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Collins outplayed Swiatek in the semi-final
The American raced into 4-0 leads in both sets as she targetted Swiatek's second serve
Collins will face Ashleigh Barty in Saturday's final
American Danielle Collins showed formidable sharpness to upset seventh seed Iga Swiatek and reach her first ever major final at the Australian Open. World No 30 Collins was the underdog on Thursday, facing a former Roland Garros champion, but she ripped her way through the semi-final and Swiatek's serve, like a woman possessed.
She kept up a near-flawless level to achieve the biggest result of her career, hitting 27 winners and only 13 unforced errors, to completely throw Poland's Swiatek off, breaking her serve six times in the 6-4, 6-1 win. Afterwards, Swiatek could only concede: "I think that was the fastest ball I have ever played against... She played a perfect match, it happens." And she was right, Collins could do no wrong.
She had only previously been in this position once before, at this same tournament in 2019, but Collins was stalking her way around Rod Laver Arena like this was the moment she always believed she had within her. At the end, she barely celebrated, such was her focus.
"I think today with the tactics and game plan that I had, getting off to the solid start that I had, I felt like I was really in the zone," Collins said afterwards. "There wasn't a lot getting in my way."
Her story is an unconventional one, only turning pro aged 22 in 2016, after dominating the college circuit. She also came back from major surgery in the spring of last year, undergoing a procedure to alleviate debilitating endometriosis symptoms and remove "a cyst the size of a tennis ball" on her ovary.
Her performance in the second half of 2021, with a win-loss record of 31-7, and her run to the final in Melbourne is evidence of just how much her condition might have been holding her back. On Thursday she looked on a mission from the onset, committing to an aggressive game plan that had Swiatek flustered. Known for her overspilling intensity, the way she loudly yells "c'mon!" to get herself fired up, for this match Collins was mostly silent.
It turned out to be an ominous sign, and her swagger and returning helped her storm to a 4-0 lead. Collins only faltered when, at 5-2 up and serving for the opening set, she double faulted to relinquish one of her two breaks. Swiatek saw a brief opening, losing the tightness that had her misfiring. But Collins was not done. The very next game, she hit a cross-court backhand return winner and unleashed a "c'mon!" louder than Melbourne Park has heard this fortnight. From then on, though Swiatek clawed back two more games in that first set, Collins was fully in control. Time and again, as Swiatek tossed the ball up into the air for her serve, Collins would leap inside the baseline, swiping the ball back to take ownership of the point.
On seven occasions she crunched a return winner back for good measure. She was barely missing, hitting only two unforced errors in the second set, and allowed Swiatek to win just one point on her second serve. On several occasions Swiatek put her hands in the air in exasperation, looking at her box for an answer.
But there was really not much she could do. Collins ploughed to the finish line, breaking Swiatek's serve again on the final game to set up a final against home favourite Ashleigh Barty.
Iga Swiatek vs Danielle Collins, as it happened
That's all folks
Thanks as always for joining. Everything you need to know about the women's final is here.
Tomorrow is men's semi-final day. Join us for Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Daniil Medvedev at 8am
Collins' road to the final
Danielle Collins’ Road to the #AusOpen Final:
R1: d. Dolehide 61 62
R2: d. Konjuh 64 63
R3: d. Tauson 46 64 75
R4: d.  Mertens 46 64 64
QF: d. Cornet 75 61
SF: d.  Swiatek 64 61
Time on court: 10:37 pic.twitter.com/66Mq9dCwg5
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 27, 2022
It feels amazing. It has been such a journey. It is so many years of hard work. Yesterday I spoke about all the early mornings my Dad would get up and practice with me before school.
It is incredible to be on this stage, especially after all the health challenges. I couldn't be happier.
The numbers reflect how dominant Collins was today:
Collins - 7 aces, 82 per cent returns in, 6/10 on break points, 27 winners, 13 unforced errors.
Swiatek - Won just 14 per cent on her 2nd serve, only 57 per cent returns in, 2/3 on break points, 12 winners, 13 unforced errors.
The women's final is set
No.1 Ashleigh Barty
No.30 Danielle Collins.
Barty leads the H2H 3-1.
