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Collins stuns Rybakina in Miami final
Published on: Monday, April 01, 2024
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Collins stuns Rybakina in Miami final
MIAMI: American Danielle Collins (pic) upset the odds to win the Miami Open title on Saturday, beating Elena Rybakina of Kazakhstan 7-5, 6-3 to claim her first WTA 1000 title in her final season on the tour.

The 30-year-old Collins, number 53 in the world, is the lowest-ranked woman ever to win the tournament, clinching her biggest career title in a two-hour triumph.

Collins announced in January that she will be retiring from the sport at the end of this year and her unexpected run to the final and victory over the world number four delighted the home crowd.

“I couldn’t think of a better way to win my first 1000 title. It means the world to me,” Collins said before being presented with the trophy.

While she has given no indication that her recent run of form might lead her to reconsider her departure from the sport, she will rise to 22 in Monday’s new WTA rankings.

It was a disappointing second straight loss in a Miami final for Rybakina, who missed out to Petra Kvitova last year.

Both players looked strong on their serve in the early exchanges but Floridan Collins had to work hardest to hold her serve.

She saved four break points as she hung on for 4-3 and showed resistance again to deny a break point at 5-5 with a brilliant backhand winner after a long rally.

Collins broke at the end of the first set, capitalizing on a third break point to win the set when Rybakina went long.

Then the momentum shifted heavily in Collins’s direction when she broke Rybakina’s first service game of the second set.

The 24-year-old Rybakina, the 2022 Wimbledon champion, responded, breaking back at the first opportunity.

Neither player was able to truly dominate, but Collins struck the decisive blow when she broke to go 5-3 up as Rybakina at full stretch on the baseline went long.

Collins showed nerves at the end as she struggled to serve out, denying two break points and finally clinching on the fourth championship point of the match.

“It’s hard,” Collins said. “You’ve got the crowd supporting you and pushing you to close it out and they wanted me to win so bad. It was like playing in front of my best friends and I didn’t want to let the crowd down and it was tough.

“Elena does not give up and she just kept slinging those shots right and left, I just had to hang in there.”

She becomes the first American woman to take home the Miami Open title since Sloane Stephens in 2018 and the sixth overall, also joining Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, three-time champion Venus Williams and eight-time champion Serena Williams.

The previous lowest-ranked women’s champion was Kim Clijsters, who was ranked 38th when she won the title in 2005.

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