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Ash Barty wins drought-breaking Australian title

Barty was the first Australian woman into the singles final of the Australian Open since Wendy Turnbull in 1980 and is now the first Australian champion since Chris O'Neil in 1978

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Ash Barty
Ash Barty

Adding another feather to her cap, world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty outplayed Danielle Collins in the final to win the 2022 women's singles title, ending her country's 44-year wait for a home Grand Slam champion, here on Saturday.

Top seed Barty overturned a 5-1 deficit in the second set to defeat No. 27 seed Collins 6-3, 7-6(2) in the final, becoming the first home champion at the tournament since Chris O'Neil in 1978.

The title is Barty's third Grand Slam crown, and second out of the last three, following Roland Garros 2019 and Wimbledon 2021. The 25-year-old becomes the second active player to claim major titles on all three surfaces, alongside 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams.

Barty is also the eighth WTA player in the Open Era to win Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the . 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.

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 without dropping a set since Serena Williams in 2017.

"First and foremost, I have to say congratulations to Danielle and your team. I know you'll be fighting for many more of these in the future," said Barty.

"To my team, wow. I said numerous times I'm so lucky to have so many people here that love and support me. We started right together from the start in the second part of my career. I love you guys to death, you're the absolute best in the business.

"As an Aussie, the most important part of the tournament is being able to share it with so many people. This crowd is one of the most fun I've ever played in front of. You brought so much joy, you relaxed me and forced me to play my best tennis. This is just a dream come true for me and I am so proud to be an Aussie," she added.

In the first set, Barty won 15 out of 16 first-serve points and faced only one breakpoint at 2-2, which she saved with a clinical one-two punch. Collins' return had been lethal against Iga Swiatek in the semi-finals, 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 from a forehand winner, and converting it as Collins double-faulted for the first time, a wtatennis.com report said.

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, and 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.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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First Published: Sat, January 29 2022. 16:21 IST