MELBOURNE, Australia -- Ashleigh Barty ended a 44-year drought Saturday by becoming the first Australian to win an Australian Open singles title since 1978.
The world No. 1 and crowd favourite capped off a dominant fortnight at Melbourne Park, overcoming American 27th seed Danielle Collins 6-3, 7-6(2) on Rod Laver Arena, to clinch her home Slam without dropping a single set.
After wrapping up a comfortable first set in just 32 minutes, Barty found herself in a 1-5 hole when Collins began to apply her trademark aggression and fierce backhand groundstrokes at the beginning of the second frame. But Barty was able to rally and reel off four consecutive games to quickly draw level at 5-5 and heap the pressure back on her 28-year-old opponent.
The set would eventually require a tie-breaker and Barty displayed nerves of steel to win seven of nine points, letting out a roar of excitement after striking her 14th forehand winner on championship point.
Chris O'Neil, the last Australian to win a singles title at the Australian Open, delivered the Daphne Akhurst Trophy to Rod Laver Arena before the match. But it was mentor and fellow Australian tennis great Evonne Goolagong Cawley, who won the tournament four consecutive times between 1974-77, who presented it to Barty after her triumph.
"I've said numerous times I'm so lucky tonight to have numerous people here that love and support me," Barty said. "I'm a fortunate and lucky girl to have so much love in my corner, we started together right from the start. We did it all together, nobody has changed from our team. I love you to death.
"As an Aussie, the most important part of this tournament is being able to share it with so many people and the crowd, you have been nothing short of exceptional.
"This crowd is one of the most fun I've ever played in front of and you guys brought me so much joy today and helped me play my best tennis, so thanks for all your love and support over the last couple of weeks. This is a dream come true for me and I am so proud to be an Aussie."
Barty, 25, has now won three of the four major trophies and is a perfect 3-0 in Slam finals.
Her maiden Grand Slam title came at the French Open in 2019 where she defeated Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets. Last year Barty added Wimbledon to her resume with victory over two-time tournament champion Karolina Pliskova.
Barty joins Serena Williams as the only active women's player to have won at least three different majors and the season-ending WTA Finals.
Barty will also pocket AU$2,875,000 (US$2,009,000) for winning the tournament.
It was a phenomenal fortnight for Barty who won 14 consecutive sets en route to the title, only dropping four games in a set on two occasions. Her 30 games conceeded in a run to an Australian Open title is the fewest since Steffi Graff, 33 years ago.