The top-seeded Ashleigh Barty, who represented her country’s best chance for a homegrown Australian Open champion, lost in the quarterfinals on Wednesday, falling 1-6, 6-3, 6-2, to the 25th-seeded Karolina Muchova of the Czech Republic.
Barty began the match in dominant form, leading Muchova by a set and a break at 6-1, 2-0 at Rod Laver Arena. Muchova took an off-court medical timeout early in the second set, with doctors checking her vital signs and cooling her down with ice.
“My head was spinning, so I took a break,” Muchova said in her on-court interview after the match. After Muchova returned to the court, Barty became inconsistent. At 2-1, she hit four unforced errors to drop her serve and level the second set. She finished with 19 unforced errors in the second set, after having only six in the first. As Barty faltered, Muchova played with increasing poise and patience, exemplified by one rally in the second set in which she hit five overhead smashes before Barty finally made an error. Barty’s focus continued to drift in the third set. She made many errors on shots that should have been simple, not adjusting well to Muchova’s changes of pace. Barty seemed to regain her concentration in the final game, earning three break points, but she could not convert any of them.
Muchova closed out the victory with an ace on her first match point. Muchova, a rare player who can match Barty’s all-court play and versatility, was playing in her second Grand Slam quarterfinal after making it to that round at Wimbledon in 2019.