MELBOURNE — American Danielle Collins is a rarity in women’s tennis as her route to the WTA tour took her to college where she was a two-time NCAA singles champion at the University of Virginia.
On Sunday in Melbourne, the 28-year-Collins did the Cavaliers proud when she pummeled second-seeded Angelique Kerber, a three-time Grand Slam champion, 6-0, 6-2 in the fourth round. The victory marks her third in eight matches played against a Grand Slam champion.
While both players executed 17 unforced errors in the 56-minute match, Collins dominated with 29 winners to only six for Kerber, who won her first major title here in 2016. While Collins predominantly relies on a power game, she can show flashes of touch as she did on match point with a beautiful forehand drop shot winner.
“When I was in college my coaches always told me to go out and go for it,” Collins told the crowd. “That’s done well for me on the pro tour.”
Collins, only the second woman to win two NCAA singles titles, is the fourth collegian to reach the round-of-16 at a major, along with former players Lisa Raymond, Jill Craybas and Laura Granville.
The Floridian is the first collegiate women’s player to advance to the quarterfinals of a major since Raymond, who played for the University of Florida, reached the final eight at the 2004 Australian Open.
Collins experienced a breakout season last year, starting her rise when she reached the Miami Open semifinals as a qualifier. Months later, Collins received her first main draw direct acceptance at a Grand Slam at the French Open.
She played in the final three Grand Slams last year — and two additional U.S. Opens in the past — and had never won a match in five attempts.
The 35th-ranked Collins has now circumnavigated three seeds at this Australian Open. She upset 14th-seeded Julia Goerges of Germany in the first-round and 19th-seeded Caroline Garcia of France in the third round.
Collins will play the winner of the fourth-round match between fifth-seeded Sloane Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, the last match scheduled for Rod Laver Arena on Sunday night.
Follow Sandra Harwitt on Twitter @TennisGrapevine.