MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Unseeded American Danielle Collins took less than an hour to thrash 2016 champion Angelique Kerber 6-0 6-2 and power her way into the quarter-finals of the Australian Open on Sunday.
Tennis – Australian Open – Fourth Round – Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia, January 20, 2019. Danielle Collins of the U.S. celebrates winning the match against Germany’s Angelique Kerber. REUTERS/Aly Song
The unheralded 25-year-old had not won a match in her previous five Grand Slam appearances but after smashing 29 winners against Kerber she has now made it to the last eight in her first main draw showing at Melbourne Park.
Asked if it felt like a Cinderella moment for her, the twice NCAA collegiate champion agreed.
“I guess you could say that. That’s a good way to look at it. It’s been an incredible experience,” she told reporters. “I’m so grateful to be here in Melbourne.
“I definitely played some tournaments in some strange places the first year that I turned pro. I’m really just grateful to be out here doing what I love and playing in front of a good crowd.
“I may not have won a Grand Slam match before this (but) I got to tell you I think it’s going to keep happening.
Ranked 35th in the world, Collins breezed through the opening set in 20 minutes with three service breaks, hitting winners on all sides of the court against the second seed, who had five double faults in the set.
After an early trade of breaks in the second set, Collins smashed a backhand to break Kerber’s serve and take a 4-2 lead, before breaking the German once again to seal victory on her first match point in 56 minutes.
“We spent a good amount of time watching her play. I played her last year, so I was familiar with her game. I had a clear mindset of what I was going to do,” said Collins, who was ranked 167 in the world in 2017 before climbing up to 36 last year.
“From the very first point, I showed her that I wasn’t going to let her into the match, that I was going to dictate the entire way through.
“I stuck to my game plan. It clearly worked out well for me. Pretty much smooth sailing throughout the entire thing.”
Wimbledon champion Kerber, who has struggled with her mental game throughout her career, mumbled to herself constantly and at one stage threw down her racquet in frustration to elicit a warning from the umpire.
Kerber broke Collins’s serve in the first game of the second set and tried to show a bit more emotion only for Collins to come straight back at her.
“I’m feisty,” said Collins. “I love making it kind of a war. If somebody wants to get in my face on my unforced errors, I have no problem getting right back at them and making it a feisty match.
“I love that, embrace it. I love when things get competitive. You haven’t seen me at Topgolf or bowling.
“Even karaoke, I don’t have a good voice, but I always try to do the best at whatever I’m doing. If I’m not, I still tell myself I’m the best.”
Next up for Collins will be either compatriot and fifth seed Sloane Stephens or Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who meet in the last match of the evening.
Editing by Peter Rutherford