Wednesday, 24 February, 2021


World No.1 Ash Barty crashes out of Australian Open

Australian Open Jennifer Brady rallies to beat Jessica Pegula reach second Grand Slam semi-final BRANDON MALONE AFP
Kristine Garrett | 17 February, 2021, 11:07

Muchova's 1-6, 6-3 and 6-2 victory sets up a semifinal against the victor of the all American clash between 22nd seed Jennifer Brady and the unseeded Jessica Pegula. She breezed through the tournament up to this point, and this was the first match she played that went to three sets. Up a break at 2-1 in the second set, the end was in sight when Muchova took a medical time out after not feeling well.

"In the beginning of the match I felt the pressure from her", Brady said after the win.

Not letting up, Barty broke Muchova for a third time in the opening game of the second set to continue her utter domination.

Last year's Australian Open champion, Sofia Kenin, says she had her appendix removed this week.

Muchova's post-match admission generated some degree of controversy, however Barty was quick to brush off any suggestion the break in play had lead to her shock collapse. She said her head was spinning, and medical personnel took her pulse and temperature before she left the court.

However, Muchová took a nine minute medical timeout after the first set - before staging a comeback to gain full control to win the second set 6-4 and clinched the decider 6-2. The Czech then served out the match - securing her first semifinal berth at a Grand Slam.

That 10-minute pause in the match proved to be the catalyst for a stunning turnaround, and one which will likely haunt Barty for some time.

In the men's draw, Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev contest an all-Russian quarter-final and Rafael Nadal, targeting a record 21st Grand Slam title, plays Stefanos Tsitsipas in the night match.

The canned applause piped into the arena in the absence of fans appeared to taunt Barty, who would have been guaranteed passionate support for her semifinal had she made it through after Melbourne's coronavirus lockdown was lifted. "She's such an aggressive player", added Brady, who hit 22 winners and seven aces.

The second set was pocketed by Muchova in 52 minutes and when she managed to break Barty in the first game of the deciding set, the look of concern on the Australian's face only grew more obvious.

"It's heartbreaking, of course", Barty said. "They cooled me down a bit and it helped me".

"If she wasn't within the rules, the physios and the doctors would have said so".

"I was disappointed that I let that become a turning point". "But we go through everything and learn through all of these experiences".

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