The second day of quarterfinal action at the Australian Open saw the downfall of the tournament’s top overall seed UFABET. In a sloppy match, world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty fell to 25th seed Karolina Muchova 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Wednesday.
Ashleigh Barty dominated early, her fortunes reversed after Muchova took an injury timeout when down 2-1 in the second set. Muchova won five of the next six games from there, then broke Barty early in the third set and held serve for a stunning comeback win.
That timeout created a fair amount of controversy, with some speculating it rooted more in gamesmanship than a legitimate medical concern. The break at least heralded a tactical shift for Muchova, working to shorten rallies and disrupt Barty’s rhythm.
“Ash started very good, she played almost no mistakes, it was very tough,” Muchova said after the match. “I was a bit lost on the court and my head was spinning, so I took a break. It helped me. I tried to get back, play faster rallies so we don’t play the long ones from the first set. It worked well.”
Muchova had withdrawn from a tournament earlier this month due to an abdominal injury, but she denied that was the reason for this timeout. Instead, she said she treated with ice to cool down.
It’s only the second time this tournament Muchova has erased a significant lead from one of the tournament favorites. She also won seven straight games to stun Karolina Pliskova in the third round. Now, she’ll face the winner of the American showdown between Jennifer Brady and Jessica Pegula.
Tournament to re-open after COVID-19 lockdown
Five days after local COVID-19 outbreaks triggered a snap lockdown in Melbourne and the surrounding area. The Australian Open is set to re-open its doors to fans on Thursday.
The tournament closed its doors after 13 cases of the highly infectious UK strain of the coronavirus discovered at a Holiday Inn near the Melbourne Airport. Since then, 12 more cases have discovered in Melbourne to bring the count up to 25, but no new cases have been discovered in the last 24 hours. Matches played in a bubble format, with players only moving between their places of residence and the tournament grounds.
Spectators will arrive just in time for the semifinals, highlighted by a showdown between Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams.