The Comeback Kid: Can Danielle Collins win her first grand slam title in Australia?

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The Comeback Kid: Can Danielle Collins win her first grand slam title in Australia?

Danielle Collins did the improbable again, defeating the No. 7 seed Iga Swiatek—the 2018 French Open grand slam winner and youngest player in the WTA Top 10—in dominant fashion, 6-4, 6-1, to book her first grand slam final at the Australian Open.

Danielle Collins has defied the odds for so much of her career. Instead of turning professional early on like so many of her compatriots—the Williams sisters, Madison Keys, and Sloane Stephens—28 year-old Collins opted to pursue college.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in media studies and business school from the University of Virginia, earning two NCAA singles championships along the way, and finishing as the top ranked college player.

No one predicted the Floridian’s spectacular run just two years after her 2016 graduation, rising through the qualifying rounds at the 2018 Miami Open to her breakthrough in the semifinals of the tournament, cracking the Top 50 that same year.

She followed that sensational surprise the very next year by beating the world No. 2, Angelique Kerber, to book her first grand slam semifinal spot at the 2019 Australian Open and riding her confidence all the way to the 2020 French Open quarters in singles.

On Monday, Danielle Collins will enter the Top 10 and become the highest ranked American player in singles, male or female. Health setback in 2021 followed by resounding victory Danielle Collins’s fiery rise is a singular story in tennis.

There simply is no one like the spirited American in her peerless journey to tennis glory.

Despite establishing her footprint on the tennis scene in 2018, Collins’s road has not been an easy one. Her win over Swiatek was an emotional victory as well, proving the American’s resilience one year after she retired from their match at the Adelaide International tournament in February 2021.

Collins retired from that quarterfinal with severe back pain, only to see Swiatek go on to win her second career title. The severe back pain turned out to be a much more serious condition, along with frequent and debilitating abdominal and pelvic cramping.

Already coping with rheumatoid arthritis since 2018, it turned out Collins was also suffering from endometriosis, a painful disorder where tissue meant to line the uterus grows outside of it, and forcing the tennis player to elect for emergency surgery to remove a tennis ball-size cyst from her ovary in April of that year.

Facing down the obstacle of Iga Swiatek was a symbolic victory as well as an important component of Danielle Collins’s comeback story. Back-to-back victories Danielle Collins entered the summer of 2021 with renewed vigor, competing at the French Open.

Shen then went on to collect her first WTA title at the Palermo International clay tournament, and followed up with another sensational title—this time on hardcourt—at the Silicon Valley Classic. Any questions about her health were left behind.

"It feels incredible, especially after some of the health challenges I've had,'' Collins said in her postmatch interview, according to ESPN. "To be able to get back to this level and be able to compete like the way I have been and being able to be as physical as I haven't been is so rewarding.

"I feel pretty good right now. I've had some great matches along the way at this tournament ... really happy about how I'm feeling physically and mentally.' '

Chances against Ash Barty on her home turf Collins’s AO matches have included victories over top ranked players Elise Mertens, Alize Cornet in addition to Swiatek.

Collins has also won the athletic battle over her body and is poised to face her biggest challenge yet: the world No. 1 player, Ashleigh Barty with a hometown crowd staunchly behind her.

But don’t underestimate the American.

Despite Barty’s winning record over Collins, the Florida native won their last matchup at the Adelaide International event last year, in straight sets. If there’s one thing we’ve learned about Danielle Collins, she’s a fighter. And right now, she’s on a hot streak.