Australian tennis legend Todd Woodbridge has urged the WTA and ITF to tighten rules on medical time off after Ash Barty’s Australian open quarter-finals have been turned upside down by a long pause

Barty cruised against her Czech opponent Karolina Muchova, made a jump and a break, and seemed to be on her way to a date with her doubles partner Jennifer Brady in one of today’s semifinals when Muchova demanded a coach and almost stopped the game 10 minutes

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The break completely changed the complexion of the game Muchova took control almost immediately when the game resumed He derailed a “runaway train” and broke twice to win the second set after taking a 1-2 break after a break

While Woodbridge criticized Barty’s inability to get the match back on her terms after losing momentum, he argued that she should never have been transferred to that position

“I think it’s long been an issue where players have used the rules to their advantage,” Woodbridge told Wide World of Sports

“I think we should know what the medical time off was taken for, and we are usually not told

“And because we don’t know, it opens a box of Pandora’s conspiracy theories. But when is an injury clearly an injury, and how long can you stay away to change the swing

“Because today’s game has clearly changed the dynamics and that is not in the sense of the rules”

Muchova came into play with a question mark about her fitness after struggling with an abdominal strain in her fourth round against Elise Mertens

Nonetheless, in her interview in court immediately after the game, she confirmed that it was not the abdominal injury she was being treated for and made it clear that she was “lost”, most likely due to the warm conditions

“They just checked my [blood pressure] and because I was a bit lost I was spinning so they cooled me down a bit with ice and it helped,” Muchova said

What Muchova did was clearly within the rules, but the conversation quickly went to whether it should or not

American tennis legend Pam Shriver tweeted during the game, saying a medical break like Muchovas “doesn’t sit well when a match is turned down to a dime” The US top coach and analyst Brad Gilbert also called the time-out rule “ridiculous”

Barty graciously said players could only “obey the rules” since they didn’t write them, but Woodbridge called for an overhaul of the medical time-out system to prevent them from unduly affecting the results of the games

“It is the responsibility of the WTA and the ITF to come up with a better, tighter process that may limit the time you have,” said Woodbridge

“At the moment you can judge first and then there is an injury pause, so it sometimes takes 10-15 minutes

“This is obviously too long in terms of the fairness and dynamics of the game if it is not legitimate. Sometimes it is legitimate, we saw this (only) occasionally during the tournament. But it needs to be monitored much more closely”

Like many other commentators, Woodbridge would only go so far as to blame the crucial medical break for Barty’s death

He said the second and third movements reminded him of a younger Barty who played games against her at times with no clear signs of gear shift or tactical change

“Ash is the # 1 player in the world you really should have handled it,” said Woodbridge

“What happened next was she couldn’t stop the momentum the other way, and that was a bit to me of what we knew about a younger Ashes before she reached those heights

However, he added that it was only natural that Barty would have rusted from a matchplay standpoint as she had a 50-week dismissal from the competition before starting again earlier this month to win the Yarra Valley Classic

“It is very, very difficult for someone to stand up to the highest levels at the end of massive tournaments below these expectations if it isn’t so instinctive,” he said

“She’s still responding because she hasn’t played 50 games in the season, but only nine so it’s important to keep playing and for those big moments it all gets interesting to the bank and you do things instinctively right and don’t even think about it

“I think [against Muchova] there was a moment when inwardness and thought processes were caught up with, and when you go inside it’s very difficult to play at your best

“You do your best when you look at the other end and the space is open and free and you are at the front”

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Source: https://wwos.nine.com.au/tennis/ash-barty-australian-open-quarter-final-loss-controversy-todd-woodbridge/c0f542f2-286e-469e-97b5-ca3f81de5d43