“Her destiny is fulfilled” were the words echoing around Melbourne Park as Barty wiped out her final opponent to win the first Australian Open women’s singles title by an Australian after a 44-year drought.
The 2022 final’s seemed by far the hardest fought and sweetest victory of all in the whole tournament for tennis legend Ash Barty.
She was in total control of all her previous games before the final. There she also won the first set against the American Collins. But when Collins raced to a 5-1 lead in the second set, it looked like Barty had no chance of winning; but Barty had different ideas.
It required a superb player, like Barty, to dig herself out from such a deep hole. Yet she came back from 5-1 down in the set to equalise, forcing a tie break. She then cruised through it to win the Australian Open.
So it is not only that Barty has been number one in women’s singles in the world for nearly two years, she now has a trifecta of Grand Slam victories to her name too. The French Open was the first, followed by her Wimbledon victory, now the Australian Open.
Through her triumph at Wimbledon last year Barty was able to fulfil her childhood dream to match Aunty Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s precedence 50 years earlier and claim the English crown.
Barty dedicated her Wimbledon victory to her mentor and friend Evonne Goolagong, from one proud First Nations woman to another.
In an extra-sweet twist to an already sweet occasion, Goolagong returned Barty’s compliment in person, when to Barty’s surprise, Goolagong Cawley was selected to present Barty with her Australian Open trophy.
At the Australian Open, Barty was exposed to three great pressures: being the world number one, a dual grand slam champion, and playing in front of her home audience expecting her to break the 44 years drought in winning the Australian Open by an Aussie.
Add to this that even though of their three previous encounters, she beat her final opponent Collins twice – a year ago it was Collins who beat her decisively.
Until the final, in all her games Barty was able to put her opponents off their step. That is how the final started too. In her first-won set against Collins, Barty stopped her opponent from being able to play her aggressive game and made Collins feel noticeably uncomfortable. This all started to change in the second set when Collins regained control of her game and at 5-1 lead, she looked unstoppable. Barty fans were nervous.
This posed Barty the greatest test of her resilience in the tournament, and she passed it with flying colours. She proved what an extraordinary champion she is by her hard-fought success in regaining control of the match and then winning it decisively.
Barty’s brilliant victory was followed by another Australian Open first: the men’s doubles final between two Australian teams. Kokkinakis repeated his outstanding serve consistency, which he displayed at his victorious Adelaide International performance just before the Australian Open. And his doubles partner Kyrgios managed to stay at his best behaviour throughout the final.
In their Aussie opponents, the Special Ks found a formidable team of classical doubles players – Max Purcell and Matt Ebden. It was to the special Ks credit that they were able to beat them decisively.
The task of serving out the match to win the championship fell on Kyrgios’s shoulders. He did not falter and the special Ks won the Australian Open men’s Doubles Championship title in two sets. Critics eat your hearts out!
Although many thought that the Special Ks were not worthy of the status of the legendary Woodies, they still became the first ones now to win the Australian Open Doubles Champion title after the Woodies won it last in 1997.
And it was no one else but the two Woodies who presented the championship trophy to the Special Ks.
The most beautiful thing about the Special Ks’ brilliant victory was the tremendous warmth of their friendship.
With a close mate like Kokkinakis, maybe even Kyrgios has a chance for eventually overcoming his tendency to spit the dummy when things do not go his way.
The level-headed, solid groundedness of Kokkinakis and Kyrgios’s extraordinary tennis creativity make for a powerful doubles combination.
It might have even contributed to bringing the two Woodies together for the trophy presentation after years of distance between the two, following their split as the world’s most successful tennis doubles players.
Beyond their great victories, both Barty and The Special K’s emphasised the importance to them that they take away from the occasion a further cementing of friendships and sweet memories of shared celebrations with their fellow Aussies.