Ash Barty, the player who once traded tennis for cricket, gave Australia the homegrown champion it craves when she brought the Rod Laver Arena to its feet.
The 25 year-old Queenslander became the first from the host nation in 44 years to claim an Australian Open singles title when she eventually saw off the challenge of American Danielle Collins.
A tournament plagued by controversy was given a near perfect finish on its final Saturday as the Wimbleton champion and world number one prevailed 6-3 7-6.
Ash Barty became the first home player to win the women’s Australian Open in 44 years by beating Danielle Collins 6-4 7-6 (2)
Barty showed dominance and grit to win the third major title of her career, after the 2019 French Open and Wimbleton in 2021
Barty took the first set 6-3 in just over half an hour as she showed brilliant determination despite the expectation on her
‚This is just a dream come true for me and I’m so proud to be an Aussie,‘ said Barty after being presented with the trophy by Evonne Goolagoong.
This could not be described as a great match, but it was a fascinating battle of wills with the Australian holding it together best in the end. She played her first dropshot of the match to go 4-0 up in the tiebreak and got to match point when Collins struck a forehand well wide.
Barty sealed it 7-2 with a cross court forehand winner, which was followed by the most perfunctory of handshakes at the net. The scorecard told of both players having made more unforced errors than they hit winners.
The local heroine had to overcome a nervous start and ever present anxiety when neither her feet nor forehand were properly working, a sign of the nerves brought on by the weight of expectation.
But things started to go wrong for Barty as she was broken twice to slip to 5-1 in the second set and heading into a decider
American Collins, who had surgery for endometriosis less than a year ago, played some excellent tennis in this contest
She faced the first break point of the match at 2-2, but saving that settled her down and broke immediately afterwards. She finished the first set the more assured with her serve back in its usual excellent order and the normally animated Collins subdued.
Amid a tense atmosphere, which saw some of the crowd cheering the underdog’s mistakes, the American fought back to take a 3-0 lead with the errors flowing on both sides.
When Collins got to 5-1 up and the set looked a lost cause Barty began to relax again and lift her game and, amid the welter of mishaps on both sides, got back to 5-4. Umpire Marijana Veljovic had to ask the crowd not to shout out between the American’s first and second serves after the player approached the chair to complain.
Ultimately it was all about Barty holding her nerve and just about managing to execute.
But Australia’s biggest tennis star won four games in a row to get back on serve before clinching the title via a tiebreak
Sportsmail’s SAM BLITZ was on the live blog for live coverage of Ashleigh Barty vs Danielle Collins in the Australian Open final