USA’s Danielle Collins reflects on long journey to Australian Open final

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<span>Photograph: TPN/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: TPN/Getty Images
  • 28-year-old will play Ash Barty for Melbourne title on Saturday

  • Floridian has overcome debilitating pain from endometriosis

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Danielle Collins has reflected on the long journey she has taken to reach her first grand slam final at the age of 28.

The American beat Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-1 at the Australian Open on Thursday to set up a final with home favourite and world No 1 Ash Barty.

“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 practise with me before school,” she said.

Related: Quickfire Barty turns Keys inside out to reach first Australian Open final

Collins has a 1-3 career record against Barty but won their most recent meeting at the 2021 Adelaide International. “We’ve had some incredible battles over the years. To play the world number one in her home country will be spectacular,” she said.

Collins has enjoyed success in Melbourne before, reaching the Australian Open semi-final in 2019. However, she believes she is now a more complete player. “I have added more variety to my game over the last couple of years but this is my Plan A. It was working for me really well today so I just had to stick with it,” she said.

The world No 30 has links with Australia: the former Australian rules footballer Tom Couch is her trainer and boyfriend. However, she acknowledged the crowd at Saturday’s final will firmly be in Barty’s camp. “The energy the crowd will bring, whether it’s for me or against me, it will be incredible. I look forward to a great match,” she said.

The Floridian has fought health problems to get to this stage. In April she underwent emergency surgery for endometriosis. “It is incredible to be on this stage, especially after all the health challenges. I couldn’t be happier,” she said.

Endometriosis, a chronic inflammatory condition that affects one in 10 women globally, can cause debilitating pain. In August, Collins spoke about the toll the condition took on her career.

“Had I not had the surgery, I just couldn’t keep living my life like that. The agony that I experienced from my menstrual cycles and from the endometriosis is some of the worst pain I’ve ever had,” she said.

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