MELBOURNE, Australia — The way Danielle Collins looks at it, the end of her surprising run at Melbourne Park was something of an open-and-shut case.
The 25-year-old American was every bit Petra Kvitova’s equal during their Australian Open semifinal during the time Rod Laver Arena’s retractable roof was open – and she never really had a chance once it was shut as the temperature approached 105 degrees (40 Celsius) on Thursday.
The match was even at 4-all after 35 minutes, when the tournament’s extreme heat policy was invoked, and the cover was closed to block out the scorching sun. Collins did not appreciate that switch and wound up losing 7-6 (2), 6-0 to two-time major champion Kvitova.
“They need to start the match the way it’s going to finish, I think,” Collins said. “I think they do that in football, and I think it certainly changed a little bit of the rhythm in the match.”
There’s no doubt that Kvitova’s level of play rose substantially once it became an indoor contest.
She has made clear over the years that she does not love playing in high heat and humidity.
As for Collins?
“Honestly, I like playing in the heat. Don’t get me wrong, it certainly has its challenges,” said the 35th-ranked Collins, who won two NCAA titles at the University of Virginia.
“I grew up in Florida and am used to it being really hot all the time. So I kind of embrace that very well. Indoor tennis is a different game. Certainly had its effect.”
She also had her issues with chair umpire Carlos Ramos, who called three code violations on Serena Williams and docked her a game during the U.S. Open final last September.
In the tiebreaker, then early in the second set, Collins went back-and-forth with Ramos, complaining about his procedural rulings. The exchanges did not help Collins and seemed to distract her as she let Kvitova seize control of the match.
It was an abrupt ending to quite a debut performance by Collins at the Australian Open.
She arrived at the tournament with an 0-5 record in Grand Slam matches and a losing mark of 17-22 overall on tour. But Collins managed to beat No. 2-seeded Angelique Kerber – who owns three major titles – along with No. 14 Julie Goerges and No. 19 Carolina Garcia.
“There is a lot of great things to build off of, and I think I had a really great learning experience throughout the entire tournament, and especially today,” Collins said. “I’m really excited for my success to be recognized, and to continue playing on the biggest stage and against the biggest and best opponents in the world.”