Collins storms away from Osaka in Abu Dhabi win

FORMER Australian Open finalist Danielle Collins proved too good for two-time Grand Slam champion Naomi Osaka, with the American qualifier storming to victory in Abu Dhabi after a tight first set. In what was billed as a potential classic in the WTA 500 event, Collins used her extra match fitness to power past the Japanese talent in and hour and 23 minutes, 7-5 6-0.

After giving birth to daughter Shai last year, Osaka made her return to the Tour in 2024 but has copped rough first round matches each time. It appeared she had finally got luck on her side with a qualifier, only for it to be the most dangerous qualifier of them all in former world number seven, Collins.

In what will be Collins’ last season on Tour – she announced her impending retirement post-Australian Open – the 30-year-old showed she still has plenty of fight left in her, weathering the equal power from Osaka’s side of the net to completely dismantle the former number one in the second set.

“I knew what to expect against Naomi,” Collins said. “I know she’s been out for a little while and is just coming back, but I had to lean into my tactics and rely on that: mixing the targets well, going through the visualisations that we do as athletes. This is one of the better matches I’ve served this year, which I’ve been working on.

“I still feel like I’m in good form, even though this is my last year. I needed an end date – I’ve enjoyed my time on tour and had some amazing experiences that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. But right now, it’s not over yet. I’m still competing and battling and working at it, and I still have some goals I want to accomplish.”

Osaka headed into the match having won three of the pair’s four prior appearances, but with minimal matches under her belt since returning to the Tour, it was always going to be tough. Still, the first set was a treat for fans as both players only dropped two points off their first serve with Osaka (15 of 17) and Collins (20 of 22). The difference was Collins’ 55 per cent efficiency compared to Osaka’s 46 per cent.

In the end, the sole break point – from just two break point opportunities – allowed Collins to take the opening set 7-5. That result then gave her confidence and momentum into the second as she reeled off nine consecutive games from 4-5 in the first, to bagel Osaka in the second set.

Osaka looked completely out of touch, winning just three of points on serve, and a total of 10 points for the set, as Collins saved all six break points that Osaka somehow created. Once through that, she easily took out the match and advance through to the Round of 16 for a massive clash against top seed and Wimbledon champion, Elena Rybakina.

The Kazakhstan tournament favourite had a bye in the opening round, but has a friendly draw after a number of late withdrawals to the tournament. A pair of lucky losers won through to the Round of 16 with Cristina Bucsa coming back from a first set loss to dominate Xinyu Wang, 5-7 6-0 6-3. Spanish compatriot and fellow lucky loser Sara Sorribes Tormo also caused an upset against in-form qualifier and young gun, Linda Noskova.

In the same top half of the draw, British qualifier Heather Watson shocked ninth seeded Veronika Kudermetova to set up a second round encounter with Bucsa with the winner to face Rybakina or Collins in the quarter finals.

It meant just one seed in the top half of the draw won through with the two automatic winners in Rybakina and Barbora Krejcikova, and that was eighth seeded Liudmila Samsonova who destroyed former top 10 Ukrainian, Lesia Tsurenko 6-0 6-1. Tsurenko’s compatriot Anhelina Kalinina had more luck with a straight sets victory over Italian lucky loser, Lucia Bronzetti.

In the bottom half of the draw, British wildcard Emma Raducanu looked in red-hot form against Czech Marie Bouzkova winning 6-4 6-1, setting up a massive Round of 16 clash against second seed Ons Jabeur. Also through to the next stage was sixth seeded Beatriz Haddad Maia with a victory over Xiyu Wang to meet Magda Linette.

Many had planned for a Maria SakkariCaroline Garcia Round of 16 encounter, only for Romanian Sorana Cirstea to spoil the party against the latter, coming back from a set down to beat the Frenchwoman, 6-7 6-4 6-4. In the other results, Russian seventh seed Daria Kasatkina moved through after defeating French qualifier Diane Parry in three sets to take on Ashlyn Krueger.


[6] Beatrice Haddad Maia (BRA) defeated [WC] Xiyu Wang (CHN) 6-2 7-6
[7] Daria Kasatkina (RUS) defeated [Q] Dianne Parry (FRA) 6-4 5-7 6-4
[8] Liudmila Samsonova (RUS) defeated Lesia Tsurenko (UKR) 6-0 6-1
[Q] Heather Watson (GBR) defeated [9] Veronika Kudermetova (RUS) 6-3 7-5
[Q] Danielle Collins (USA) defeated [WC] Naomi Osaka (JPN) 7-5 6-0
[LL] Cristina Bucsa (ESP) defeated Xinyu Wang (CHN) 5-7 6-0 6-3
[LL] Sara Sorribes Tormo (ESP) defeated [Q] Linda Noskova (CZE) 6-3 3-6 6-3
Anhelina Kalinina (UKR) defeated [LL] Lucia Bronzetti (ITA) 6-1 7-6
[Q] Ashlyn Krueger (USA) defeated [Q] Bernarda Pera (USA) 6-2 5-7 6-3
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) defeated Caroline Garcia (FRA) 6-7 6-4 6-4
Magda Linette (POL) defeated [WC] Alexandra Eala (PHI) 7-6 6-1
[WC] Emma Raducanu (GBR) defeated Marie Bouzkova (CZE) 6-4 6-1

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