World No.1 Ashleigh Barty crashed out of the quarterfinals of the 2021 Australian Open after a somewhat controversial medical timeout. Barty lost to No.25 seed Karolina Muchova, who took a ten-minute medical timeout in the second set, which drastically altered the course of the match.
After convincingly winning the first set 6-1, Barty broke Muchova’s serve early in the second set and raced to a 2-1 lead. As Barty seemed to be running away with the match, Muchova flipped the momentum by opting for a tactical medical timeout.
The Czech got her pulse and temperature checked before leaving the court for the medical timeout. After returning to the court, Muchova immediately broke her opponent’s serve, with Barty’s unforced errors skyrocketing.
Ashleigh Barty on the game-changing medical timeout
Eventually, Muchova broke Barty’s serve again at 4-3 and pushed the match to the deciding set. Many analysts and former players have cast aspersions over Muchova opting for a medical timeout just to regroup herself.
During the post-match conference, a reporter asked Barty about her thoughts on Muchova’s ten-minute long medical timeout, which changed the course of the quarterfinal. The No.1 seed refrained from using the medical timeout as an excuse for her loss and talked about not knowing whether her opponent had an injury.
The Australian mentioned that Muchova opting for a medical timeout was within the rules for the game, and she found nothing wrong in Muchova’s actions.
“I don’t write the rules. I abide by them. All of us players, we abide by the rules that are written. It’s not my place to comment here whether she had an injury or not. That’s the physios and the doctors. Obviously that she’s taken her medical timeout meant that there was something wrong. She was within the rules, within the guidelines to take that time,” said Barty.
In fact, after winning the match, Muchova admitted the medical timeout wasn’t to treat her pre-existing abdominal strain but just to get her pressure checked since her head was spinning.
Having reached the semifinals of a Grand Slam for the first time, Muchova will face off against Jennifer Brady at the penultimate stage at Melbourne Park. The duo has played only once against each other in the quarterfinals of the 2019 Prague Open, a match which Muchova won in a thrilling three-set battle.