World no. 1 Ashleigh Barty is through the 13th WTA final, defeating Danielle Collins 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 in an hour and 55 minutes to stay on the course for the first title in front of the home fans. After an early loss in Brisbane, Ashleigh was ready to give her best in Adelaide and chase the best possible result ahead of the Australian Open where she is among the favorites to go all the way.
Nonetheless, the world's leading player had to dig deep to oust an in-form American who likes to play down under, producing incredible tennis this week and making a great start today as well before falling in the deciding set tie break.
Barty beat Collins twice on clay last year and it was a completely different encounter today, with the American losing serve once in sets one and three overall. Even that was enough for Ashleigh to move over the finish line first, firing 14 aces and suffering two breaks from just three chances offered to her opponent.
Danielle was the player to beat so far this week in Auckland and she certainly proved that in the opener, holding at love with an ace in the first game and forcing an error from Barty to grab a break and forge an instant advantage.
Serving at 4-2, the American blasted fore from her groundstrokes to fend off three break chances, bringing the game home and sealing the set with a forehand winner in the ninth game after 29 minutes. Raising her level, the crowd favorite dropped only five points behind the initial shot in set number two, breaking Collins after a double fault in game two and taking five straight points on the return at 3-0 to increase the advantage following a backhand error from her opponent.
Collins saved two set points in the sixth game before Ashleigh sealed the set with a hold at 15 in the next game, spending less than 30 minutes on the court and looking good to seal the deal in the decider. There, the American recovered her shots to stay in touch with the Aussie in the first six games before Barty moved in front with a forehand down the line winner, taking a big step towards the finish line.
Danielle took a medical timeout during the break and stole Ashleigh's serve when they returner to level the score at 4-4, staying neck and neck until the tie break where Barty moved 4-2 up with a booming serve. Collins fought back to remain in touch before her backhand found the net at 5-6, sending Barty into the final and switching her focus to the Australian Open where she was the semi-finalist a year ago.