Australian Open final start time, TV channel and live stream

When Simona Halep beat Serena Williams in the 2019 Wimbledon final, we were perhaps not aware of quite how momentous a moment it was – or at least how long it would be until something similar happened again.

Most observers thought the chance for history had been missed when Halep sealed a one-sided 6-2 6-2 victory over the American and denied her a 24th grand slam title that would have drawn her level with Margaret Court.

However, they could not have predicted that it would be the last time for at least three years that the crowd at a women’s grand slam final would be treated to the presence of two top-10 players. The next nine, as Danielle Collins’ victory over Iga Swiatek confirmed, would at most feature just one player ranked in the top 10 in the world.

Even that match also only just qualified as Halep was the world No 7 and Serena the world No 10, although both had previously been No 1.

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What has followed is an era full of unpredictability on and off the court, a fact that tends to split the room. One half of the tennis community sees it as a sign of the health of the women’s game, that anyone can beat anyone – after all, isn’t that the great selling point of the much-vaunted Premier League? The other half suggests that a lack of consistency makes it hard for tennis, a second sport at best in most parts of the world, to penetrate the mainstream conversation with household names, because rarely are they all involved in the sharp end of the tournament.

Both arguments have merit: Emma Raducanu’s breakthrough at the end of last year was only, in part, possible because of the openness of the field. She did not have to beat any top-10 players en route to her US Open title. Equally though, the underdog story does not always penetrate with such efficacy; Marketa Vondrousova, Jennifer Brady and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova have all reached finals in the last three years but none is a household name. Sofia Kenin actually won a slam and has barely won a match since.

“I think sometimes change is good,” Barty said on Thursday.

Barty vs Collins

  • Venue: Rod Laver Arena
  • Date: Saturday 29 January
  • Time: 7.30pm local/8.30am UK time
  • TV: Eurosport 1 (Sky channel 410, BT 435, Virgin 521)
  • Live stream: Online-only Discovery+ subscription sport package available for £6.99 per month; also purchasable as bolt-on to Amazon Prime Video for the same price

“I think the way that the WTA or the women’s tour has changed over the last three, four, five years has been incredible.

“My team challenges me every single day to try and become better and to try and keep doing the things that we love to do. It’s been an incredible journey over the last few years of enjoying that challenge, of continually trying to get better and better and better.

“That’s a testament to the depth that is on the tour right now, because you have seen even recently with different winners and different tournaments, anyone in the draw is able to win the event. You really have to respect every single opponent and you have to play your best tennis time and time again to be able to compete.”

Barty is one of the relative constants in the women’s game, with 112 weeks of No 1 status under her belt and two grand slam titles, but she too was knocked out before the fourth round in two of four majors last year.

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Great athletes are remembered by their rivals as much as by themselves: Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova (and for the Australians, Grant Hackett and Ian Thorpe). Barty does not have a name that follows hers as naturally as those. Naomi Osaka, Coco Gauff and Iga Swiatek all have the potential, but not one the consistency.

Danielle Collins is not a name many would have mentioned before the tournament, certainly not in the company of the names above. The American knocked out three seeds during her run to the semis here three years ago, but had produced just one grand slam quarter-final appearance since (and that came at the dark horse derby that was the 2020 French Open). Truthfully – her dominant win over Swiatek aside – Collins has had the draw open up favourably for her. Elena Rybakina, Anett Kontaveit and Garbine Muguruza were all in her quarter, but none made it far enough to face her.

Take nothing away from Collins though, she seized her chance.

“Whether you’re outside the top 50, whether you’re outside the top 100 or you’re in the top 10, I think everybody has a chance of making deep runs,” Collins said.

“I have used that mentality and just tried to do the best that I can. I have tried to believe in what I’m doing with how I’m playing.”

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