MELBOURNE, Australia -- Danielle Collins of the United States continued to excel in her breakthrough Grand Slam event at the 2019 Australian Open, upsetting No.19 seed Caroline Garcia of France, 6-3, 6-2, in the third round on Friday.
"I just went out there full beans," Collins told the press, after her win. "I was ready to take care of business and was feeling very confident with my shots, and ready to go after it, and I did that from the very first point and really stuck to the game plan that my coaches gave me. It was pretty much smooth sailing the entire way through."
World No.35 Collins had never won a Grand Slam main draw match coming into Melbourne, and this is her first time in the main draw of the Australian Open. Nevertheless, the American took out No.14 seed Julia Goerges in an opening-round nailbiter, and now finds herself all the way into the second week of a major after beating her second Top 20 seed of the week.
"There was a point in that first match where [Goerges] was two points away," Collins stated. "Many people probably counted me out. But I just kept my head straight and was really happy to get the win that day, and played really well, and she played really well. That was an incredibly tough match. But I think it gave me a lot of confidence going into the next rounds."
In the first career meeting between Collins and Garcia, Collins claimed a late break of service in the opening set, then never looked back as she sailed to victory after only 63 minutes of play. The American had a stunning 26 winners, twice the amount of Garcia's, and only hit 11 unforced errors throughout the tilt.
Collins will try to keep her inspiring run going into the quarterfinals, but she will have to get past either 2016 Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber or home-grown wild card Kimberly Birrell in the fourth round to do so.
"Kim’s been playing some really good tennis," Collins noted. "It’s going to be a tough match regardless of who I play, and just excited to have another opportunity to go out there and compete my butt off."
"I’ve worked really hard for this my whole life," Collins said, when discussing her first-ever Grand Slam fourth-round showing. "It’s not just something that came overnight, or something that was handed to me. I’ve really put the work in, and it’s been a long journey. I went to college, I did it a different way than most people, and I’m really proud of that."
"I can go on the court with the confidence knowing that I’ve worked for this, and I deserve to be on this stage, and I can play against any of the best players in the world and put on a great show."
Well into the opening frame, it appeared that the match would turn into a protracted affair, as the combatants reached 4-3 without either player coming close to being broken -- none of the first seven games even went to deuce.
But that all turned around in the next game, when Collins crushed a winner plum on the baseline to bring up the first break point of the match. Garcia saved that chance with a sturdy forehand, but Collins quickly clinched a second break point, which was converted with a self-inflicted wound as Garcia double faulted.
Holding the 5-3 lead, Collins slammed a plethora of powerful forehands to close out the opener and put herself one set away from the upset. The American did in fact garner the set without facing a break point, as she won a staggering 20 of 24 points on her serve.
The feisty Collins refused to let up in the second set, using her signature bruising backhand to convert a break point in the first game, and then claiming a 3-0, double-break lead with an outstanding forehand passing shot.
Garcia tripped up the Collins momentum in the following game, picking off a volley on break point to notch her first service break of the day and end the unseeded player’s six-game run. But Collins was undeterred, breaking the Frenchwoman at love in the very next game to lead 4-1 and reclaim her heavy advantage.
At 5-1, former World No.4 Garcia finally held serve in the second set, taking the game emphatically with a string of forehand and service bombs. Collins, faced with serving for the match at 5-2, fell behind 0-30, but her mental toughness steered her back, and she won four straight points, the final two with brilliant backhand winners, to wrap up another big victory.