Danielle Collins holds her own against Elena Rybakina to win the Miami Open | tennis

Right at the start of the season, Danielle Collins, a former Australian Open runner-up, casually revealed that this would be her last year as a professional tennis player. Unlike many others who find it difficult to move on, Collins discussed her decision without fear. Instead, coming to terms with the end of her career was liberating because she was able to throw herself into the hurdles and make sure she got to the finish without any regrets.

Having already started the year with good performances, Collins has spent the last two weeks playing tennis at the highest level, methodically beating the best players in the world off the court. On Saturday, Collins completed one of the best weeks of work of her career by defeating fourth seed Elena Rybakina 7-5, 6-3 to win the Miami Open – by far the biggest title of her career.

With her first WTA 1000 title, Collins is the lowest-ranked Miami Open winner at number 53. The 30-year-old is also the second oldest first-time Miami Open winner, behind only last year’s winner Petra Kvitova. After starting the year at No. 71, Collins, a former No. 7, will return to the top 30 at No. 22.

Despite the significant gap in their rankings and their experience in the biggest tournaments, based on their form and the quality of tennis they had shown, Collins clearly reached the final with a huge chance. While Rybakina endured four tough three-set battles in her five matches and was still searching for her best form, Collins was completely devastating. After losing the very first set of the tournament to Bernarda Pera, she advanced to the final without conceding more than five games in another match.

There was little to separate the pair at the start of the final, with Rybakina usually dominating behind her enormous first serve. But Collins’ explosive, relentless ball striking, particularly with her incredible two-handed backhand, allowed her to take control of the neutral rallies and often overwhelm Rybakina, a feeling the Kazakh is not used to.

Danielle Collins, who was in exceptional form in Miami, beat Elena Rybakina in the final. Photo: Robert Prange/Getty Images

With the score at 5-5, after both players held firm in their service games, Collins hit a stunning backhand winner down the line as he faced a break point. Then she started hitting the ball with increasing freedom and after holding serve, she showed a dominant return game, breaking serve and taking the set.

In the second set, Collins was rewarded for her greater willingness to take control of the baseline and run the game her way, even as Rybakina repeatedly threatened to turn the game around. After an agonizing final game with four match points, Collins finally secured the biggest win of her career.

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Despite having a difficult 2023, Collins’ reasons for stepping down had little to do with her level on the court and she insisted the results will have no bearing on her decision. In recent years, she has had numerous health problems, including rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease, and endometriosis, an extremely painful condition in which tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside the uterus. It is thanks to the American’s mental strength and talent that she has been able to continue to compete at the highest level.

During her time as a professional tennis player, which was preceded by an incredibly successful college career, Collins was always a strong presence on the tour. She is extremely confident and does things her own way. Her shooting technique is absolutely devastating in full swing, particularly her confident two-handed backhand and the fire she plays with – characterized by her sustained fight and her infamous “Come on!” roar. –are unforgettable. Now in her final season, she has produced an outstanding performance worthy of her abilities.

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