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Kvitova vs Collins Australian Open live streaming, preview and tips - Kvitova targets first major final since 2014 against surprise semi-finalist Collins

Andrew Hendrie in WTA Tour 23 Jan 2019
  • Petra Kvitova vs Danielle Collins is live from Melbourne Park on Thursday at 2.00pm local time (3.00am GMT)
  • They clashed at the start of the season in Brisbane, with Kvitova winning in three sets
Petra Kvitova (Photo by WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

On a 10-match winning streak and with a chance to become World No. 1 next week, Sydney champion Petra Kvitova attempts to reach her first Australian Open final on Thursday against first-time major semi-finalist Danielle Collins.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is into her first Grand Slam semi-final outside of The Championships since 2012 - can the powerful Czech keep her run going into what would be a fairytale final appearance when she takes on surprise semi-finalist Danielle Collins on Thursday?

For me, Kvitova has undoubtedly been the form player of the Australian Open over the last two weeks - and yes, that includes 23-time major champion Serena Williams. Arriving in Melbourne on the back of a short turnaround after winning her 26th WTA title at the Sydney International, Kvitova has continued her blistering form, putting together a 10-match winning streak and not dropping more than four games in a set in dominant victories over Magdalena Rybarikova, Irina-Camelia Begu, Belinda Bencic, Amanda Anisimova and Ashleigh Barty to reach her first major semi-final since winning her second Wimbledon title in 2014 - the match in which she trounced Eugenie Bouchard in the final for the loss of just three games.

Kvitova’s form so far in Melbourne is reminiscent of that match - utterly destructive and rendering her opponents helpless and a mere spectator to her explosive baseline game. The 28-year-old’s first big test of the Australian Open came in the quarter-finals on Tuesday night against local hope Barty in what was a rematch of their Sydney final, which Kvitova edged in a deciding set tiebreak. But there would be no repeat of that marathon encounter, with the Czech seizing the initiative from the outset and never once relinquishing momentum, crushing winner after winner and serving impeccably to completely take Barty’s court craft and variety out of the equation. There was simply nothing Barty could do to stop the relentless barrage of Kvitova power bulldozing down on her like a freight train, and the Australian eventually succumbed after a decent fight in the second set, 1-6 4-6.

It’s not a stretch to say what Kvitova is doing right now in Melbourne is one of the most incredible stories in all of sport. It was just over two years ago when Kvitova was the victim of a horrific home invasion at her residence in Prague, with the intruder pulling out a knife and cutting Kvitova’s dominant left hand, leaving her career in jeopardy. Forced to undergo serious and complicated microsurgery on her hand, Kvitova managed to return to the tour six months later and has been gradually been building back to her best form, including winning five WTA titles in St Petersburg, Doha, Prague, Madrid and Birmingham last year - and with her Sydney crown to launch 2019, no other player currently holds more silverware than her.

Understandably overcome with emotion in her post-match interview when Jim Courier brought up what she’s been through, Kvitova said that "it wasn't really easy for me to see myself being in a semifinal after everything”, but that she’s ready to move on and look ahead to the future.

"I'm calling it my second career," she announced. "So it's the first semifinal of the second career. It took me while, for sure."

Danielle Collins (Photo by SAEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Meanwhile, Danielle Collins has compiled a cinderella story of her own at Melbourne Park over the last couple of weeks, advancing into her first Grand Slam semi-final in stunning fashion. Without a win at any major tournament before setting foot in Melbourne this year, Collins recovered from a set-and-a-break down against Auckland champion Julia Goerges in the opening round before going on a tear through the draw, taking out Sachia Vickery, Caroline Garcia and second seed Angelique Kerber in straight sets, crushing the 2016 Australian Open champion for the loss of just two games. Through to her first quarter-final at a major, Collins was a bit flat and started slowly against Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova on Tuesday, but she began to find her range towards the end of the second set, sneaking through it before her executing her enormous groundstrokes to perfection in the decider, racing through it to complete a 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory.


A two-time NCAA champion who played collegiate tennis for the University of Virginia and graduated in 2016 with a degree in Media Studies, Collins hadn’t even won a WTA main draw match before March 2018, but after conquering Madison Keys on her way to the Round of 16 at Indian Wells, the American shocked everyone as she went on a dazzling run to the semi-finals in Miami, qualifying for the main draw before taking out Irina-Camelia Begu, CoCo Vandeweghe, Donna Vekic, Monica Puig and Venus Williams. That run propelled Collins into the top 50 for the first time, and after ending the year at No. 36 in the world, the 25-year-old is set to rise to at least No. 23 on the back of her run in Melbourne.

The first collegiate woman to make the semi-finals of a Grand Slam since 1996, Collins credits her unconventional path to the top of tennis as the catalyst for her success now at 25 years of age.

"I think not being a child prodigy, not being a superstar at a young age certainly humbled me, made me in a way work harder for things,” Collins said. "I think I was talented and athletic, but maybe not to the level that other players were at, like, 14, 15, 16. I went a different route. I wasn't really sure if I could make it playing professional tennis when I was that age.
"Going to college was really crucial for me and my development. I think it's kind of made me hungrier in some ways, like not having that, 'Oh, I've always been really amazing at tennis'. It wasn't always like that." 

Collins and Kvitova have played once before - just a couple of weeks ago in fact, with Kvitova prevailing 6-7(6) 7-6(6) 6-3 in the first round of Brisbane in a match that lasted close to three hours. It was the first match of the season for both, so I’m not going to take too much from it as both were most likely brushing off the cobwebs. Collins is playing fearless and lights out tennis at the moment, but I’m not sure she can match it with Kvitova in this sort of form. The American took a while to get going in her quarter-final, and while she was able to work her way into the contest against a nervous and erratic Pavlyuchenkova, Kvitova in this mood won’t be so forgiving. In other words, the window of opportunity will be much smaller in this match-up, and if Kvitova plays like she has all tournament, I think the Czech powers her way into a first Australian Open final.

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Kvitova vs Collins Australian Open live streaming, preview and tips - Kvitova targets first major final since 2014 against surprise semi-finalist Collins

On a 10-match winning streak and with a chance to become World No. 1 next week, Sydney champion Petra Kvitova attempts to reach her first Australian Open final on Thursday against first-time major semi-finalist Danielle Collins.

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