Barty survives titanic battle to grab final berth
WORLD No.1 Ash Barty survived a passionate and brave fight from American Danielle Collins to triumph in an enthralling three-set Adelaide International semi-final confrontation at Memorial Drive on Friday.
For the second time in her three Adelaide matches, Barty had to show all her talent and fighting spirit after falling a set down to triumph 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-5).
The victory earned her a final commitment against Ukraine's Dayana Yastremska, who accounted for Aryna Sabalenka in the other semi-final.
"It was tough, but fun," Barty said.
"Brisbane was tough, but I'm getting better and better each match.
"I've seen Dayana play and she is an exceptional ball-striker."
If Collins, diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis in October, was concerned about confronting the top seed in front of a parochial crowd, it did not show in the opening minutes.
Collins held her opening serve to love, then immediately broke Barty's serve to have the Australian champion on the back foot.
Barty appeared tentative and the more nervous of the pair, and within minutes she was 0-3 down and had her back to the wall against the on-song American.
The Queenslander had her opportunity to break back in the seventh game when she led 40-0, only for Collins to go to work with her first serve to rattle off the next five points.
Collins was also challenged on her next service game, but again she denied Barty to secure the opening set with a barrage of crisp shot-making.
Remarkably, Collins made five more unforced errors in the first set, probably evidence of her more aggressive approach.
Needing a response, Barty won her opening service game and then gained the much-needed break. It was just the second service break for Collins in this tournament.
There seemed more purpose in Barty's game, and more confidence with her movement around court. That was no more evident than the fourth game when she retrieved a 15-40 deficit to grab successive breaks of serve.
The unforced errors continued to flow for Collins, a contributing factor in her dropping the second set to push the intriguing battle into a deciding set.
The drama stretched into the third set when Collins, leading 2-1, summoned the physio to the court. Play was delayed while the Florida resident, visibly upset, received treatment to her back.
That was not to be the end of her fight. She returned to the action, refusing to allow the back issue derail her bid for a major scalp.
Barty was prepared for the scrap, however, and she gained the advantage with a break of serve. Again, the physio was required for Collins, albeit briefly.
Only Collins knew her physical pain, but her courage was on show for all as she immediately broke back to have the third set on an even keel.
Even when Barty had two match points in the tie-breaker, there was no respite from the desperate commitment from Collins.