The last person to beat her in Australia: Danielle Collins at 2021 Adelaide.
— WTA Insider (@WTA_insider) January 27, 2022
Swiatek* 4-6, 1-6 Collins (*denotes server)
Swiatek has tried everything but nothing is slowing Collins down. When she tries to force it, it goes wrong.
A forehand just misses the line, 15-30. Collins forehand return winner, two match points.
Swiatek hangs for dear life but does really well to win the point with a backhand winner. GAME. SET. MATCH. Another Swiatek second serve is hammered back by Collins and Swiatek hits a backhand long.
What a performance.
Swiatek 4-6, 1-5 Collins* (*denotes server)
It's been a ball striking clinic from Collins today. A third second serve ace of the match from Collins, 40-15.
And she moves a ball away from the final after another big serve down the T and a forehand winner.
Swiatek* 4-6, 1-4 Collins (*denotes server)
Swiatek forehand winner to open the game. A fourth double fault makes it 30-15. What a return and forehand cross court winner by Collins, 30-30. She's seeing the ball like a basketball right now.
Swiatek forehand winner, 40-30. And she holds when Collins puts a return wide.
Swiatek 4-6, 0-4 Collins* (*denotes server)
The frustration is growing with every point for Swiatek. Collins second serve ace, 40-15.
One of the best rallies of the match sees Swiatek anticipate well to flick a backhand winner cross court, 40-30.
Collins is taken to deuce after a forehand error. Timely first serve down the T by Collins.
And Collins comes through that test to move two games away from the final.
Swiatek* 4-6, 0-3 Collins (*denotes server)
The situation is looking critical for Swiatek now. Collins crushes another forehand to get a forehand error from Swiatek.
Collins destroys Swiatek's second serve with a backhand winner, 0-30. Collins gets another look at a second serve and Swiatek goes for more pace but Collins reacts well and Swiatek goes long with a forehand.
Collins forehand return winner to break.
Swiatek 4-6, 0-2 Collins* (*denotes server)
Comfortable love hold by Collins to consolidate the break. Polish fans in the crowd looking a bit downbeat.
Uphill task for Swiatek now.
Second Set: Swiatek* 4-6, 0-1 Collins (*denotes server)
Must win set of course for Swiatek. Pacey body serve by Swiatek but Collins adjusts to hit a forehand return winner down the line, 15-15.
Swiatek nets a forehand, 15-30. Yet another return winner by Collins, two break points.
And she gets the break after rushing Collins with a deep return then stepping inside the court to rip a backhand winner.
Swiatek 4-6 Collins* (*denotes server)
Collins ace, 30-0. And another. Three set points.
Collins double fault, 40-15. Great defense by Swiatek but Collins doesn't collapse either and Swiatek eventually hits a forehand into the net.
First set goes to the world No 30.
Swiatek* 4-5 Collins (*denotes server)
Huge roar from Collins after she drills a backhand return winner cross court, 15-15. Pin point accuracy from Collins again with a forehand down the line winner, 15-30.
Excellent footwork by Swiatek to guide in a forehand down the line. And she wins another game when Collins makes a backhand error.
Can Collins serve it out now?
Swiatek 3-5 Collins* (*denotes server)
First ace for Collins makes it 15-15. Another good serve is unreturned by Swiatek, 30-15. A second ace of the game gives Collins two set points.
Good defense by Swiatek to hang in the rally and Collins nets. Swiatek takes the game to deuce after a great return of her own and a volley winner.
Set point No 3 for Collins. But she double faults. Nervous?
Collins backhand misses by some way, break point Swiatek. Another double fault and Swiatek break.
Clear signs of tension there.
Swiatek* 2-5 Collins (*denotes server)
Double fault by Swiatek followed by a 143km/h forehand winner by Collins makes it 0-30.
Collins forehand winner, 15-30. Collins punishes another Swiatek second serve by going on the attack and finishes with a drive backhand winner.
Swiatek saves the first. But not the second as Collins hits a deep backhand return and Swiatek puts a forehand long.
Her serve is broken for the third time today.
Swiatek 2-4 Collins* (*denotes server)
All business from Collins as she moves to 30-15 and she hasn't lost a point when her first serve has gone in.
