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Collins looking for ‘the zone’ to deny Barty Australian Open title

MELBOURNE (AFP) – Danielle Collins faces a daunting task in the Australian Open final today against a world number one who is aiming to become the first homegrown women’s champion in 44 years, backed by a fiercely partisan crowd.

But the resurgent American is ready to tackle top seed and clear favourite Ashleigh Barty.
A raging Collins was in “the zone” to take apart Polish seventh seed Iga Swiatek and make her first Grand Slam final. She knows if she can find the sweet spot again today she has a

“I think for me when I have a really clear idea of my tactics and what I want to do, it’s easier for me to get there,” said the 27th seed, who is pain-free after surgery last year for endometriosis.

“But then, you know, just like any other athlete and I think all of us on tour, you know, we have days where we try to get in the zone and we can’t.

“But I think it really helps when you can have a real clear road map to what you want to do on court and how you want to execute your game plan.”

The big-hitting Collins will need to bring more than just raw power to counter the tactical Barty who has been rampant so far, winning 20 of 21 sets this year.

As Jessica Pegula put it after losing to the Australian in the quarter-finals: “I think she’s definitely living in everyone’s head a little bit.

“I don’t think anyone is going to feel great going out to play her because they know they have to play really well.”

But Collins has proven at Melbourne Park that she belongs on the big stage, and has pushed Barty hard in their previous four matches, winning their previous encounter in Adelaide last year in straight sets.

“I’m going to have to kind of look back at some of the matches that we have played in the past and sit down and think about what worked well and maybe some of the things that didn’t work as well and just try to come up with the best game plan possible,” she said.

Working against Barty could be the weight of expectation.

She is the first Australian woman into the decider of her home Grand Slam since Wendy Turnbull in 1980 and is aiming to become the first winner since Chris O’Neil in 1978.