By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Wednesday August 31, 2022
Flushing Meadows, NY—When Danielle Collins, the No.19 seed at this year’s US Open, saw the US Open draw and realized she’d have to face Naomi Osaka in the first round, she had only two words to say: “Oh, crap.”
But this year’s Australian Open runner-up quickly recognized—and met—the Osaka challenge to lock up a 7-6(5), 6-3 triumph.
Far from a shrinking violet, Collins is confident as can be in her powers, and put them to work to take down a four-time Slam champion that is far from confident.
“I’m capable of playing a pretty high level, with the success she had,” Collins said. “It’s kind of tough for both of us to have to [face] each other in the first round. But such a great match for all the fans to watch. I think we played really high level tennis so we can both kind of walk away happy with the performance.”
Truth be told, it has been a difficult journey for Collins since her breakthrough performance at a Slam in Australia. She has been hindered by a neck injury and has never really been able to put it in the rearview.
She came into the US Open with just three wins in nine matches since reaching the quarterfinals at the Miami Open, where she was defeated by Osaka, 6-2, 6-1.
“I’ve been dealing with a neck injury all year, so that’s just been something that hasn’t really gone away,” she said. “I haven’t really had adequate time to let it rest and to heal. It’s one of these things that gets better when I’m resting. When I start playing again, it kind of comes back.”
Collins says that coming back too soon and playing while injured has effectively hurt her confidence.
“When you’re sometimes getting beat when you feel like you’re not totally prepared physically or mentally, it starts to hurt your confidence a little bit. It can be really frustrating,” she said.
She may not be 100 percent healthy this week, but she’ll certainly be more confident after taking out such a high-caliber talent in the opening round.
Collins will face Romania’s Cristina Bucsa, the World No.118, in the second round.
Bigger things could be on the way for Collins if she can string together a few more wins.
“Hoping that I can continue the momentum,” she said. “Hopefully this gives me some confidence knowing that I can beat someone like Naomi and compete hard after not having any matches going into it. So yeah, I’m hoping for that.”
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