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Australian Open 2022: Who is Danielle Collins’ boyfriend Tom Couch, health issues before Ash Barty final

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Danielle Collins has endured agony because of serious medical issues, but she’s come back from hell with an ex-AFL star by her side.

Danielle Collins is all that stands between Ash Barty and her first Australian Open crown — and the tenacious American will be hoping to disappoint the home crowd on Saturday night.

Collins booked her spot in the final of the year’s first grand slam by overpowering seventh seed Iga Swiatek 6-4 6-1 in the semis and will need to maintain the rage if she’s to topple Barty, who has barely been troubled all tournament.

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The world No. 30’s journey to date has been about so much more than just tennis. She said at Melbourne Park she’s finally feeling herself again after regaining her strength and stamina following surgery in 2021 for endometriosis — a debilitating illness that affects roughly one-in-10 women as tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside the uterus.

“I think I certainly feel a lot freer just not having to deal with the symptoms that I used to deal with, that not being a continuous issue that I’m dealing with on a daily basis,” she said after beating Alize Cornet in the semi-finals.

“I think aside from surgery, I’ve gotten a lot physically stronger over the last couple of years. My strength and conditioning, my fitness, it’s been one of the most important areas of my training and focuses.

“That has transferred over to my tennis, the way that I’m able to play physically with my serving. My stamina on court has improved tremendously. I think just overall power and speed has improved.”

Part of Collins’ physical improvement can be attributed to her work with trainer-turned-boyfriend, Australian Tom Couch. Couch, 33, played three AFL games for Melbourne and is the son of Brownlow Medal winner Paul Couch, a Geelong legend who won the award for the league’s best and fairest player in 1989.

Couch made headlines in 2020 when Collins kicked him out of her player’s box during a match at the French Open, after missing a couple of break point opportunities.

“Sit in a different spot. Sit in a different spot! I’m distracted,” Collins yelled, prompting Couch to scurry away.

“I had my boyfriend move to a different spot because I was distracted by something in front of him,” Collins said after the quarter-final loss to Sofia Kenin.

“I just wanted to be able to look at him from a different location.”

According to reports, Couch started working as Collins’ trainer after they met at the Acapulco Open in Mexico in 2019. Their relationship later became romantic — but it is unknown if they are still together.

Couch has worked with other tennis players during his career, and on Thursday posted a classy message to Aussie champion Dylan Alcott after he lost the Australian Open quad wheelchair final.

Collins has also had to battle rheumatoid arthritis — a chronic condition that causes inflammation and swelling in joints. She started treatment for it in 2019 but her form in Melbourne shows just how high her ceiling is when fully fit — or as close to full fitness as she can ever be.

“I feel like before (surgery for endometriosis) and before I was on proper medication, I was always having to adjust my training around my cycle because of how painful my periods were,” the 28-year-old Florida native told reporters in Melbourne after a win over Elise Mertens in the fourth round.

“And now with things being more consistent, I’m able to kind of train more consistently and not have to have, you know, such drastic changes, especially the week of my cycle.”

Collins, who at one stage last year had to resort to underarm serves because the pain was so severe, said she did not know how her body would respond to the surgery. The results speak for themselves.

“I think any time you’re going to have a surgery like I had, I think any athlete would find it less than ideal and nerve-racking knowing how your body is going to recover after that type of surgery,” she said.

“It’s extremely painful and scary, because there is a lot of important things in life that you learn about during those surgeries.”

Collins said being open about her struggles with endometriosis had allowed others — particularly her peers — to reach out and show their support.

“You know, I had so many other players reach out to me before I had the surgery, during, after,” she recalled. “And, you know, I think that’s one of the nice things about this sport is I think everyone is very competitive, but I think at the end of the day, I think most of the girls get along with each other really well and are really supportive and very good people.”

Nine months on for her endometriosis surgery and Collins has a 32-7 win-loss record, capturing her maiden WTA singles titles last year in Palermo then San Jose.

After making the semi-finals at Melbourne in 2019, she is now in a first slam final and will break into the top 10 for the first time to cap a remarkable comeback.

With AFP

Read related topics:Ash Barty



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