Learning to accept a lack of perfection propelled Collins to improbable Miami title

Things were not going well for Danielle Collins heading into the Miami Open. But she flipped a switch both mentally and physically, rolling to the biggest title of her career.

Danielle Collins, Miami 2024 Danielle Collins, Miami 2024 | © Julien Nouet for Tennis Majors

Danielle Collins played seven tournaments in 2024 prior to arriving in Miami. She did not advance past the quarter-finals in any of the seven. Two weeks ago at the BNP Paribas Open she won a grand total of three games during a second-round loss to Iga Swiatek.

As if the on-court results were not enough to damage her confidence, Collins also dealt with a back injury heading into Indian Wells. The 30-year-old had been forced to retire from her quarter-final match in Austin against Xiyu Wang.

“I was coming off a back injury that happened in Austin,” Collins reflected. “I was devastated not to be able to finish out that tournament, because that’s also a really important event for me. It’s one of my home tournaments and one of my favorite events of the year.

Nothing suggested Collins could achieve that

“Then I went to Indian Wells and had multiple days off in a row. I had a few days — not exaggerating — (where) I literally couldn’t walk. I was having to have my boyfriend help me a lot. It was awful. There were a lot of tears about…oh my gosh…’I have played all these tournaments, I have worked so hard for this, and now we’re at Indian Wells and Miami and this is happening. Like, why?'”

Absolutely nothing suggested that Collins’ was in line for a successful result at the Miami Open.

Instead, it became the best tournament of her career.

it’s never going to be 100 percent. you’ve got to figure out a way to work through it and get through it.

Danielle Collins

Collins was one set away from seeing her struggles continue in the Miami first round. The world No 53 lost her opening set to Bernard Pera 6-3.

Suddenly, however, Collins settled down just in time — and the rest is history. She rolled through her next two sets against Pera 6-1, 6-1 and never looked back. In fact, she never lost another set the entire rest of the tournament. With Saturday’s triumph over Elena Rybakina that gave Collins the biggest title of her professional life, she capped off a streak of 14 consecutive sets won by scores of 6-1, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 and 6-3.

How did she do it? Most importantly, Collins accepted that things weren’t going perfectly — not during the 2024 season as a whole and also not during her first-round match.

“When I came out in the first round I had a tough match against Pera, a really tricky player — a lefty,” Collins reflected. “I was happy to really get through that. But I also did a great job of putting (away) all that fear of, ‘oh, am I doing enough, am I not doing enough, am I too injured, am I too this, too that?’ I think so much of what we do we’re like perfectionists out there. We want perfect preparation, we want the perfect warmup, we want the perfect practice, we want feeling perfect all the time.

“She’s super resilient” – Ben Maxwell, Collins’ coach

“I think what makes some of these players, like, the best in the world is that they learn how to play around those things. That’s the thing that I have learned the most this tournament is, ‘okay, it’s never going to be 100 percent and you’ve got to figure out a way to, even though you have those challenges, work through it and get through it.'”

With some physical luck — “with the help of the physical therapy and chiropractor we were able to kind of get [my back] under control,” Collins explained — in addition to a mental reset and a whole lot of fight on the court, Collins was able to turn it all around.

“She’s just been super resilient,” part-time coach Ben Maxwell said following the final. “She’s a perfectionist, as we all are as players and coaches. She cares. She wants to make every ball. She’s fighting every moment on the court, whether it’s practice or in the finals of a (WTA) 1000.”

People in this post

Your comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *