Danielle Collins has shocked tennis by announcing she will retire from the sport this year, making her decision public just moments after a gut-wrenching collapse at the Australian Open.
The 30-year-old American was a double service break up in the deciding set against world No.1 Iga Swiatek but lost her nerve and subsequently the second-round match.
WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE: Collins departs Australian Open for the last time.
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Collins looked greatly disappointed to have missed out on a monumental win but soon shared that losses “at the end of my career … don’t quite sting quite as much”.
Asked to clarify what she meant by that comment, the 2022 Australian Open runner-up made one of the more low-key retirement announcements in recent memory.
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“Yeah, this is going to be my last season, actually, competing,” Collins said.
“I don’t really know exactly when (I’ll finish) but this will be my last season and I’m really looking forward to that.”
Her greatest achievement arrived in 2022 when she made it to the Australian Open final but was beaten by home hero Ash Barty — and she will soon follow in Barty’s footsteps by retiring to focus on starting a family.
Collins watches on with the runner-up trophy after being beaten by Barty in the 2022 final. Credit: Andy Brownbill/AP
Collins burst onto the scene when she reached the 2019 Australian Open semi-finals and went on to make the quarters at the 2020 French Open.
“I feel like I’ve had a pretty good career,” Collins said.
“There have certainly been ups and downs to it, and I think the travel and some of the things away from the court with scheduling and all of that, this is a really tough sport.
“I have other things that I’d kind of like to accomplish in my life outside of tennis, and would like to be able to have the time to be able to do that.
“Obviously having kids is a big priority for me.”
The retirement news was wholly unexpected from a sporting perspective given Collins had made Swiatek feel like she was “at the airport already” before the world No.1’s great escape to win 6-4 3-6 6-3.
“But I wanted to fight till the end. I knew that she played just perfectly, but it would be hard for anybody to keep that level,” Swiatek said.
“So I wanted to be ready when more mistakes are going to come from the other side.
“And I just wanted to push her and I did that at the end and I’m really proud of myself because it wasn’t easy.”
Swiatek felt defeated before managing to come from behind against Collins. Credit: JAMES ROSS/AAPIMAGE
A heavy shower midway through the opening set forced officials to complete the match indoors.
Fans could not have expected when play was briefly stopped at 3-3 what a rollercoaster, three-hour-plus encounter they would witness upon the match’s resumption.
After winning three of the next four games to wrap up the first set, Swiatek quickly found herself trailing 5-1 and 40-15 in the second.
She managed to fend off five set points before Collins finally levelled the match after some two and a quarter hours.
Swiatek, who lost to Collins in the semi-finals two years ago before Barty stopped the feisty American in the title match, was staring down the barrel again after falling behind 4-1 in the deciding set.
Swiatek’s hunt for her first Australian Open title — and fifth grand slam title overall — continues against Czech world No.50 Linda Noskova in the third round.
Elsewhere on Thursday, world No.51 Clara Burel caused a major second-round upset when she eliminated fifth seed Jessica Pegula in straight sets.
Pegula, a quarter-finalist in Melbourne in each of the past three years, committed 31 unforced errors to just nine winners and was well off on serve.
Burel, 22, has now reached the third round at the Australian, French and US Opens.
– with AAP