Tennis: Unseeded Collins upsets Kerber in day of shocks

MELBOURNE • World No. 2 Angelique Kerber had been the bookmakers' favourite alongside Serena Williams for the Australian Open women's crown, but no one told Danielle Collins of the odds stacked against her.

The unseeded American, who graduated from the University of Virginia in 2016 as the US' top-ranked college player, paid no heed to rankings, reputation and punters as she humiliated the Wimbledon champion 6-0, 6-2 yesterday.

The 35th-ranked Collins had never savoured a Grand Slam match victory before this year but, after reaching the last eight in her maiden appearance at Melbourne Park, fired a warning to the rest of the contenders that "it's (the wins) going to keep happening".

She told reporters: "I may not have won a Grand Slam match before this but I tell you... I better have many more of these. I just go out fearless, just give it my all."

The 25-year-old's reward for her dominance, peppering the Margaret Court Arena with 29 winners, is a quarter-final tomorrow with Russia's Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who upset fifth seed Sloane Stephens 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-3.

Not many would also have bet on unseeded compatriot Frances Tiafoe making it to the last eight in the men's draw but, like Collins, he made it a day to remember.

After upsetting world No. 21 Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 7-5, 7-6 (8-6), 6-7 (1-7), 7-5 to celebrate turning 21, Tiafoe broke down as he revealed how he had supported his mother and father, who are both immigrants from Sierra Leone.

Danielle Collins of the United States sees her confidence soaring after she humiliated world No. 2 and Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-0, 6-2 at Melbourne Park yesterday.
Danielle Collins of the United States sees her confidence soaring after she humiliated world No. 2 and Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber of Germany 6-0, 6-2 at Melbourne Park yesterday. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

"It means the world," said Tiafoe. "I told my parents 10 years ago I was going to be a pro tennis player and change their lives."

Recalling his unusual path to a Grand Slam quarter-final stage for the first time in his fledgling career, he added: "Obviously, I wasn't a normal tennis story. I bought a house in Maryland for my mum. My dad is in an apartment in Orlando. That was big, just put us in better situations. Now, I'm trying to do it for me."

His giant-killing feats - he eliminated sixth-ranked Kevin Anderson of South Africa in the second round - have also made world No. 2 Rafa Nadal sit up and take notice.

Tiafoe will be his opponent - for the first time - tomorrow and the Spaniard, who dismissed Czech Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), admitted he was "a very dynamic player, aggressive and dangerous".

On a day of shocks, Ashleigh Barty also stunned Russia's Maria Sharapova 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 to become the first hometown hope in a decade to reach the Australian Open quarter-finals.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 21, 2019, with the headline 'Unseeded Collins upsets Kerber in day of shocks'. Print Edition | Subscribe