Collins wins the 2024 Miami Open, clinches maiden WTA 1000 in home state Florida


by Daniel Perisse

There is no place like home – especially for Danielle Collins. This Saturday, the St. Petersburg, Fla. native won the 2024 Miami Open presented by Itau Women’s Singles title, her first career WTA 1000, after defeating World No. 4 Elena Rybakina 7-5, 6-3.

“What a dream come true, to have played at the level that I have played consistently over the last two weeks. This has been such a journey for me. Thirty years old, and this was the final of my first WTA 1000, it has been a different journey than I think a lot of the stories that we are familiar with. It has just been amazing to go out today and to have felt the energy that I felt from the fans and literally feel like I am playing in front of thousands of my best friends, that was just surreal. I will never forget this day because of that,” exclaimed Collins.

At 30 years old, this is just her third title, after Palermo and San Jose (both in 2021). The American lifted the trophy at the Hard Rock Stadium amidst a great moment in her career: she won 17 of her last 21 matches, and with today’s win, she will move to World No. 22 as of next week.

“The encouragement I got, It was hard for me to hide the emotion. I think these are the moments that we live for, and don’t always get to have them. It was just really special,” she added.

Despite this accomplishment today, Collins maintains her decision to retire at the end of this season, due to off-court health issues. The former University of Virginia standout (she won the NCAA titles in 2014 and 2016) did not set a date for her farewell from professional tennis and plans to play at least until the US Open.

Speaking of history, two of the greatest tennis players in history witnessed Collins’ win at Hard Rock Stadium: Martina Navratilova, the first female player to win the Miami Open, in 1985, and Andre Agassi, a six-times champion here, tied with Novak Djokovic with most wins in men’s singles.

Besides Collins and Navratilova, other four US female players won in singles: Chris Evert (1986), Venus Williams (1998, 1999, 2001), Serena Williams (2002, 2003, 2004, 2007, 2008, 2013, 2014, 2015) and Sloane Stephens (2018). She is the first to win since the tournament went to Hard Rock Stadium.

In her turn, Rybakina was seeking redemption after falling short of winning the Miami Open last year, losing to Czech Petra Kvitova. Once again, the Kazakh lost to a tour veteran. Despite the loss, the Kazakh still leads the head-to-head 3-2.

“Yeah, it was a very tough match, but as I said, we were not expecting for me to be in the final with all the circumstances and that I didn’t play so much before the tournament. So overall I think it is a positive week, and yeah, it was a lot of good matches. I’m happy with that,” commented Rybakina, who reached her fourth final this season.

Rybakina won titles in Brisbane and Abu Dhabi and lost in Doha to Iga Swiatek and Collins at the Miami Open. Also, her record this season now is 22-4.

The break points saved made a difference in the first set: while Collins did it five times, Rybakina failed once in four chances.  And that happened in the 12th game when the American was leading 6-5 and broke the Kazakh’s serve to clinch the first set in exactly one hour.

With some help from the noisy crowd at Hard Rock Stadium, Collins kept her good momentum at the beginning of the second set, holding serve and breaking Rybakina in the second game, 2-0.

But the Kazakh didn’t give up and broke Collins’ serve in the following game, making the score 2-2 by holding her serve in the fourth game.

The World No. 4 had three break points in the seventh game but did not make any. Collins held serve 4-3 and then broke the Kazakh to increase her lead.

“Yeah, I had a lot of chances. As I was saying before, sometimes luck is on your side; sometimes not, because with all the chances I had, not to break once, I think it is a bit of luck also there. But yeah, I was still trying to fight every point. I was still there, but yeah, as I said, there were too many chances that I did not take. So obviously it was difficult to come back after,” commented Rybakina.

Serving for the match at 5-3, Collins needed four championship points to finish the match and win her first WTA 1000 at No. 53, the lowest-ranked Miami Open champion in history.

“I had a few match points, and Elena was doing some great things out there and pushing me back and forcing me to come up with some good stuff movement-wise, hitting hard shots, hitting the small parts of the court. So that is challenging when someone forces you to come up with your best stuff. I certainly felt that on the returns and the serving today. I knew that I had to bring my ‘A’ Game,” said the Florida native.

Collins revealed that winning a WTA 1000 was something in her plans for this last season, and the act that she will not be playing professional tennis as of next year has been helping in how she comes to the tournaments:

“I think part of the reason why I played so well and did a good job today was because I had that mentality of, like, I’m going to enjoy every minute of this. This is my last year, this is my last season, and these are some of my final events. I want to remember these moments.”

“I feel like today I woke up and when we were in the car, I was, like, oh, this is going to be the first time I play a final in my home state and have a lot of crowd support. This is so exciting. We changed the playlist and got pumped up. It was just so much fun. This day has been, like, the best. I have so many family members and friends who have flown in from all around the country and the world. We’re going to have a great weekend,” explained the new Miami Open champion.