By Tucker Verdi
Last week, she was ranked 117th in the world and didn’t even know if she would be in the main draw.
Tonight, Danielle Collins beat her idol Venus Williams to advance to the semifinals of the Miami Open, becoming the first qualifier to do so.
“You know, I have put in the hard work my whole life,” the 24-year-old remarked at her presser, “so at the end of the day, I know I have done literally everything I can do to put myself in the best situation.”
Collins, who won two NCAA national championships during her years at the University of Virginia, overpowered the 37-year-old Venus and worked her around the court.
“I obviously have an incredible amount of respect for Venus, but you kind of have to take the name out of it and just focus on the tennis part and play one point at a time.”
Williams didn’t seem to have an answer to Collins’ relentless game.
“There wasn't a shot she couldn't make,” the 7-time Grand Slam champ said post-match. “I mean, she played very well and aggressively, and she went for every shot and it landed.
“There's going to be some days where they don't land, but that wasn't today.”
Collins also landed a tough opponent tomorrow in Jelena Ostapenko. The 20-year-old Latvian willed her way to a tight 7-6(3), 7-6(5) win over World No. 4 Elina Svitolina.
“I mean, before the match I knew I had to be very aggressive,” Ostapenko said after the match, “and when I had a chance, I was going for it.”
The reigning French Open titlist was definitely going for it, her winner total just barely edging her unforced error total 44-42. But it was clear from the get-go that Ostapenko didn’t think she could win the rally battle with the 24-year-old Ukranian, so she danced on the edge by relying on aggressive shots to overpower Svitolina.
“I think this tournament I’m playing more aggressive which is helping me,” Ostapenko explained. “I think that I had to play a little bit smarter, but in general, I think that I was aggressive today helped me.
“I’m not afraid to miss the ball.”
She indeed missed frequently, but Ostapenko made the shots that mattered and just edged her way into her second premier mandatory semifinal.
Said Collins on her next opponent, “She's a fighter. She won the French Open. It's going to be another incredible opportunity for me, and I'm just really looking forward to get out on the court and having a great match.”
For full results, visit miamiopen.com/2018-results.