Fixture: (1) Ashleigh Barty vs (25) Karolina Muchova
Date: 17 February 2021
Tournament: Australian Open 2021
Venue: Melbourne, Australia
Category: Grand Slam
Surface: Outdoor Hardcourt
Prize money: AUD $80 million
Live Telecast: USA - Tennis Channel | India - Sony Six
Ashleigh Barty vs Karolina Muchova preview
After starting the new season with the Yarra Valley Classic title, Barty has cruised through each of her matches at the year's first Slam. Following a double bagel against Danka Kovinic, the Aussie has accounted for Daria Gavrilova, Ekaterina Alexandrova and Shelby Rogers to reach the quarters.
Compatriot Gavrilova has been the only player this week to win more than five games in a set against Barty. Apart from that, the former French Open champion has hardly been challenged so far.
Barty has dropped a grand total of 20 games in four rounds, looking increasingly dangerous with each passing day. Even a left thigh strain hasn't managed to impede the Aussie's movement.
Barty has withdrawn from doubles to avoid putting pressure on the affected thigh, and that has proven to be a wise decision. The 24-year-old has been playing freely in singles, and doesn't seem to be in the mood to stop any time soon.
Barty's next opponent, Karolina Muchova, has also caught fire this tournament. The Czech has played with a lot of conviction and hasn't conceded a set so far.
Muchova backed up her third-round upset win over World No. 6 Karolina Pliskova with yet another top performance on Monday. The 25th seed showed the door to the in-form 18th seed Elise Mertens despite trailing 0-4 and then 2-5 in the first set.
Mertens won a title last week and was considered the heavy favorite going into this fourth-round match. But Muchova wore down the Belgian with her court craft, ultimately winning 7-6(5), 7-5.
Ashleigh Barty vs Karolina Muchova head-to-head
Ashleigh Barty leads the head-to-head against Karolina Muchova by a margin of 1-0, having won their solitary meeting at the US Open in 2018. The Aussie put up a sublime performance in New York on her way to a 6-3, 6-4 third-round win.
Ashleigh Barty vs Karolina Muchova prediction
Ashleigh Barty will find her match in Karolina Muchova, given that the two players employ a similar style of play.
Muchova has a solid baseline game and can mix things up with slices and dropshots, much like Barty. Both also frequently look to finish points at the net.
Muchova is coming off two big wins and is riding a huge wave of confidence at the moment. It goes without saying that the Czech will put in her best efforts to upstage the planet's top-ranked player.
But to do that, Muchova will need to play a lot cleaner than she did in the fourth round. A repeat of the 31 unforced errors she made against Mertens won't do her any favors against a player of the caliber of Barty.
Muchova will also need to be razor-sharp on her return, especially against Barty's second serve. But the Aussie's commanding win over Shelby Rogers will have prepared her for any kind of challenge.
Rogers, like Muchova, showed off a potent forecourt game, winning 10 of 13 points at the net. But the home favorite still beat her effortlessly, riding on her strong first serve and variety.
Muchova has the talent to sneak in a set, but that's probably the best she can do against a determined Barty.
Prediction: Ashleigh Barty to win in three sets.