World number one and home favorite Ash Barty exited this years tournament in somewhat disappointing fashion today.She had the match under control with the first set in the bag at 6-1 against Czech outsider Karolina Muchova. To say the first set was one way traffic would not be simplifying things. Barty was a double break up in no time up 4-0 in the first set. She was hitting winner after winner, held to go 5-0 with Karolina now all but looking for the set to be over so she can start over. Karolina had herself to blame as well missing easy returns in rallies. The second set started with Muchova serving. Barty led 40-0 against Karolina looking to wrap up an easy break. But solid hitting from the Czech who hit the ball right at the base line had Ash making unforced errors. pushing back the score to 40-30. The diminutive Aussie Barty did break to take a commanding 2-0 lead after holding her own serve.
Barty would go on to win just one more game in losing the set 6-3. But why the collapse?Whilst Karolina’s serve was not the quickest but Ash did not know how to cope with a slower serve which bounced the ball higher leading to rudimentary errors. Barty made shocking unforced errors, maybe she buckled under the weight of expectation. Muchova was holding serve more comfortably from 2-2 onward making Barty move more and more. Point of the match. Muchova up 4-3 with Barty serving at deuce. The long rally finished off by Karolina at the net. Great coverage from her cutting the court and angle for Ash to aim at. She deservedly broke to take 5-3 lead which eventually became 6-3 to her. On to the decider we went.
Muchova broke Barty first service game to take a 1-0 lead thanks to good shot variation. The drop shot doing the trick as well. Crucially in the next game Barty failed to break back after a lengthy service game,2-0 Muchova looking good to make the last four. Both players held serve until 4-2 with Barty serving. A weak service game followed in which lady luck abandoned the Aussie(hitting the net cord twice at 30-30) and giving the break with a weak forehand to the net on deuce(Adv Muchova). 5-2 Muchova smelling a last four now. Karolina served it out to win the set and match 6-2 with an ace which was one of only three for her the whole match.