The clash between Elena Rybakina and Danielle Collins was an absolute highlight in women's Round 3 of Australian Open. It was clearly one of the duels which many fans were waiting for after revealing of main draw shape. Reigning Wimbledon champion approached to this match after much easier road to Round of 32, not losing a single set on a road. Last year's AO finalist survived quite a rollercoaster during two epic three-setters, spending almost 6 hours on the court, dealing with some knee issues as well. Rybakina was a slight pre-match favorite with average odd 1.65. The Kazakh start superbly, breaking Collins's serve in opening game. First set was one-way traffic, as Rybakina was playing A-game on serve, dealing with only one deuce in the middle of the set, while the American started slowly, being clearly overwhelmed a little bit.
Rybakina did not slow down her huge serving in second set, but "Danimal" proved once again, that she is no one who gives up. The American raised her game, serving much better than in first set, putting some pressure on Rybakina during rallies. Both players were holding their serves confidently, until the 12th game, when Rybakina faced the only one breakpoint on her serve in the match. Collins took a chance, which she was tenaciously waiting for, and leveled the set score, thanks to creating and converting first breakpoint after two sets of play.
Unforutnately, third set did not brought any thrilling emotions, like previous matches played by Collins in this tournament. Danielle lost her serve in opening game despite being 30-0. This game was higlighted by a stunning 32-hits rally won by Rybakina, which gave her a breakpoint chance. It could be some kind of turning point of the match, while Collins lost her momentum and did not relate anymore to the form displayed in second set. The Kazakh did not gave away her advantage and won third set dominantly, 6-2. It was quite an interesting match from the statistical point of view, while the player who lost, converted 100% of breakpoint chances, having just one opportunity during whole the match, which practically decided that it lasted whole distance. The fatigue suffered in first two rounds could be the factor, why Danielle Collins was not looking at her best in the deciding set. Nevertheless, she can leave Melbourne with her head held high, showing enormous fighting spirit once again, delivering a ton of great emotions and epic moments during her matches. Let's hope, that her knee issue suffered in first round is not serious, while Collins holding up the health issues is always dangerous for anyone and priceless value for WTA field as a fierce player and great personality.
Another American player who did not manage to defend a bunch of points earned due to a good result in last year's AO is Madison Keys. 2022 semifinalist failed in an interesting match-up with Victoria Azarenka. Keys started the match great, winning first set 6-1, but then the roles reversed and it was Azarenka who dominated on court, winning another two sets 6-2 and 6-1. Just 1:40h for a three-setter. The Belarusian will face Lin Zhu in Round of 16. Chinese player earned her best career's win defeating Maria Sakkari 7-6 1-6 6-4, making a huge upset on Greek, earning her first ever victory against top 10 player.
Just those three women's matches ended-up in three sets today. Another duels were the one-way traffic shows, won by the favorites. Iga Swiatek destroyed Cristina Bucsa 6-0 6-1 and can entirely focus herself on the absolute hit contest of the Round of 16, where she will face Elena Rybakina. It will be the match-up between two reigning Grand Slam champions, which is quite unusual nowadays in women's tennis. Both players seem to be in a great shape and that can be considered as a premature final in this early stage of tournament. Jessica Pegula also sent a statement about her ambitions to be a title contender, storming through Marta Kostyuk 6-0 6-2.