Hamish Blair/Associated Press
After a 6-1 win in the opening set, top-seeded Ash Barty was eliminated from the Australian Open as No. 25 seed Karolina Muchova came back in stunning fashion to move on.
Muchova won the next two sets, 6-3, 6-2, to upend Barty and earn her first Grand Slam semifinal appearance.
Barty was nearing the opportunity to become the first Australian woman to win at the Australian Open since Chris O’Neil’s 1978 title.
Barty held a 5-0 lead in the first set, giving up just six points to Muchova. But the Czech wasn’t feeling her best at the start of the match.
She elected to take an injury timeout in the second set, when medical personnel checked her temperature and blood pressure, per the Associated Press.
“I started feeling a bit lost,” Muchova said. “Ash started very good. She played almost like no mistakes—it was very tough. I was a bit lost on the court and my head was spinning, so I took a break. And it helped me.”
After winning just one of nine games before the injury, Muchova went on to win eight of nine to complete the comeback. Such dramatic wins played a role in helping her advance this far, having rallied to wins after trailing 5-0 and 4-0 in sets earlier in the tournament, per the AP.
Muchova will play the winner of Tuesday night’s matchup between No. 22 Jennifer Brady and unseeded Jessica Pegula, whose parents Terry and Kim Pegula own the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bills.
When she takes the court in the semifinal match later this week, there will be fans in the stands, a feature that was missing for the last five days of competition after the state of Victoria entered a government-mandated lockdown when COVID-19 cases rose.
The restrictions are slated to be lifted Wednesday night and fans can return to the Australian Open on Thursday.