Ashleigh Barty stunned by Karolina Muchova in Australian Open quarterfinals

  • February 17, 2021
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The 24-year-old Czech mounted an amazing comeback to win 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Rod Laver Arena to reach her first career grand slam semifinal.

After her victory, the No. 25 seed said she was fulfilling a childhood dream with her run at the Australian Open.

“I actually have one memory from here when I was a kid and got my first notebook,” Muchova told reporters afterwards.

“I put it as a wallpaper Rod Laver, the stadium. I was just, like, I hope one day it would be nice to play there or to look at the arena or whatever. Now I just won a match and make it to semifinals. It’s amazing.”

READ: Serena Williams overcomes Simona Halep to set up blockbuster Australian Open semifinal with Naomi Osaka
Muchova serves in her match against Barty.

On home turf, it was Barty who perhaps unsurprisingly came out of the blocks fastest, racing into 5-0 lead in just 16 minutes, winning 20 of the first 26 points.

Muchova did at least win a game in that opening set, though she couldn’t find a way to stop the resilient Barty winning the first set.

After Barty extended her lead to 2-0 in the second set, it looked like fans — they will allowed to watch matches from Thursday at the tournament after a Covid-19 “circuit-breaker” five-day lockdown imposed by the Victoria state government comes to an end — would be able to watch their fellow Australian in the semifinal.

However, a near-10-minute medical timeout for Muchova seemed to galvanize the Czech.

“I started feeling a bit lost by the end of the first set. Ash started very good, she played almost like no mistakes, it was very tough. And I was a bit lost on the court, and my head was spinning (with dizziness) so I took a break,” explained Muchova.
Muchova plays a backhand against Barty.

“They just checked my (blood) pressure because I was a bit lost, you know? I was spinning. So they cooled me down a bit with ice, and it helped me.

“(When I returned I) just tried to put a ball in and go for it. Played a bit faster, going to the net. I think that was the key by the end.”

After the break, Barty struggled to regain her rhythm and Muchova took advantage, winning 12 of the final 15 games.

In her post-match press conference, the Australian admitted that she was “frustrated” she allowed the medical break to upset her momentum, but stressed that she wasn’t frustrated with the rules which allowed her opponent to take the break.

“I don’t write the rules. I don’t write the rules. I abide by them. All of us players, we abide by the rules that are written,” Barty said.

“It’s not my place to comment here whether she had an injury or not. That’s the physios and the doctors.

“Obviously that she’s taken her medical timeout meant that there was something wrong. She was within the rules, within the guidelines to take that time.”

World No. 27 Muchova is now 8-0 in 2021 and has made comebacks her trademark style in Melbourne.

She was down 5-0 in the second set against No. 6 seed Karolina Pliskova and was down 4-0 in the first set to No. 18 seed Elise Mertens.

“I felt like I had small windows of opportunity probably midway through the second set and wasn’t able to kind of regroup enough to be clear in the third set how I wanted to play,” Barty said. “I think I just lost my way a little bit, which is disappointing without a doubt.

“I felt like I was in control of the match. I knew how I wanted to go about it, just lost my way a bit.”

Muchova will now face US Open semifinalist Jennifer Brady on Thursday, with the winner set to make their maiden major final.

Brady beat her compatriot Jessica Pegula 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 on Wednesday.
Barty hits a return against Muchova.

Going under the knife

Sofia Kenin’s bid to defend her Australian Open title ended in disappointment last week after she was knocked out of the tournament by world No. 65 Kaia Kanepi.
And in an Instagram post on Thursday, the American revealed she had acute appendicitis and had surgery on Monday, February 15.

“I went to the tournament physician office on Monday, February 15th with acute abdominal pain,” she explained. “I was evaluated by the tournament physician and referred to the hospital for further evaluation. Acute appendicitis was diagnosed following the completion of my CT scan. I had to have surgery and had my appendix removed on Monday, February 15, at Epworth Hospital Richmond. The surgery went well and without any complication. I am now trying to recover from the surgery and deal with the pain.

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“Unfortunately I won’t be able to play a few weeks because I need to take time off to recover so I have withdrawn from my next tournaments. I want to thank everyone at Epworth Hospital Richmond for taking good care of me! Also I would like to thank the medical staff at AO for helping me!

“I can’t wait to fully recover and compete again and see you guys.”





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