Muchova beats heat to become Barty pooper

Australia's Ashleigh Barty is dejected after losing to Czech Karolina Muchova (above) yesterday in the Australian Open quarter-finals in Melbourne.
Australia's Ashleigh Barty (above) is dejected after losing to Czech Karolina Muchova yesterday in the Australian Open quarter-finals in Melbourne.PHOTO: REUTERS
Australia's Ashleigh Barty is dejected after losing to Czech Karolina Muchova (above) yesterday in the Australian Open quarter-finals in Melbourne.
Australia's Ashleigh Barty is dejected after losing to Czech Karolina Muchova (above) yesterday in the Australian Open quarter-finals in Melbourne.PHOTO: REUTERS

MELBOURNE • Karolina Muchova said she was living a dream after staging a stunning comeback to upset top seed Ashleigh Barty yesterday to storm into the Australian Open semi-finals.

The Czech looked on her way out after the home favourite raced through the opening set.

But after a medical timeout, Muchova won 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, as Barty crumbled in her attempt to become her nation's first Australian Open women's singles champion since Chris O'Neil 43 years ago.

The 25th seed will face Jennifer Brady for a place in Saturday's final after she beat fellow American Jessica Pegula 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 yesterday.

"I think it's a goal you're setting up when you're playing tennis. For me, at least, it's the Majors, the Grand Slams, to go far," said Muchova, whose best previous Grand Slam result was the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2019. "For me to be in semi-finals, it's like a dream."

The tide turned after the timeout, with Barty losing momentum. Muchova, who is unbeaten this season with a 8-0 record, said she felt dizzy and needed a break.

"I think it was bit of the heat. I was feeling like really, really lost and almost fainting," she said.

"Definitely they cooled me down with the ice. Doctor checked my pressure, my temperature."

Barty, the 2019 French Open champion, had made a flying start to her year, winning the Yarra Valley Classic, and like Muchova, had not lost a set here before their clash.

On the untimely break, she said it was not her place to judge her opponent.

"When you call for the trainer, you obviously tell the umpire what the reason is," she said. "And then the doctor and physios assess it. That's within the rules.

"I was disappointed that I let that become a turning point."

At world No. 24, Brady is ranked three places higher than Muchova.

The US Open 2020 semi-finalist will draw confidence from her time undergoing hard quarantine.

She is the only player left out of the group of 72 who were confined strictly to their hotel rooms and unable to practise due to positive Covid-19 cases on board their chartered flights to Melbourne.

Instead of complaining on social media, Brady used the time for self-reflection, saying: "I used that two weeks to kind of reset mentally and also physically."

On Muchova, she added: "She's crafty, looks to move forward and has an all-court game. She's really athletic."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 18, 2021, with the headline 'Muchova beats heat to become Barty pooper'. Subscribe