Saturday, January 19, 2019

Collins crushes Kerber; Federer, Stephens fall

Danielle Collins, playing at Indian Wells last March, demolished second-seeded
Angelique Kerber 6-0, 6-2 today in the fourth round of the Australian Open.
Photo by Mal Taam
   Danielle Collins didn't just beat Angelique Kerber.
   She crushed her.
   Collins, a 25-year-old American, dismissed the second-seeded Kerber 6-0, 6-2 in 56 minutes today in the Australian Open in Melbourne to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal.
   Collins overwhelmed Kerber, who won the 2015 Bank of the West Classic at Stanford and 2016 Australian Open for the first of her three major singles titles, with blistering groundstrokes.
   Collins slugged 29 winners to Kerber's six. Both players committed 17 unforced errors.
   "I had a solid warmup, and I was feeling great," Collins, from Tampa, Fla., said in an on-court interview. "My coaches gave me a great game plan, and I executed it well.
   "They said, 'You're physically stronger than her, and you can rally with her. It's up to you.' I was feeling my shots today, so I decided to put the pedal to the metal and put pressure on her."
   Collins, a two-time NCAA singles champion from the University of Virginia, had never won a main-draw match in a Grand Slam tournament until this week. She reached the semifinals in last year's inaugural Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose and the quarterfinals in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger.
   Collins will take on resurgent Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia. The unseeded Pavlyuchenkova, who played for the Sacramento Capitals of World TeamTennis in 2006 at 15, beat fifth-seeded Sloane Stephens, a 25-year-old Fresno product, 6-7 (3), 6-3, 6-3.
   Another former Australian Open champion, Maria Sharapova, also lost. Ashleigh Barty, seeded 15th, eliminated Sharapova, the 30th seed and 2008 titlist, 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 to become the first Australian to reach the quarters in Melbourne since Jelena Dokic in 2009.
   Sharapova was coming off a three-set victory over defending champion Caroline Wozniacki.
   Barty will play Petra Kvitova, a two-time Wimbledon champion who breezed past 17-year-old American Amanda Anisimova 6-2, 6-1 in 59 minutes. Anisimova won her first professional title in the 2017 Sacramento Challenger at 15.
   On the men's side, 14th-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas, 20, ousted third seed and two-time defending champion Roger Federer 6-7 (11), 7-6 (3), 7-5, 7-6 (5) to become the first Greek to reach the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam tournament. Tsitsipas saved four set points in the second set.
   Federer, who has won a record 20 Grand Slam singles titles, failed to reach the quarterfinals for the second consecutive Slam and the semifinals for the fourth major in a row.
   Unseeded American Frances Tiafoe, playing on his 21st birthday, beat 20th seed and friend Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria 7-5, 7-6 (6), 6-7 (1), 7-5 to gain his first major quarterfinal.
   Tiafoe, the son of immigrants from Sierra Leone, celebrated by taking off his shirt, slapping his right biceps again, getting down on his knees, lowering his head and slapping the court. He had to compose himself before speaking in an on-court interview.
   "I told my parents 10 years ago that I was going to be a pro to change their lives and my life," said Tiafoe, who will earn at least $330,000 (U.S.). "Now I'm in the quarters of a Slam. It's unbelievable."
   Tiafoe, who won the $100,000 Stockton (Calif.) Challenger in 2016 and ousted fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson in the second round of the Australian Open, will take on Rafael Nadal, the second seed and 2009 Australian Open champion who outclassed unseeded Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-1, 7-6 (4).
   In doubles, fourth-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan and ninth-seeded Raquel Atawo and Katarina Srebotnik advanced to the men's and women's quarterfinals, respectively.
   The 40-year-old Bryans (Stanford, 1997-98) defeated Spaniards Pablo Carreno Busta and Guillermo Garcia Lopez 6-3, 7-6 (4).
   Atawo (Cal, 2001-04), a 36-year-old Sacramento resident, and Srebotnik, a 37-year-old Slovenian, topped Romanians Irina Bara and Monica Niculescu 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

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