AO 2022 Day 11: Barty and Collins prove class

A host of champions and legends sparkled on a first-class Thursday at the Australian Open as the women’s final was locked in.

Ash Barty Australian Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT
 - Alex Sharp

Four went down to two after dazzling displays in the Australian Open 2022 women’s singles semi-finals.

Across Day 11 champions were crowned and there was an emotional goodbye to a local legend.

Here are the key headlines from a thrilling Thursday at Melbourne Park…

Barty party is turning into a rave

World No.1 Ash Barty put in another stellar performance to become the first Australian woman to advance to the women’s singles final since Wendy Turnbull in 1980.

12 sets out of 12, just six hours on court, Barty is making her tennis an art form. The two-time major winner chalked up a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Madison Keys to keep the home crowd dreaming. 

“It’s unreal, incredible, to be in the finals weekend of your home Grand Slam is what a lot of Aussie players dream of," said the top seed, intent on embracing the occasion. 

“You have to. It's fun. It's brilliant to be playing in the business end of your home slam. 

“Saturday's going to be a new experience for me. So I go out there and embrace it, smile, try and do the best that I can and whatever happens, happens.”

Barty has split two thrilling Adelaide International duels with final opponent Danielle Collins in 2020-21. Game on.

“She's an exceptional ball striker. She's someone who stands on the baseline and can hit all spots of the court from any position. I think the challenge is going to be trying to get her off-balance,” suggested Barty.

“She's one of the most fierce competitors out here. She loves to get in your face and loves to really take it on. We'll do our homework, try and figure out a plan and come Saturday try and execute.”

Danielle Collins Australian Open 2022©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

‘Danimal’ dismisses Swiatek

Next week Danielle Collins will crack the Top 10 for the first time as a Grand Slam finalist.

The American was officially “in the zone,” to be relentless on return and cannonballing 27 winners past 2020 Roland-Garros champion Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-1 to earn a maiden major silverware showdown.

"I was prepared for her playing aggressive game, but I think that was the fastest ball I have ever played against on a match,” stated Swiatek, summarising the brutal brilliance of Collins on Rod Laver Arena. 

“Feels amazing. It's been such a journey and it doesn't happen overnight. It's so many years of hard work and hours in an early age on court,”” added Collins, assessing the final match-up with Barty. 

“Even the matches that I have lost have been some of my most memorable moments on court because of the way we were battling and going back and forth.

“Something I really admire about Ash's game is her variety, playing a different game style than pretty much all of the players on tour. There is not too many that use the slice backhand the way that she does, have the big serve the way that she does.

“I think when I go out against her, we're going to have another battle hopefully and put on a good show for everyone.”

Inspirational Alcott bows out

One of the most gregarious and infectious characters out there has played his final professional match.

2022 Australian of the Year Dylan Alcott pulled down the curtain on a trophy laden career which has seen him win 15 quad wheelchair singles Grand Slams, eight quad doubles majors, Paralympics gold and last season he became the first man to complete the Calendar Golden Slam.

Legend is an overused word – not here.

Sam Schroder claimed his second quad singles Grand Slam with an impressive 7-5, 6-0 showing against the seven-time champion. 

 “You’ve done a great job inspiring the world,” Schroder told Alcott during the trophy presentation. “I hope to one day to be able to do just one small part of that as well.”

31-year-old Alcott had his final say on Rod Laver Arena.

“I’m really the luckiest guy in the world and I didn’t need to win today to realise that,” added the Australian hero.

“It would have been nice to win, to be honest. But I’m still the luckiest person I’ve ever met. I’m the luckiest guy in this country, if not the world, to live the life that I live.”

Japanese veteran Shingo Kunieda won his 11th men’s wheelchair singles title, defeating Brit Alfie Hewett 7-5, 3-6, 6-2. In the women’s final, Diede de Groot won her sixth consecutive singles Grand Slam, proving too strong 6-1, 6-1 over fellow Dutchwoman Aniek Van Koot. 

Kyrgios and Kokkinakis book final show 

‘Special K’? The ‘K Train’? Whatever the nickname, Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios keep on rock n’ rolling through the men’s doubles draw at Melbourne Park.

The home duo whipped up the raucous crowd once again for a tense 7-6(4), 6-4 triumph over Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos to book a final ticket. 

“I’ve played a lot of singles matches around the globe, but this week with Thanasi in front of these crowds, nothing beats this,” insisted Kyrgios.

They advance to take on compatriots Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell in the first all-Australian men’s doubles final at the Australian Open since 1980.

Krejcikova and Siniakova still on course 

Reigning Roland-Garros champions Barbora Krejcikova and Ekaterina Siniakova moved one match away from a maiden triumph at Melbourne Park.

The women’s doubles favourites dominated third seeds Veronika Kudermetova and Elise Mertens 6-2, 6-3 to book a final with Brazilian-Kazakh pairing of Beatriz Haddad Maia and Anna Danilina on Sunday.