Ashleigh Barty (left) had beaten Karolina Muchova at her last Grand Slam meeting at the 2018 US Open
Karolina Muchova fought back at the Australian Open to stun Ashleigh Barty, number 1 in the world, and reach her first Grand Slam semi-final.
The Czech 25th seed struggled with dizziness in the heat of Melbourne Park but, after a medical break, focused again on beating the home favorites 1: 6: 6: 3: 6: 2.
Barty led with a set and a break, but couldn’t stop Muchova’s comeback.
Muchova will fight for a place in the final against American Jennifer Brady, who defeated compatriot Jessica Pegula.
“It was very tough and I was a bit lost on the pitch and my head was spinning, so I took a break,” said Muchova.
“It helped me. I tried to come back, played a bit faster rallies so we wouldn’t play the long ones like in the first set and it worked well.”
US Open semi-finalist Brady defeated Pegula 4: 6, 6: 2, 6: 1.
Muchova beats Heat & Barty
Karolina Muchova said her head turned as she fought on the square
Barty, who played in her first Grand Slam in over a year after deciding not to travel, hadn’t dropped a sentence on her way to the quarter-finals.
She used the stubborn goal of the 24-year-olds to get the first set in 25 minutes and broke her opponent at the first opportunity in the second.
A visibly struggling Muchova then called on the doctor, who took her off the court to take her blood pressure and get a full break.
On his return to the field, Muchova fell back and won five of the last six games to force a decisive set.
Barty had her chances in the third set, racking up two breakpoints after losing her own serve and three more when Muchova served for the match.
But the number 27 in the world held on to reach their first slam semi-final.
Refusing to blame Muchova’s medical break as the reason for her defeat, Barty stated, “It’s not my job to comment on whether or not she’s had an injury.
“If she hadn’t followed the rules, the physiotherapists and doctors would have said so. Those are the laws of our game. We have these medical timeouts for cases that are needed.”
Brady wins the all-American battle
Jennifer Brady’s breakthrough came in 2017 at the Australian Open, where she qualified for the fourth round
Brady was one of 72 players who were unable to leave their hotel room for 14 days upon arriving in Australia.
She served for the first set against her good friend Pegula, but a double mistake put a strain on her nerves.
Brady struck back, however, using the 22nd seed to win nine of the last 10 games to reach their second career slam semi-finals.
A strong server, Brady hit seven aces and 22 winners and leveled up as Pegula faded and ended the match with 39 easy mistakes.
“We are such good friends. I know we will have a lot more tough fights,” said Brady of Pegula.
“I felt the pressure from her. She’s such an aggressive player.”