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Palermo Ladies Open
Danielle Collins reaches first WTA final of career in Palermo
She had reached a number of big semifinals—including one at a major—but she had never been to a WTA final until now.
Published Jul 24, 2021
While a lot of the big names are going for Olympic glory in Tokyo, the rest of the players have been battling it out at five tour-level events across Europe and North America this week, with no shortage of headlines—including a career milestone for Danielle Collins, who just reached the first WTA final of her career on the clay courts of Palermo, Italy.
Seeded No. 1 at a WTA event for the first time in her career, Collins outslugged No. 4 seed Zhang Shuai, 6-4, 6-3, in a one-hour, 15-minute semifinal on Saturday night.
She was told afterwards that she was making it look easy.
“It may look easy at times, but it’s certainly not, especially when you’re playing such tough opponents, like my opponent today,” Collins said. “I had to make some adjustments at times today, and I’m so grateful to be getting competition like this day after day.
“I just try to focus on each match and try to improve and get better as the days and matches go on. Over time, I’ve made some improvements. I’m still working on some things, but overall I feel like I’m definitely progressing, and getting more matches helps.”
Before this week, Collins had been 0-6 in her career in tour-level semifinals, but a lot of those came at very, very big events, including a Grand Slam (2019 Australian Open), a WTA 1000 (2018 Miami) and two WTA 500s (2018 San Jose and 2020 Adelaide).
Standing between Collins and her first WTA title will be Romanian qualifier Elena-Gabriela Ruse, who won her first WTA title in her last event at another WTA 250 on clay in Hamburg, Germany a few weeks ago. She’s now won eight matches in a row (12 including qualies).
At the other women’s event this week, No. 150-ranked Slovak Kristina Kucova and No. 165-ranked Belgian Maryna Zanevska will battle it out for the WTA 250 clay-court title in Gdynia, Poland. Both women are through to their first tour-level finals this week.
Meanwhile, No. 14-ranked Casper Ruud was the biggest name in action at the three men’s events on Saturday, and he was in devastating form—the No. 3-seeded Norwegian posted a 6-3, 6-0 win over Czech qualifier (and surprise semifinalist) Vit Kopriva, who had pulled off a second-round stunner over No. 1 seed Denis Shapovalov earlier in the week.
Ruud, who improved to 30-9 on the year, is now a win away from his fourth career ATP title, having won ATP 250s on clay in Buenos Aires last year and in Geneva and Bastad this year. He’ll take on 20-year-old French lefty Hugo Gaston—a first-time ATP finalist—for the title.
Meanwhile, British lefty Cam Norrie will go up against American up-and-comer Brandon Nakashima in the final in Los Cabos, Mexico, while former Top 10 player Richard Gasquet will face either Albert Ramos-Vinolas or Carlos Alcaraz in the final in Umag, Croatia.