Advance to AO quarterfinal
Ashley Marshall | January 20, 2019
There were coming of age parties, both figuratively and literally, on an upset-filled Day 7 of the Australian Open on Sunday.
Danielle Collins dismantled world No. 2 and three-time Grand Slam champion Angelique Kerber while Frances Tiafoe celebrated his 21st birthday in style with an upset victory over No. 20 seed and former world No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov.
Collins (pictured above) turned in the most impressive performance of her career inside Margaret Court Arena, needing just 56 minutes to stun the 2016 Australian Open champion, 6-0, 6-2.
Collins out-hit the German from the baseline at will, recording 29 winners to Kerber’s six, imposing her authority with a rock-solid ground game while mixing in dropshots effectively to keep her opponent frustrated and off balance.
Kerber, who also won the US Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2018, never found a foothold in the match against the University of Virginia product, a two-time NCAA singles champion, who came into Melbourne having never won a Grand Slam match in her career.
Collins will now play Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the quarterfinal after the unseeded Russian defeated 2017 US Open champion and No.
5 seed Sloane Stephens, 6-7, 6-3, 6-3, in a rollercoaster inside Rod Laver Arena to cap off the evening session at Melbourne Park.
“It's been an incredible experience,” world No. 35 Collins said. “I'm so grateful to be here in Melbourne. I definitely played some tournaments in some strange places the first year that I turned pro. I'm really just grateful to be out here doing what I love and playing in front of a good crowd.
“I played her last year, so I was familiar with her game. I had a clear mindset of what I was going to do. From the very first point, I showed her that I wasn't going to let her into the match, that I was going to dictate the entire way through. I stuck to my game plan. It clearly worked out well for me. Pretty much smooth sailing throughout the entire thing. I was just feeling really great.”
Joining Collins in the quarterfinals is Tiafoe, who outlasted Dimitrov, 7-5, 7-6, 6-7, 7-5, in a three-hour, 39-minute showdown inside Melbourne Arena.
Tiafoe hit 63 winners to 54 miscues, saving 15 break points while capitalizing on five of 13 break points he crafted on the Bulgarian’s serve.
The 21-year-old Maryland native took the opening set behind two breaks of serve, and he doubled his advantage through a second-set tiebreak in which he saved three Dimitrov set points in winning the final five points of the breaker.
Dimitrov rallied from a break down in the third set to force a decider as Tiafoe called for the trainer multiple times. But it was the young American who gave himself a birthday present to remember by breaking Dimitrov at 5-5 before serving out the match at his first opportunity.
“I mean, yeah, it's crazy, man. Obviously if you guys know anything about me, the story in tennis, I obviously wasn't a normal tennis story,” said Tiafoe, referencing his upbringing in Maryland where he started playing at the tennis facility at which his father was the custodian. “The beginning of my career, I was playing for them, trying to do everything for my family. Obviously now I put them in a great place. Now I'm trying to do it for me.”
Tiafoe, into the final eight of a major for the first time in his career, will play No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal in a popcorn quarterfinal match on Tuesday for the chance to play wither No. 14 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or No. 22 Roberto Bautista Agut in the semifinals.
“I'm so excited to play Rafa. We're going to have some fun, going to have some long rallies,” Tiafoe said. “I hope I can play on Laver. That would be cool. I guess all the matches are on Laver now, right?”
Tiafoe becomes the first American since Andy Roddick in 2010 to make the final eight in Melbourne.
Elsewhere on Day 7, Amanda Anisimova, who this week became the first player born in 2000 to reach the fourth round of a major, fell to two-time Wimbledon champion and No. 8 seed Petra Kvitova, 6-2, 6-1.