Ash Barty has become the first Australian since Lleyton Hewitt in 2005 to make the semi-finals of the Australian Open in singles.
Aussie tennis fans have fired up overnight as Channel Seven left the majority of Ashleigh Barty’s first-round match at Wimbledon off their screens.
Barty, who won the French Open just a month ago and came away with a tournament victory in Birmingham to confirm her status as the world’s number one player, started at 10pm (AEST), however, Australian viewers saw only snippets of the match on free to air TV.
Instead, Channel 7 stuck with the majority of a five-set thriller between Nick Kyrgios and Jordan Thompson, which had started two hours earlier and was in the middle of a tense third set, which ended in a 12-10 tiebreaker the way of Kyrgios.
Day 2 of Wimbledon and Channel 7 have stuffed it already. Thank goodness I have Fox Sports and was able to watch the world No.1 Ash Barty win the first set. Good luck to the Ch 7 PR people explaining dud call to stick with Kyrgios.
— Cameron Bell (@CameronBell) July 2, 2019
Someone tell channel 7 that Ash Barty is ranked number one in the world and Krygios and Thomson are not and the clue should be SHE is on centre court at Wimbledon right now, not on the 'packed three deep' tiny court the boys are on #wimbledon
— Susie Protschky (@ProtschkySusie) July 2, 2019
— ????Pat (@spuddy108) July 2, 2019
While Channel Seven attempted to cover both matches going ad-break free for a period of time, it only worsened the coverage, with neither getting consistent air time and ads eventually brought back into the coverage.
— Jen Luu (@jen_luu) July 2, 2019
Barty had more coverage while at the back-end of her match, which she won 6-4, 6-2 over Saisai Zheng of China, but it came at a time when she was cruising and the Kyrgios-Thompson encounter was just getting interesting, leaving things even more confused.
— Scott Pryde (@sk_pryde) July 2, 2019
Some fans saw it the other way though, claiming the Kyrgios-Thompson encounter was more entertaining, and based on the final scorelines, it might be hard to disagree.
Channel 7 picked the more entertaining match, end of story.
— Daniel Passante (@danpassante21) July 2, 2019
I love Nick Kyrgios. Easy decision for Channel 7 tonight #Wimbledon
— Michael Nicholls (@micknicholls) July 2, 2019
Channel Seven attempted to clear up the mess on their morning Sunrise show, with Mark Beretta saying they only had the rights to show one match on one channel from Wimbledon at a time.
“Very difficult decisions. So Nick Kyrgios’ started at 11pm (actually 8pm AEST), and 1am (actually 10pm AEST) is when Ash starts, but Nick Kyrgios and Jordan Thompson are slugging it out over five sets. They run long,” said Beretta.
“People have been watching for two hours, and at the climax of the match, you say, we are going to Ash now. That’s the difficult decision.
“So, what we did, was we showed the best of Ash, and the best of Kyrgios. We flicked between the two matches. That’s how it unfolded.
“The nature of our arrangement with Wimbledon is that we can only show one match, on one channel, at any one time.”
— Sunrise (@sunriseon7) July 2, 2019
The problem, is that Seven had claimed Kyrgios and Barty as their exclusive matches, when two hours is often nowhere near enough for a best-of-five-sets men’s grand slam match to be completed. By the time it was all said and done, Barty had finished her match before Kyrgios and Thompson were even halfway through their fifth set.
In Seven’s defence, they did allow Fox Sports to show the Barty game in full on their main Wimbledon channel on pay TV.
Fox Sports have two channels running for the first week Wimbledon, however, have no rights to show the best two matches of the day, as chosen by Seven.
Those two matches, which were Kyrgios and Barty on Day 2 of The Championships, are exclusive to Seven for both TV and streaming.
The only way Fox usually get their hand on a Seven match is through Kayo Sports, who have it on demand the following morning from 8am (AEST).
Kyrgios will play Rafael Nadal on Thursday evening, while Barty will again be on one of the main courts as one of the number one players, and there is every chance in the world that when the order of play gets released early on Thursday morning (AEST), there could be another clash between the two biggest names in Australian tennis, again leaving Seven with a tough decision to make.