Much more like it from Swiatek as she hits a backhand winner down the line, 30-30.
Another power point by Swiatek draws an error from Collins and the Pole gets her first break points.
Swiatek backhand error, not a good shot. Collins double faults, her first of the match, second break point.
And Swiatek gets one of the breaks back as she dominates the rally with her backhand and finishes with a forehand winner.
Swiatek* 1-4 Collins (*denotes server)
Collins is giving Swiatek no time to settle - see ball, hit ball. Swiatek nets a downbeat looking forehand, 30-30.
Ideal serve +1 from Swiatek as she finishes with a forehand winner, 40-30. Knowing she's being killed on the second serve, Swiatek goes for it but hits a double fault.
Collins goes for a big forehand return but just misses. And another forehand error allows Swiatek to finally get on the scoreboard.
Swiatek 0-4 Collins* (*denotes server)
Swiatek seemed to have the advantage in the rally after an angled return but Collins gets the ball back deep, seizes the initiative and the Pole makes the error. She slaps her thigh in frustration.
Collins consolidates the double break after a forehand error by Swiatek.
Swiatek* 0-3 Collins (*denotes server)
Collins is all over Swiatek's serve and she hits a backhand return winner to make it 0-30. Beautiful backhand down the line by Collins makes it 15-40.
A bit of power on the groundstrokes from Swiatek and Collins nets a defensive forehand. But another deep return by Collins allows her to come forward and Swiatek's backhand pass is called out.
Double break for the American.
Swiatek 0-2 Collins* (*denotes server)
Rampant start to the match by Collins continues as she moves to 40-0 but Swiatek crushes a forehand down the line winner.
Collins consolidates the break with a backhand cross court winner. The confidence is clear in the American at this stage of the match.
— #AusOpen (@AustralianOpen) January 27, 2022
First Set: Iga Swiatek* 0-1 Danielle Collins (*denotes server)
Aggressive start by Collins as her returns on the opening two points draws errors from Swiatek. Swiatek double fault, two early break point chances for Collins.
Collins goes for another return but is just wide with it. But she duly gets the break when she takes control of the rally and forces another error from Swiatek. Nervy start by the Pole.
Here we go...
...the players are warming up ahead of their match. It is going to be an interesting match up.
'Fame is hard for young people like me and Emma Raducanu'
Ahead of the tournament, Swiatek spoke to the Telegraph's Molly McElwee about a number of topics.
And you can get to know the semi-finalist from Poland here.
Hello and welcome to the second Australian Open semi-final between Iga Swiatek and Danielle Collins.
Collins was too steady for Alize Cornet in their quarterfinal on Wednesday and then was content to watch Swiatek swelter in the center-court heat in a three-hour struggle with 36-year-old Kaia Kanepi to book her spot in the last four.
"I think now that I've made quarterfinals at French (2020) and semifinals here before, I can use those experiences to certainly help me in the tight, pressure moments on court. I've made some deeper runs in tournaments since then," Collins said.
The pair have met only once previously with Collins forced to retire trailing 6-2, 3-0 in the 2021 Adelaide quarter-finals.
Collins had surgery last April and it has been a long road back to her first Grand Slam semi-final since 2019 in Melbourne.
"When you're dealing with that type of physical pain multiple weeks out of the month, you're not putting yourself in a position to be able to perform consistently and to be at your best whether as an athlete or a person," she told reporters.
"I think I certainly feel a lot freer just not having to deal with the symptoms that I used to deal with, that not being a continuous issue that I'm dealing with on a daily basis."
Collins' fitness was on full display during a sweltering morning match at Rod Laver Arena, the 27th seed ramping up the aggression to blow Cornet off the court in the second set.
She showed no nerves as she hammered a forehand down the line to earn two match points, then sealed it when Cornet thudded a forehand into the net.
"It feels incredible," said Collins. "Especially after some of the health challenges I've had. To be able to compete with these women, it's such an honour."
Collins said that more open discussions could help women players cope with periods better and manage performance.
"I think anytime you're dealing with injuries, I think there's certainly a science behind looking at your menstrual cycles," she said. "I think it's an important discussion that medical teams can have with athletes."