Despite the controversy surrounding her opponent's controversial medical timeout, the brutal truth for Ash Barty is that she has no-one else to blame for her shock Australian Open exit.
Karolina Muchova ensured that the wait for a home-grown Australian Open champion will extend to 44 long years, knocking out Barty in the quarter-finals on Wednesday.
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The Czech player's win was largely overshadowed by a controversial timeout she took in the second set, re-emerging a completely different player and leaving Barty with no answers.
While many accused Muchova of using the timeout as a tactic to break Barty's momentum, the overriding feeling among fans, commentators and even Barty herself was that she should have been good enough to overcome it.
"It's within the rules. She's within her rights to take that time," Barty said.
"If she wasn't within the rules, the physios and the doctors would have said so.
"That's the laws of our game, that we have those medical time-outs for cases that are needed. Obviously she needed that today."
Tournament director Paul McNamee also said Barty had no-one else to blame.
“This is a shock. Ash Barty went from complete dominance to completely losing her way and unable to make basic shots," he tweeted.
“There must be a reason as she’s far too good a player. For now, it’s a complete mystery.”
Sports reporter Marc McGowan tweeted: “Let’s stop blaming the MTO for why Ash Barty lost. She had mid-match lapses throughout #AusOpen and Yarra Valley Classic.
"This time, Barty didn’t recover. She’s a gem, but she was ordinary after the MTO. It happens.”
NRL commentator Dan Ginnane suggested: “Barty choked”.
“The world number 1 has to be above a dodgy tactic. She had a bad day. It happens. Let’s not do the small person thing and make excuses.”
Tennis writer Ricky Dimon added: “The amount of bad takes on Muchova’s medical time-out is even more nauseating than Barty’s level of play throughout the final two sets.
“It’s not Muchova’s fault that Barty couldn’t handle a normal medical time-out. Happens all the time.”
While broadcaster Shane McInnes said Barty should have been better.
“Medical time-out debate aside, Barty played poorly from midway through the second set,” he tweeted.
“Her unforced errors went through the roof, and Karolina Muchova was clearly able to capitalise.”
While some fans went as far as accusing Muchova of cheating and described the tactic as 'disgrace', others agreed that Barty simply wasn't good enough.
Lol. Barty is world no1. She had time and should overcome that situation. She has herself to blame
— Huutung Nguyen (@HuutungN) February 17, 2021
Barty has herself to blame here, sure. She dropped of a cliff and never tried to climb back up. It was hard to watch. But as someone who would also struggle with such an obvious tactical stoppage I do feel for her. I was never in her league at anything and she needed to overcome
— Nicholas James (@ArchiveNJ) February 17, 2021
If an MTO or bathroom break will disrupt your rhythm then you are just not good enough. Barty is a true champion https://t.co/Nsi1XcgMUJ
— Oga Joe (@breezy_Xcoba) February 17, 2021
If Barty was good enough she'd still have won, hasn't played anyone of note in this tournament and overseas players have been affected by quarantine etc. . Its the media crying about it, not Barty herself.
— Brian D. (@BrianDqpr) February 17, 2021
Correct. Barty not good enough!!
— yoland lim (@yolandlim) February 17, 2021
Ash Barty accepts blame for defeat
Barty capitulated from a set and a service break up in a shock 1-6 6-3 6-2 quarter-final loss on Wednesday.
The World No.1 never recovered after losing nine out of 11 games after the 27th-ranked Muchova took her time-out while trailing the top seed 6-1 2-1 on Rod Laver Laver Arena.
Muchova later admitted she wasn't injured.
"I was a bit lost on the court and my head was spinning so I took a break and it helped me," she said.
"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."
Rather than look for excuses, Barty frankly fessed up to not handling the break well enough.
"I've played a lot of matches where there have been medical time-outs. I've taken medical time-outs myself before, so that shouldn't be a massive turning point in the match," she said.
"I was disappointed that I let that become a turning point. I'm experienced enough now to be able to deal with that.
"I lost my way a little bit there in the second set, midway through, kind of lost that momentum that I built."
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