Ashleigh Barty’s quest for a maiden Australian Open title hit the rocks on Wednesday after a quarter-final loss to Karolina Muchova 1-6 6-3 6-2 on Wednesday.
Barty, who took the first set convincingly, was not able to regroup after her opponent took a medical timeout following just a 24-minute set in the Australian’s favour.
The medical timeout would prove to be the catalyst for the Czech to wrestle back some momentum and, after she levelled, a catalogue of unforced errors saw Barty’s hopes of a title on home soil end.
For Muchova her remarkable form at this tournament continues, with Karolina Pliskova and Elise Mertens already dispatched, but this victory tops the lot and seals a first appearance at the last four of a grand slam.
“I started to feel a bit lost at the end of the first set,” the 24-year-old said after the match. “My head was spinning so I took a break and it helped me. I tried to get back and play a bit faster and it worked well.
“They checked my [blood] pressure, I was a bit lost and spinning. They cooled me down with ice and it helped me.”
Barty refused to be drawn into a debate about the break in play, when she attended her post-match press conference.
“If she wasn’t within the rules, the physios and the doctors would have said so,” insisted Barty.
“That’s the laws of our game, is that we have those medical timeouts for cases that are needed. Obviously she needed that today, [it’s] completely within the rules for her to take that.
“From my point of view, I’ve played a lot of matches where there have been medical timeouts. I’ve taken medical timeouts myself before, so that shouldn’t be a massive turning point in the match.”