Channel Seven's coverage of Wimbledon came under attack on Tuesday night after the network opted to show most of an all-Australian clash between Nick Kyrgios and Jordan Thompson ahead of Ashleigh Barty's debut as women's world No.1.
Barty, the French Open champion, began her latest quest with a 6-4, 6-2 victory over world No. 43 Saisai Zheng but only parts of the match were shown.
The clash between the fiery Kyrgios and Thompson was given preference, a battle which lasted for three hours and 26 minutes and was won by Kyrgios 7-6 (7-4), 3-6, 7-6 (12-10), 0-6, 6-1.
Seven did not show the tennis on their primary channel, rather it was aired exclusively on Seven Two.
While Kyrgios' win was entertaining, and featured his typical array of skill, bewildering errors and spats with linesman (and even an usher), several critics were unhappy with the network's decision.
Barty was asked after her match if broadcasters should make sure there is an appropriate balance, particularly with respect to women's tennis.
"How do you want me to answer that one? If people can watch my matches, great. If they can't, they can't. That's up to the broadcaster, that's not up to me," she said.
Kyrgios, the world No.43, said he presumed Seven would have shown both matches.
"I don't have much to do with that. But obviously, I mean, Ash, what she's doing on the tennis court now is pretty special. I actually told a lot of people that I thought she was going to win Wimbledon as well," he said.
"I mean, I thought they probably would show both. I don't really have much to say about that. You know, sorry."
Several critics took aim at Seven, including ABC executive editor John Lyons and ABC journalist Sally Sara.
Lyons tweeted: "Genuine question: Why is Channel 7 (7Two) broadcasting Nick Kyrgios - the world's Number Whatever male player - when at the very same time Ash Barty - the world Number 1 female player - also an Australian - is playing? Seven, there is something seriously wrong with your judgment."
Hundreds more voiced their frustrations at Channel 7 on social media.
Genuine question: Why is Channel 7 (7Two) broadcasting Nick Kyrgios - the world's Number Whatever male player - when at the very same time Ash Barty - the world Number 1 female player - also an Australian - is playing? Seven, there is something seriously wrong with your judgment.— John Lyons (@TheLyonsDen) July 2, 2019
Tennis Australia declined to comment when contacted on Wednesday.
Channel Seven was approached for comment, although the broadcaster did not have a media relations representative present at Wimbledon.
Barty's second round match is on Thursday night and could again clash with Kyrgios, who is taking on Rafael Nadal in what has been seen as his grudge match against the Spanish champion.
- SMH/The Age