Seven offers excuse for barty snub
Ash Barty got her Wimbledon campaign off to a winning start with a 6-4 6-2 victory over world No. 43 Zheng Saisai but most of Australia missed it due to the Seven Network's coverage.
As Seven showed the tennis on Seven Two and not their main channel, a decision was made to show the battle between Aussie men Nick Kyrgios and Jordan Thompson for most of the time Barty was on court instead of the newly crowned world No. 1. As a decision it was not popular.
Several critics lashed out at the broadcaster on social media for their decision to show the entertaining and volatile showdown in large chunks and hardly any of the Barty match, while True Stories aired on their main network.
Told about the situation after her match, Barty was asked if broadcasters should make sure everyone gets a fair run, 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.
The outcry about the decision forced Seven to address the broadcasting conflict on Sunrise on Wednesday morning.
Seven sport presenter Mark Beretta said Seven producers made the difficult decision that it couldn't cut the Kyrgios-Thompson match as it was headed to a fifth set blockbuster.
"Very difficult decisions," Beretta said.
"So Nick Kyrgios' match started at 11pm (it actually started at 8pm AEST and 11am local time at The All England Club). So 1am is when Ash's match actually starts, but Nick Kyrgios and Jordan Thompson are slugging it out over five sets. They run long. People have been watching for two hours and at the climax of the match, we're gonna say, 'Let's go to Ash now'. That's the difficult decision.
"So what we did, we showed a bit of Ash, and the best of Ash that was happening and the best (of the other match) and we flicked between the two matches until Nick was done and then we went with Ash. That's how it unfolded. And the nature of our arrangement with Wimbledon is that we can only show one match on one channel at any one time. So it was not an option to show it on two channels.
"It's like watching a movie for two hours and then just before the finish you change it."
Only Fox Sports has the option of running two channels as part of its Wimbledon coverage.
Host David Koch said the decision was like leaving "Mother Teresa" out in the cold.
Network star Sam Armytage even issued an apology to Australian viewers.
"We're sorry, hopefully we can work it out and we'll bring you the rest of Ash Barty's matches," she said.
Among the critics of Channel 7's decision were ABC Executive Editor John Lyons, who 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."
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
He was followed by The Advertiser sports writer Rob Greenwood, who hammered Seven for multiple aspects of their broadcast.
"So not only are we forced to watch #Kyrgios v Thompson in standard definition - a joke in 2019 - we now get only snippets of World No.1 #Barty in action at change of ends in the men's match. Bizarre #Wimbledon coverage from @7Sport"
So not only are we forced to watch #Kyrgios v Thompson in standard definition - a joke in 2019 - we now get only snippets of World No.1 #Barty in action at change of ends in the men’s match. Bizarre #Wimbledon coverage from @7Sport . #Wimbledon2019— Rob Greenwood (@robgreenwood1) July 2, 2019
That pair were followed by several others who were unhappy with the coverage of the tennis.
Channel 7 is utterly stumped because there are two matches featuring Australians on at the same time.— Greg Jericho (@GrogsGamut) July 2, 2019
The match itself wasn't all smooth sailing and the first set had nervous moments as Zheng rallied from a break down to get it back to 4-4 before Barty held serve and then broke to take the opening set.
From there she displayed more of the form that took her to titles at Roland Garros and Eastbourne and claimed her 13th straight victory on tour.
Despite the early nerves Barty was pleased with the round one victory.
"The first round is always very tough and it took a little bit of time to get used to the conditions and get used to that beautiful court," Barty said of the new number one court before speaking on what it feels like to be top seed at a grand slam.
"It feels incredible," she added.
"It's a little bit of a bizarre felling to be honest but I just try and go about my business the exact same way."
Barty will now play Alison van Uytvanck, the Belgian world No.54 for a place in the third round on Thursday after she beat former world No.2 Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4 4-6 6-2 in her first round match.