Danielle Collins one win away from remarkable rankings breakthrough at Italian Open

Kevin Palmer
Danielle Collins celebrates
Danielle Collins of the USA celebrates blowing a kiss to the crowd

The Danielle Collins success story continued to run and run.

After promising to call time on her career at some point in 2024, Collins has gone on a remarkable run of winning that included a title win at the Miami Open in March and a victory in the WTA 500 tournament in Charleston a week later.

She is continuing to tear it up on the clay courts of Europe, with her battling performance at the Madrid Open halted in a tight defeat against world No 2 Aryna Sabalenka.

Now Collins will get a chance to avenge that defeat against Sabalenka as she will take on the Belarusian star in the semi-finals of the Italian Open after a  6-4, 6-3 win over former world No 1 Victoria Azarenka in Rome.

Remarkably, Collins has now won 19 of her last 20 matches, with the run starting in her opening match at the Miami Open.

Collins has a career-high ranking of No 7 in July 2022 and that mark is now within her sights as she is just one win away from a return to the top ten of the WTA Rankings.

That would be a remarkable achievement for a player who was ranked at No 63 in mid-February.

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Collins has also changed her image with the tennis public in recent weeks, with her reputation for being a little combustible and ‘tricky’ to deal with earned over many years.

Yet she has served up some engaging interviews with the Tennis Channel in recent weeks and was also in engaging form as she appeared on the Served with Andy Roddick podcast this week.

“I feel like I’m totally opposite on the court as opposed to away from it,” she said.

“I mean, a lot of times when I’m away from the court I’m like ‘Wow I really don’t know how I’m cut out to do this,’ because I think sometimes I’m too laid back,” she told the 2003 US Open winner.

“But then when I get on the court I really channel the physicality and the emotional energy that I need to play with, and I think it takes a lot of people by surprise.

“I’m definitely not like a stereotypical tennis personality, especially not on the women’s side, and certainly not miss goody two shoes. And nor do I try to be that.

“I have a big personality. Sometimes for people watching they’re very offended. They just don’t understand me.”

Collins is certainly winning over all of her critics with her form in recent months and she has to be seen as a strong contender to win her first Grand Slam title at the French Open.

With her confidence flowing and her power-packed game proving to be too much for most of her rivals on the WTA Tour, the 30-year-old is playing the best tennis of her career and the confidence of so many wins is making her a potent opponent for any rival.

She is sitting at No 4 in the WTA Race for 2024 and that may be a more realistic version of her ranking than the 15th spot she is currently occupying.

One thing for certain is no one will want to be drawn against Danielle Collins at the French Open and then at Wimbledon a few weeks later.