no time in the third set. She dropped just three points across the first five games as she powered to a double break, 5-0 lead. Pavlyuchenkova couldn’t find any answers for the American’s lights-out hitting, saving a match point to hold for 5-1 but succumbing in the next game as Collins took the match in two hours and 16 minutes.

With the victory, the 25-year-old also marks a major milestone for US college tennis: she’s the first collegiate woman to reach a Grand Slam semifinal since Meredith McGrath’s run at Wimbledon in 1996.

Collins said: "I think not being a child prodigy, not being a superstar at a young age certainly humbled me, made me in a way work harder for things.

"I think I was talented and athletic, but maybe not to the level that other players were at, like, 14, 15, 16. I went a different route. I wasn't really sure if I could make it playing professional tennis when I was that age.

"Going to college was really crucial for me and my development. I think it's kind of made me hungrier in some ways, like not having that, 'Oh, I've always been really amazing at tennis'. It wasn't always like that." 

Standing between the American and a spot in the Australian Open final will be No.8 seed Petra Kvitova who beat Collins en route to the Brisbane title earlier this month.

Collins said: "I played Kvitova once a couple weeks ago and she's tricky because she's a lefty. I followed a lot of her career. She's an incredible champion, has gone through a lot.

"We had a really great battle a couple weeks ago, one of the best matches I've played. I didn't even win that match. So I'm very familiar with her."