Melbourne, Australia, 17 February 2021 | Leigh Rogers

Ash Barty’s Australian Open 2021 campaign is over.

The world No.1 could not sustain a brilliant start in her quarterfinal at Rod Laver Arena today, with Czech No.25 seed Karolina Muchova fighting back to record a 1-6 6-3 6-2 victory.

Barty made an almost-perfect start to their quarterfinal match, racing through the opening set in 24 minutes. The Australian was playing measured tennis, conceding only 11 points.

Muchova, who was contesting her second major quarterfinal, committed 13 unforced errors in the opening set. The 24-year-old Czech, who is widely regarded for her variety and ability to switch up pace, was being outclassed at her own game.

Barty continued to dominate early in the second set, breaking the world No.27 in the opening game.

Trailing 1-2, a tearful Muchova went off court for a medical timeout. It proved a momentum changer, with Barty broken for the first time in the following game.

Unforced errors quickly become Barty’s undoing, with the Australian recording 19 to the Czech’s nine in the second set.

“I felt like I was in control of the match. I knew how I wanted to go about it, just lost my way a bit,” Barty said.

The deciding set did not start well for Barty, who was broken in the opening game. The world No.1 earned two break points on Muchova’s serve in the next game, but was unable to convert.

It was the story of the match – Barty was close, but not quite close enough.

“At times today I had the right balls, I just overplayed, I pressed a little bit too much, gave up too many cheap errors at some pretty critical times,” Barty conceded.

Muchova closed out victory in one hour and 57 minutes to advance to her first Grand Slam semifinal, where she will play No.22-seeded American Jennifer Brady.

It is a disappointing exit for Barty, who finished the match with 37 unforced errors and lost 12 of the final 15 games – however, it has still been a remarkable summer for the returning 24-year-old.

Following an 11-month break from the tour, Barty won her ninth career WTA title at the Melbourne Summer Series and entered today’s match on an eight-match winning streak. She also became the first Australian woman to reach three consecutive singles quarterfinals at the Australian Open since Wendy Turnbull in 1984.

“It’s heartbreaking, of course. But will it deter me, will it ruin the fact we’ve had a really successful start to our season? Absolutely not,” Barty said.

“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.”