Karolina Muchova upsets world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty to reach Australian Open semifinals


Top-ranked Ash Barty has been upset by No. 25-seeded Karolina Muchova in the quarterfinals at the Australian Open, 1-6, 6-3, 6-2.

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.

Early in the second set, Muchova took an injury timeout that lasted nearly 10 minutes. She said her head was spinning, and medical personnel took her pulse and temperature before she left the court. When she returned, she played much better.

Muchova’s opponent Thursday will be the winner of the last quarterfinal, an all-American matchup between No. 22-seeded Jennifer Brady and unseeded Jessica Pegula.

WATCH | Muchova tops Barty in quarter-finals:

Karolina Muchova of Czech Republic defeats world No. 1 Ash Barty 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open. 1:18

Crowds to return Thursday

The Australian Open will be able to open its gates to fans for the last four days of the tournament after the state of Victoria announced that a snap coronavirus lockdown would be lifted at midnight on Wednesday.

Victoria State Premier Dan Andrews announced the lifting of the lockdown but said the crowds allowed into Melbourne Park for the semi-finals and finals of the Grand Slam might be reduced from the originally agreed 25,000 a day.

“There will be meeting early this afternoon … where we go through and work through exactly what is a safe number and that decision will be made as soon as possible,” Andrews told reporters.

“They were already reduced, they may have to be reduced a little bit further, but that matter will be resolved in the next few hours.”

Tournament organizers said they expected crowds would be back on Thursday and would make a full statement later on Wednesday after the details were worked out.

Fans were shut out of the precincts of Melbourne Park from last Saturday after a small outbreak in the city of the COVID-19 variant associated with Britain. The state reported no locally acquired coronavirus cases on Wednesday.

Tournament organizers will be desperate for fans to return after spending a huge amount of money to get the tournament up and running, including some A$40 million ($31 million) on putting players through 14 days of quarantine.

Tickets were already available for purchase online on Wednesday morning ahead of the government’s announcement, with some seats for Sunday’s men’s final at Rod Laver Arena still available at A$550 each.

“I assume people have bought those tickets, they assume there would be some risk involved in that given that I have only made these announcements now,” Andrews added.

“We’re going to finish up with crowds in lots of different places. We’re going to finish up with people being able to move freely because this short and sharp circuit-breaker lockdown has worked.”

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