AUSTRALIAN OPEN: DAY 9
American Danielle Collins continues to be the story of the women’s draw at the Australian Open. The twenty-five year old, ranked thirty-five has never won a title. In fact, prior to this Australian Open, she had never won a match at any of the majors. Perhaps some would call her a late bloomer; however, Collins went to college and has a college degree. So while it appears that it is taking a little longer for things to jell, she has a valid excuse.
Collins is a fighter and is hungry; she did not have the luxury of training at expensive tennis academies, instead she practiced on the public courts, honing her game with some old folks and that is why she is so good at problem solving on the court. That is also the reason that she is ready and willing to fight for what she wants, because nothing has ever been handed to her on a silver platter. She got more structured coaching in college, which helped to smooth out the rough edges of her game.
She showed her fight from the very first round of the tournament. A set, a break down and two points from losing in the first round, Collins dug deep to upset the fourteenth seed, Julia Goerges. The German sailed through the first set, and looked set to capture the match in straight sets; however, Collins never stopped believing and fighting. She broke back to force a tiebreak and then went on to win the match.
Perhaps she got off to a nervous start today; understandable, given the magnitude of the moment. It was her first major quarterfinal match and her first time playing on the Rod Laver Arena. Her opponent, forty-two ranked Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, came out much calmer and broke the American early to win the first set 6-2. Collins shrugged off the loss and regrouped in set two. She broke the Russian and had a lead; however, the Russian was not ready to concede the set without a fight. Both players understood fully what was at stake, and neither was willing to go down without a fight.
At 5-6 down, Pavlyuchenkova could not force a tiebreak as the American came up with some winners to break again and force a decider. While the desire was there to fight, the Russian ran out of gas. The American took control of the third set with her serve and backhand and destroyed any hope that the Russian had of making it to her first major semifinal. Collins won 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 and is into her first major semifinal; she will play the eighth seed, Petra Kvitova, who defeated her earlier this season in Brisbane in a tough three-set battle. Can Collins pull off yet another upset in the semifinals?
 Rafael Nadal (ESP) defeated  Frances Tiafoe (USA) 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 crushing Americans’ hope of an American male winning the Open. Next up for Nadal is the young Greek phenom and fourteenth seed, Stefanos Tsitsipas. Tsitsipas defeated the two-time defending champion, Roger Federer. Can Tsitsipas pull off another upset, or will Nadal end his run?
J. Brady/A. Riske (USA) defeated the seventh seeds, H. Chan/L. Chan (TPE) 6-3, 7-6(3).
SOURCE OF IMAGE: Zimbio.com (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images AsiaPac: Danielle Collins)
INSERTED IMAGES: serveandrally originals (Petra Kvitova and Rafael Nadal)