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WTA • Tennis • Miami • Danielle Collins Crushes Venus Williams, Rolls Into Semifinals

Danielle Collins of the USA in action against Venus Williams of the USA during their quarterfinal match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 28 March 2018. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE



The sight of Venus Williams in the locker room nearly brought qualifier Danielle Collins to tears.


Squaring off against her tennis idol for the first time, Collins calmly hammered her hero right out of the tournament.


In an audacious performance of power and poise, the 93rd-ranked Collins crushed Williams, 6-2, 6-3, charging into her first semifinal at the Miami Open.


The two-time NCAA champion not only overpowered the three-time Miami champion at times, she showed virtually the entire shot spectrum in the process. Collins confounded Williams with the lob, mixed in the drop shot, hit sharp angles and controlled key rallies blasting her backhand into the corners.


Not a bad night for the St. Petersburg, Florida native, who conceded she nearly lost it running into Williams in the locker room before the match.


“The first time I saw Venus in the locker room, I nearly cried,” Collins told ESPN’s Rennae Stubbs afterward. “I’ve idolized her my whole life, she’s been my favorite player forever. This is such a special moment. I’m just trying to wrap my head around it.”


The 24-year-old Floridian stretched her winning streak to seven matches, including victories over 2017 US Open semifinalists CoCo Vandeweghe and Williams as well as a comeback conquest of Olympic gold medal champion Monica Puig.


The $327,965 Collins has earned for her semifinal run is $22,000 more than the $305, 385 in career earnings she carried into Miami.


Bidding for her second straight semifinal, Williams was simply outplayed by the fired-up Collins.


“I mean, she played very well and aggressively, and she went for every shot and it landed,” Williams said. “I mean, there’s going to be some days where they don’t land, but that wasn’t today.”


Collins will play reigning Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko for a spot in the final.


The fifth-ranked Ostapenko squeezed out a 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5) victory over fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina to reach her first semifinal of the season.


“I haven’t played her since Eddie Herr,” Collins said. “That was a long time ago. So it’s gonna be a totally different match. I’m just looking forward to the opportunity.”


Showing no trace of nerves in the face of tonight’s opportunity, Collins powered out to a 3-1 lead.


Venus Williams of the USA in action against Danielle Collins of the USA during their quarterfinal match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 28 March 2018. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

Twenty-five minutes into the match, Williams saved a break point leaping for a high swinging backhand volley that caught the tape and dribbled over.


That improvised scramble helped the veteran hold for 2-4 after teetering on the ledge of a possible 1-5 deficit.


Coached by Pat Harrison, Ryan Harrison’s father, Collins was composed and fearless throughout the opening set.


Hammering her two-handed backhand into the corners, Collins had no qualms taking the seven-time Grand Slam champion’s pace on the rise.


Williams tried mixing in some looping topspin forehands, but when she dragged a flat backhand into net, Collins held for 5-2.


Tugging on her rasberry Nike baseball cap, Collins narrowed her focus and continued to beat the former No. 1 to the punch. Collins crunched a backhand off the line for set point. Williams responded whipping a forehand off the sideline to save it.


When Williams showed some nerves sping a 74 mph second serve into net to face a second set point, mother Oracene was biting her nails from the support box.


The three-time champion threw down a 119 mph blast to save it only to spit up her second double fault of the game.


On her third set point, Collins stabbed back a lunging return then lofted a slick lob that her 6’1″ opponent could not handle.


The 93rd-ranked qualifier took the 38-minute opening set without surrendering serve.


Zapping 104 mph ace wide Collins saved a break point to start the second set barking “come on, right here!” Digging it with a sliding defensive forehand, Collins held strong.


Pouncing on any mid-court ball she saw, Collins’ vicious two-handed backhand and varied forehand that she can spin or flatten out kept Williams off-balance and often on the defensive.


At times, Williams tried playing slice off both wings to try to disrupt the qualifier’s rhythm.


Dancing around the ball, Collins crunched an inside-out forehand breaking for 4-2.


“I mean, it was unlucky for me,” Williams said. “I don’t think it was my best night of tennis, but, I mean, there wasn’t a shot she couldn’t make. So that was just, you know, of course one of those days.”


Moving the ball side-to-side Collins changed the height of her shots a time following a twisting topspin with a flatter drive. Williams scraped a forehand into net ending the seventh game as Collins extended her lead to 5-2 then jumped up from her court-side seat 10 seconds early showing eagerness.


Serving for the biggest win of her career, Collins was confident at closing time. She earned double match point when an off-balance Williams netted a backhand.


Lacing a forehand into the middle of the net on her first match point, Collins bounced the ball three times and slashed a big serve completing a stunning upset.

Venus Williams of the USA (L) and Danielle Collins of the USA (R) meet at the net following their quarterfinal match at the Miami Open tennis tournament on Key Biscayne, Miami, Florida, USA, 28 March 2018. EPA-EFE/RHONA WISE

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