Barty led 6-1, 2-1 at one point and looked on course to reach the semifinals at her home Major for the second year in a row. But that was when Muchova took a nearly 10-minute timeout, to receive attention from medical staff.
The Czech player then went on to make a brilliant comeback and win the match 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 to advance to her first Grand Slam semifinal.
The medical time-out, which has been used by some players as a tactic over the years, led to a heated debate among tennis fans and pundits. But after the match Ashleigh Barty refused to get drawn into the discussion, claiming instead that her opponent was well within her rights to take a timeout.
"It’s within the rules. She’s within her rights to take that time. If she wasn’t within the rules, the physios and the doctors would have said so," Ashleigh Barty said. "That’s the laws of our game, is that we have those medical timeouts for cases that are needed. Obviously she needed that today."
Ashleigh Barty went on to add that she has taken timeouts herself in the past, and that she has enough experience to be able to deal with them.
"From my point of view, I’ve played a lot of matches where there have been medical timeouts," Ashleigh Barty said. "I’ve taken medical timeouts myself before, so that shouldn’t be a massive turning point in the match. I was disappointed that I let that become a turning point. I’m experienced enough now to be able to deal with that."
Ashleigh Barty also insisted that it wasn't her place to comment on the nature of Karolina Muchova's problem, asserting that that was best left to the medical staff to opine on.
"I don’t write the rules. I abide by them," the Aussie said. "All of us players, we abide by the rules that are written. It’s not my place to comment here whether she had an injury or not. That’s the physios and the doctors. Obviously that she’s taken her medical time-out meant that there was something wrong. "
Karolina Muchova on her part revealed in her post-match press conference that she felt dizzy on the court, which is why she called for a timeout.
"It (the heat) got to me," Muchova said. "I was feeling kind of dizzy at some point, like really, really lost and almost fainting. So, yeah, I just asked for help."
The sun will come up tomorrow, we go about our work again: Ashleigh Barty
After being away from the court for 11 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ashleigh Barty returned to the tour earlier this month to win the Yarra Valley Classic. The 2019 French Open champion looked impressive this fortnight as well, reaching the last eight without dropping a set and boosting hopes of a home winner at the Australian Open.
But Barty's hopes were dashed on Wednesday, and the 24-year-old called the loss 'heartbreaking'. At the same time, she asserted that she would take the positives out of her good start to the season and continue working with her team on her goals for the rest of the year.
"It’s heartbreaking, of course," Ashleigh Barty said. "But will it deter me, will it ruin the fact we’ve had a really successful start to our season? Absolutely not. The sun will come up tomorrow. We go about our work again. You’re either winning or your learning."
"I think today is a massive learning curve for me, for (my coach), my team as well," Barty added. "We take the positives out of it, without doubt and don’t let this particular match, this particular hour of tennis deter us from what we’re trying to do."