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Danielle Collins, Simona Halep book Australian Open second week alongside birthday girl Cornet
Collins and Cornet had to rally from a set down while Halep continued her dominant streak in Melbourne.
Published Jan 22, 2022
WATCH: Collins addressed the crowd after reaching her first major fourth round since 2020.
The opening week of the 2022 Australian Open is coming to a close, but not before a slew of exciting third-round clashes get underway on Saturday in Melbourne. Former world No. 1 Simona Halep was the first winner of the afternoon, extending her win streak to eight in a row—seven in straight sets—to reach a fifth straight fourth round Down Under.
American hope Danielle Collins and Alizé “Don’t Call Me A Veteran” Cornet joined her in the second week soon after each edged through three-set epics against Clara Tauson and Tamara Zidansek, respectively.
Here’s how they did it:
 Simona Halep def. Danka Kovinic, 6-2, 6-1
Simona Halep was arguably at her career zenith to start the 2020 season, only for the global pandemic to derail her in ways few could have imagined in the wake of her 20th career title in Dubai—a mere weeks before the tour lockdown.
Injuries have hounded Halep since, forcing her out of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon, but where some saw her exiting the sport to start a family—hastened by a September wedding to longtime partner Toni Iuruc—the two-time major champion doubled down on her playing prospects, soldiering through a busy fall swing that seemingly set her up for this undefeated start to 2022.
She captured her 23rd career title two weeks ago on these very courts in Melbourne Park and has looked strong with each match through the fortnight proper, dropping 12 total games through three rounds.
Kovinic is enjoying a resurgence of her own; the former Top 50 player was fresh off a thrilling win over reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the previous round to secure her best-ever Grand Slam finish.
Where Raducanu struggled with blisters and the same consistency that took her to major glory in New York, Halep was significantly more dialed in from the start, breaking serve three times and striking an even 10 winners to 10 errors to outgun the Montenegran in the opening set.
The second set hinged on a marathon fifth game, one that saw Kovinic save three break points across five deuces. Halep was unmoved, and ultimately continued her march to victory with another two breaks of serve to roll into the second week after 64 minutes.
Standing between the 2018 finalist and a sixth Australian Open quarterfinal will be sentimental favorite Alizé Cornet, who celebrated her 32nd birthday with a first trip into the fourth round in Melbourne since 2009.
Cornet had just turned 20 years old and was within reach of a Top 10 debut at the time; leading future No. 1 Dinara Safina 5-2 in the final set, two match points went begging and Cornet’s 13-year quest for a major quarterfinal began.
Playing her 60th consecutive major tournament—two shy of tying the Open Era record—Cornet began this week with a big upset over WTA Finals champ Garbiñe Muguruza, but found herself in dire straits against 2021 Roland Garros semifinalist Tamara Zidansek.
From a set and a double break down, Cornet turned it around for a 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 triumph after two hours and 43 minutes.
Cornet owns a surprising 3-1 head-to-head advantage over Halep, though the two haven’t met since her 2015 upset over the Romanian at the Mutua Madrid Open—her most recent Top 3 victory before beating Muguruza on Thursday.
 Danielle Collins def. Clara Tauson, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5
Danielle Collins rounds out a quartet of Americans into the second week of the Australian Open, and is the only one in the bottom half of the draw after Amanda Anisimova, Jessica Pegula, and Madison Keys all advanced on Friday.
She very nearly missed the bus when she fell behind a set and a break to an on-fire Clara Tauson, who cooled off No. 6 seed Anett Kontaveit in the previous round.
A former junior champion, Tauson was looking to make a major splash in Melbourne after near-misses in Paris and New York last year; buoyed by title runs at smaller events, the Danish teenager arrived at the tournament fit and ready for a breakthrough when she reeled off five straight games in the first set and moved within two games of victory in the second set.
Collins, who roared into the last four Down Under in 2019, relied on her wealth of experience to pull off a comeback of her own, and shook off some audacious shotmaking from Tauson when it came time for match points in the final set’s tenth game.
The 28-year-old made no mistakes two games later and secured her first major second week since the 2020 French Open, where she reached the quarterfinals.
Up next for Collins is 2018 Australian Open semifinalist Elise Mertens, who dispatched China’s Zhang Shuai in straight sets.