January 22, 2019,

Unexpected debris in the form of top seeded players is being strewn hither and thither along the pathway to the finals of the 2019 Australian Open championships by an unseeded player who is battling with the full force of a runaway train.

Like a fierce locomotive traveling forward with uncontrollable speed, few saw it coming and thus far no one in her way seems to know what to do about it.

Who would have predicted that America’s 35th WTA ranked player and unseeded entrant into the 2019 Australian open would blast her way into the semi-finals steam rolling higher seeds in her path.

No one predicted this ahead of time.

Danielle Collins soundly defeated Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 2-6, 7-5, 6-1 in the quarters to reach her first major semi-final.

It was the first time that the two players have met.

Anastasia entered the match with ten years of experience including reaching the quarter finals of a Grand Slam four times previously.

Danielle traveled a different pathway to the WTA making the unusual decision to go to college and play tennis there before entering the pros.

She played collegiate tennis at the University of Virginia and won the NCAA singles title twice in 2014 and 2016, during her sophomore and senior years.

Given Danielle’s unexpected run there was great anticipation regarding this match.

Anastasia had previously dispatched of the former 2017 US Open Champion Sloane Stephens 6-7, 6-3, 6-3 where in the final set, she never really seemed threatened so the question becomes can a fast charging, but at least at the pro level, inexperienced Danielle hold up under pressure to a veteran player?

The Russian star is a solid ball striker. Danielle’s strength is her backhand winners. The American has knocked off three seeds to get here.

The two begin slugging it out with powerful ground strokes at a pacing that they couldn’t possibly keep up.

How fierce was it?

A long 18 minutes into the match they were only on the second game. It wasn’t just about hitting clean shots, it was a war of attrition to see who was going to break. There were at least 11 deuce serves.

Finally at the 22 minute mark and 28 points into the game Danielle blinks and Anastasia takes the game and Danielle slams her racquet in anger.

Before you know it, Danielle is down 0-3 and some might begin to wonder that against a veteran player, Danielle is finally feeling overwhelmed.

When you view Anastasia’s resume you can view it at least two ways.

She has essentially been ranked in the top 50 in the last 10 years. She has made it to the quarter finals of every Grand Slam at least once and now twice at the Australian Open. That is a formidable journey woman’s tally. Her victory over Sloane Stephens now doesn’t seem so surprising.

Still, in 10 years why hasn’t she broken through at least once and made it to a Grand Slam semi-final?

At this point in the match against Danielle, she appears to be taking over, even manipulating the younger American with drops shots, frustrating her.

First set to Anastasia as Danielle begins questioning the referee and sprayed a shot to end the set, 6-2 for Anastasia.

Last year was the first full year on the WTA Tour for Danielle. Previously she battled it out on the ITF Circuit.

The less experienced player seems to settle down and now is slowly out hitting Anastasia. Yelling, screaming, prancing around more than Mick Jagger, Danielle gets a break on a drop shot and the match seems to really change her way.

Anastasia is now fighting for her life. She does her own screaming as well.

It’s not enough.

Danielle wins the second set 7-5.

As far as the question of why Anastasia had never made it past the quarters in any slam soon becomes evident. In the third set it is almost as though losing the second set completely deflated her.

She makes a semblance of putting up a fight, perhaps to please a very subdued crowd. In fact, we’ve never seen a crowd so quiet during such a huge match. They are truly barely audible. Perhaps because they really don’t know either player.

Scratch that.

They have to know who Anastasia is since she was in the quarters there before but whatever they saw, they apparently weren’t impressed.

Nor inspired.

Danielle is now beating her into a pulp and to punctuate the victory she lobs a winner over Anastasia’s head that provides Danielle with match point which she makes good on.

Afterwards Danielle let’s out one more scream.

The final set and match goes to the American, 6-1.

Her runaway trains barrels forward. She has now done on her maiden voyage what Anastasia never could in 10 years. She’s made it into the semi-finals of a Grand Slam.

It is the stuff movies are made of.

Runaway Train is a 1985 American independent thriller film directed by Andrei Konchalovsky and starring Jon Voight, Eric Roberts, Rebecca De Mornay and John P. Ryan

fciwomenswrestling.com femcompetitor.com article, The Cannon Group, Inc photo credit

Mr. Voight and Roberts were both nominated for Academy Awards for their respective roles.

The story is a philosophical action thriller about two escaped prisoners who hide on board a train speeding through Alaska. The driver suffers a fatal heart attack and the train races out of control through the icy wilderness.

When you watch the film, though many are aware the locomotive is furiously barreling towards them, once they do, they seem powerless to do anything to stop it.

If fans, including the players, were unaware of Danielle’s potential, they are very aware now. For a fuller story on the American surprise, please read the Femcompetitor Magazine feature on her.

Danielle Collins, Rising American Tennis Star, (Sigh) So Much To

Typically when a train is out of control, picking up speed, terrifying all who cannot get out of its path, the question becomes where is the train headed and more important, can anyone stop it before it collides with the final destination.

Usually the train meets the immovable object or smashes through it and blasts it to pieces.

fciwomenswrestling.com femcompetitor.com article, The Cannon Group, Inc photo credit

Here, will it be the 2018 US Open Champion in Naomi Osaka or the greatest female tennis player of all-time who is more clever and strategic than ever before in Serena Williams? By all rights she could have lost to the current number one player in the world in Simona Halep but finally held her off at the end in a three set slugfest.

Make no mistake about it. Everyone in the tennis world, including the top players, are watching Danielle’s screaming mad runaway train at the 2019 Australian Open, suspecting it is a train ride to a title fight and though they can see and hear it furiously churning towards them, they may be helpless to do anything to stop it.

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Opening photo via ESPN – Sporting News Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)