Australian Open 2021: Karolina Muchova stuns Ashleigh Barty in quarter-finals; Jennifer Brady reaches semi-finals


Melbourne: Jennifer Brady has reached her second Grand Slam semi-final in a row by beating fellow American and good friend Jessica Pegula 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 at the Australian Open.

Brady’s opponent on Thursday will be Karolina Muchova. The No 25 seed rallied past No 1 Ashleigh Barty. The United States will have a semi-finalist in the women’s draw at Melbourne for the 11th year in a row.

The No 22-seeded Brady struggled at times and gave her racket an angry toss midway through the second set. The unseeded Pegula, who advanced beyond the third round at a major for the first time, appeared to tire down the stretch.

Brady is a former UCLA star. She reached her first major semifinal at the US Open in September.

Muchova stuns Barty

Top-ranked Barty lost 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 to Muchova in the quarter-finals.

Muchova earned her first semifinal berth in a Grand Slam, and her comeback win ended Barty’s bid to become the first Australian woman to win the title in Melbourne since Chris O’Neil in 1978.

Muchova played poorly at the start of her second major quarter-final, and Barty raced to a 5-0 lead while losing only six points. After nine games, Muchova had one winner and 18 unforced errors.

Early in the second set, Muchova took an injury timeout that lasted nearly 10 minutes. Medical personnel took her pulse and temperature before she left the court, and when the Czech returned, she played much better.

Comebacks have been a staple in the tournament for Muchova, who rallied in earlier matches to win sets after trailing 5-0 and 4-0.

Against Barty, she began moving into the court to hit her groundstrokes earlier. Barty, pushed behind the baseline, became indecisive and erratic.

During one stretch Muchova won eight of nine games. Barty finished with 37 unforced errors and lost serve four times in the final two sets.

Muchova’s only other victory over a top-five was against No 3 Karolina Pliskova at Wimbledon in 2019.

Times2 Desk
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