Australian Open 2022 Women's Final: TV Schedule, Start Time and Live StreamJanuary 27, 2022
Ashleigh Barty is on the brink of history at the 2022 Australian Open. After defeating unseeded American Madison Keys 6-1, 6-3 in Thursday's semifinal, she is now one win away from becoming the first Australia-born player to win the Aussie Open since Chris O'Neil beat Betsy Nagelsen in 1978.
Standing in the world No. 1's way is another American in Danielle Collins, who beat Poland's Iga Swiatek 6-4, 6-1 in the second semifinal on Thursday. Collins, the tournament's No. 27 seed, is playing in her first ever Grand Slam final.
Will Barty become the champion Australians have waited decades for? Or will Collins spoil the party and win her first major title? Here's what you need to know to catch the women's singles final.
2022 Australian Open Women's Singles Final
When: Saturday, Jan. 29 at 3:30 a.m. ET
Where: Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne, Australia
Live stream: ESPN+
Barty's Road to the Final
Navigating a Grand Slam tournament is a tough task, but Barty is making it look all to easy in Melbourne.
The 25-year-old hasn't dropped a set through six rounds and has only lost 21 games total. Her serve has been broken once. Just about all of her matches have clocked in at around an hour. She's simply breezing through the competition.
Her toughest opponent to this point was 20-year-old Amanda Anisimova in the fourth round, but Barty beat her 6-4, 6-3.
Many thought Keys, back in form and boasting a sizzling serve, might give the two-time Grand Slam champion some trouble in the semifinal, but that didn't pan out at all.
Barty's backhand slice kept the 26-year-old on the defensive, and her cross-court forehands were unhittable at times. The serve wasn't too shabby, either, with the Aussie notching five aces to Keys' one.
"I love this tournament, I love coming out here and playing in Australia, As an Aussie, we're exceptionally spoiled that we're a Grand Slam nation, we get to play in our backyard, and I'm just happy that I get to play my best tennis here," Barty said in her on-court interview.
While hoisting the trophy is the ultimate goal, the Queenslander has already made some history by reaching the final. The last Australian-born player to reach a singles final was Lleyton Hewitt on the men's side in 2005, and the last woman to do it was Wendy Turnbull in 1980.
There will be immense pressure on Barty on Saturday, just as there has been all tournament. So far, she seems to be immune to it.
It should also be noted that Barty has already triumphed on clay and grass, having won the 2019 French Open and Wimbledon last year. The hard court of Rod Laver Arena is just another type of canvas for her to create a masterpiece upon.
Collins' Road to the Final
Collins is something of a surprise entrant in this year's final.
The 28-year-old hadn't been much of a threat at Grand Slams to this point in her career. Prior to this run, her previous best in a major tournament was a quarterfinal appearance at Wimbledon in 2019.
Collins also faced health challenges last year, including emergency surgery for endometriosis in April. She said the condition left her in immense pain at times, but now she feels she can play at her best.
"It finally got to the point where I couldn't deal any longer with it physically or mentally. Once I was able to get the proper diagnosis and the surgery, I feel like it's helped me so much—not just from a physical standpoint but from a mental standpoint," she said, per Sky Sports' Raz Mizra.
Free from the pain, Collins has turned out to be a force to be reckoned with in Melbourne. She's shown an ability to battle from behind after dropping her first set to Clara Tauson in the third round and Elise Mertens in the fourth round.
After scoring the upset against Mertens, the No. 19 seed, the Florida native seems to have raised her game. She beat Alize Cornet in straight sets in the quarterfinal, setting her up to play No. 7 Swiatek in the semis.
Collins jumped out to a 4-0 lead against the Pole but then wavered a bit before serving out to win the first set 6-4.
In the second set, it was one-way action, with the American simply overpowering her opponent at times. She only lost four service points in the second set and notched three of her seven aces. Her return game was excellent. It was a significant upset on paper, but Collins looked like she expected the result.
Ben Rothenberg @BenRothenberg
Playing some of her best ever on this massive stage, Danielle Collins routs #7 Swiatek 6-4, 6-1 with some nearly untouchable first-strike tennis. 13 winners against just two unforced errors for Collins in the second set. Collins into the #AusOpen final, vs #1 Barty on Saturday.
Headed for a top-10 WTA ranking, Collins will now look to put the finishing touches on an incredible run by stunning Barty.
Barty has beaten three Americans in a row in Melbourne: Anisimova, Jessica Pegula and Keys. Can she send a fourth packing and make history? It may seem inevitable, but an upset is a distinct possibility here.
Collins is 1-3 all-time against Barty, but she won the most recent matchup at the Adelaide International in February 2021. That straight-sets victory 11 months ago can serve as inspiration to the American, who figures to be a massive underdog in Saturday's final.
Of course, inspiration and confidence alone won't get it done against a player in such imperious form. Collins will have to play the game of her life, and even that may not be enough.
Barty has simply been on another level in Melbourne. Her serves are pinpoint, her shotmaking is incredible and she appears as focused as she's ever been. If she does hit a rough patch, the crowd will be there to lift her up.
Look for Barty to fulfill her country's dreams and capture her third Grand Slam title on Saturday.