Collins sees off Azarenka to reach semi-finals in Rome

The American has now won 19 of her past 20 matches and will take on Aryna Sabalenka for a place in the final

Danielle Collins (2) Zuma/Panoramic
Internazionali BNL d'Italia •Quarter-final • completed
See draw

American Danielle Collins, the No 13 seed, beat Belarusian Victoria Azarenka, the No 24 seed, 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the semi-finals of the Italian Open at the Foro Italico in Roma on Wednesday evening.

Collins, ranked No 15, held off a late rally from former world No 1 Azarenka to set up a meeting with another Belarusian, No 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka next.

“It feels amazing. This has become one of my favourite tournaments, Rome is one of my favourite cities in the world so to have as much support as I’ve been having, super-excited to be in the semi-finals.”

Collins on edge in second set

Collins led 4-1 in the second set and had a point for 5-1 only to suddenly get jittery, allowing Azarenka back into the match. The American’s nerves were one edge, too, at the end, but she got the job done as the Belarusian put a drop shot in the net.

Collins has already announced she will retire at the end of the year, a decision that has coincided with her best ever run, the win over Azarenka her 19th in her last 20 matches, including two titles.

But asked if she was now playing more freely because of her announcement, Collins bristled.

“I don’t really know what that means, to play freely,” she said. “I’ve put so much work into this over the years. My success if a product of that and I hope people can respect that.”

The American defeated Russian Anna Blinkova (6-4, 0-0 ret.), Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia, the No 22 seed (6-3, 6-3) and Romanian Irina-Camelia Begu (6-0, 6-3) in the previous rounds of the Rome tournament.

Earlier in the tournament, Azarenka, ranked No 24, won against Pole Magda Linette (6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-3), Egyptian Mayar Sherif (6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-3) and Greek Maria Sakkari, the No 5 seed (6-4, 6-1).

Rome WTA 1000, other quarter-final results (Foro Italico, clay, USD 5,509,771, most recent results first):

  • Aryna Sabalenka beat Jelena Ostapenko (9): 6-2, 6-4
  • Coco Gauff (3) beat Qinwen Zheng (7): 7-6 (4), 6-1
  • Iga Swiatek (1) beat Madison Keys (18): 6-1, 6-3

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