Ashleigh Barty, the world No.1, may have failed in her bid to be the first Australian champion in 43 years to win year’s first slam, but she certainly revealed the sporting side to her in the post-match press conference.
Karolina Muchova, the Czech 25th seed who toppled her, looked down and out after losing the first set 6-1 and took a medical timeout which changed the course of the quarter final. Muchova took the break because her ‘‘head was spinning,’’ and the nearly 10-minute break broke the momentum of Barty as the former came back to win 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.
‘‘That’s within the rules,” a crestfallen Barty said later, refusing to blame her lower ranked opponent for trying to disturb her rhythm.
Barty said it was not for her to pass judgement on her opponent’s actions. “When you call for the trainer, you obviously tell the umpire what the reason is,” said the world number one.
“And then the doctor and physios come out and assess it. That’s within the rules,” said Barty.
“Obviously there are rules when we go off the court for whatever areas you’re getting treated because that’s quite normal.
“But that’s not really my decision to make on whether or what her medical condition was or what the timeout was for.”
Muchova, down 1-2 in the second set at the time, broke Barty immediately after the timeout then earned another to take the set. “I was disappointed that I let that become a turning point,” said Barty, who was bidding to become the first home winner since Chris O’Neil in 1978.
“I’m experienced anough now to be able to deal with that. I would have liked to have just been a little bit sharper the next game.”
The Australian’s error count began mounting as Muchova surged into her first ever Grand Slam semi-final.
“Probably pressed a little bit trying to be overly aggressive,” she admitted.
Barty had enjoyed a great start to the season after not playing for almost 12 months because of coronavirus, winning a pre-Australian Open warm-up Yarra Valley Classic at Melbourne Park and not dropping a set in the first four rounds of the Australian Open.
“Yeah, it’s heartbreaking, of course,” she said.
“But will it deter me, will it ruin the fact we’ve had a really successful start to our season? Absolutely not.”