Barty’s Open ruined by devious tactic

A tactical medical time-out by Ash Barty’s opponent Karolina Muchova flipped their Australian Open quarterfinal on its head as hopes of a first home winner in 43 years ended in controversy.

Barty has been knocked out of the tournament after a devastating 1-6 6-3 6-2 defeat in the opening match on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday.

The world number one was steam-rolling her way into the semis up 6-1 and a break in the second set when Muchova opted for the devious move that is all too common in tennis.

At 2-1 down in the second set, Muchova asked for her neck and wrist to be examined by a pair of trainers before she exited the court for a medical time-out.

The No. 25 seed emerged from the changerooms nine minutes later, and seemed like a different player when she returned to the court, immediately mustering her first break to put the set back on serve.

Muchova gave an unconvincing answer when asked if she’d taken the time-out to have a pre-existing injury treated.

“I was a bit lost (gestures to head) on the court and my head was spinning so I took a break,” she said. “It was more they just checked my pressure because I was a bit lost. I was spinning. So they cooled me down a bit with ice and it helped me.”

The MTO as a tool

Muchova has turned the match on its head after taking a nine minute break with Barty in complete control

1-6 6-3 #AusOpen

Tennis players take note: if you’re getting thrashed and “feeling lost,” just take a 10 minute medical break.
All within the rules apparently.
Devastating loss for Ash Barty. #AusOpen

Barty was ordinary and made too many errors under pressure, but maybe it’s time tennis looked at these “medical timeouts”. They’re too often only used to break the momentum of an opponent. #AusOpen

Barty’s unforced error count skyrocketed once her momentum was broken. After winning eight of the first nine games of the match, she promptly lost eight of the next nine to drop the second set 6-3 and fall behind a double break in the third.


Barty — seven winners, seven unforced errors

Muchova — one winners, 18 unforced errors


Barty — seven winners, 15 unforced errors

Muchova — eight winners, four unforced errors

Time for Ash Barty to find a reason for an injury timeout. #AusOpen

What the hell happened during that medical time out!? Come on Ash!! #AusOpen

Former English tennis player Sam Smith said in commentary the medical time-out had “made a big difference”.

“I think a lot has changed in this second set in terms of the medical time-out, slowing the game down,” she said. “All in the fairness of the game, but those little things have definitely made a difference here in this second.”

American commentator Jim Courier said: “I tell you what, if I’m ever having a bad day, I’m calling that WTA trainer to help. Miracle worker.

“It’s incredible. Before the medical time-out, look how dominant Barty was across the board. The short points, mid points, long points, sweeping almost all of them. Afterwards, it’s flipped. Complete flippage.”

American tennis great Pam Shriver was uncomfortable with the turnaround.

“The MTO by Muchova at 1-6 1-2, a break down seemed legit, but it still does not sit well when it pivots a match on a dime,” she tweeted. “Muchova has won 7 of 8 games since leaving the court. Thoughts anyone?”

Ash Barty’s Australian Open is over. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)Source:AFP

Under current WTA rules, a player is allowed to take a medical timeout if they are experiencing dizziness.

New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey tweeted: “If a sport wants to allow players to take a break because they are a bit lost on the court, let’s just allow them one timeout per match. Stop calling it a medical timeout.”

Herald Sun reporter Jon Ralph posted: “I am going to get really angry at that disgraceful medical timeout which is clearly a rort and an embarrassment to tennis so it distracts me from the fact Ash was very ordinary after the first set. Might never have a better chance to win her home slam.”

Barty got off to a flyer on Rod Laver Arena, making one unforced error in the first five games before clinching the opening set in 24 minutes.

Meanwhile, Muchova made 13 unforced errors and hit just one winner in the first set.

The second set started in similar fashion, with Barty immediately breaking serve before Muchova was examined by the trainers.

Karolina Muchova receives treatment. (Photo by Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)Source:Getty Images

Muchova wipes sweat from her eyes. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)Source:AFP

The Czech player was unstoppable from that point, charging to the second set before securing a double break in the second set and serving out the match.

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