US Open outfit change causes fury as angry opponent vents at umpire

Sorana Cirstea fumed at the chair umpire as Karolina Muchova left her opponent waiting on the court between sets during their US Open quarter-final match. The World No. 10 was off the court for some considerable time while inside the bowels of Arthur Ashe Stadium before belatedly returning, apparently after a change of shirt. 

Muchova, 27, took an extended break from play soon after winning the opening set 6-0. But the scoreline does not show how hard-fought the games were.

Temperatures in New York were also in the low 90s. Both players were fighting through the high humidity in Flushing Meadows.

That was until Muchova made a beeline off of center court. Romania’s Cirstea did not appreciate the delay after realizing her opponent had yet to return.

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Turning to the chair umpire, she said: “I am the one waiting for her to serve,” Cirstea said during an exchange. “I don’t understand what you want from me.”

Former pro-turned-pundit Jelena Dokic, who now works on Channel 9’s coverage, openly questioned the stoppage. She suggested that the decision to leave for an outfit change was an odd one at that stage in the match. 

“She went for a change of shirt, and usually you don’t do that when you’ve got the momentum,” the former World No.4 claimed. “Not only the momentum, but she won 6-0.”

Upon the Czech player’s return, Cirstea channeled her emotion into winning the first two games. However, Muchova broke her serve in the third and went on to win five out of the next six to prevail 6-3 and take a straight-sets victory.

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Her semi-final opponent, Coco Gauff, will no doubt be wary that something similar could happen in their final four match. That is because Muchova has a history of questionable breaks in play.

Two years ago at the Australian Open, she took a medical timeout after finding herself a set down to Ash Barty. Despite dropping the opener 6-1, she would rally following the stoppage to take the second and third sets.

After the win, Muchova addressed the incident. “I was a bit lost on the court, and my head was spinning, so I took a break, and it helped me,” she said at the time.

“I started feeling a bit lost by the end of the first set. Ash started very good. She played like no mistakes. It was very tough.”

The Czech player then admitted to reporters that there was indeed no injury. “It was more they just checked my pressure because, like I said, I was a bit lost. I was spinning. So they cooled me down a bit with ice, and it helped me.”

A similar situation happened earlier in the week at this tournament in the men’s draw. The 2021 champion Daniil Medvedev left the Louis Armstrong Stadium court for around 20 minutes after losing the first set of his round of 16 match 6-2 against Australia’s Alex de Minaur before bouncing back to win three straight.

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