Tennis fans witnessed two all-time classics at the Australian Open on Tuesday as Rafa Nadal and Denis Shapovalov duelled it out, while the 'Special Ks' won in front of a raucous crowd.
However viewers were left fuming when Channel Nine's coverage was limited for the matches.
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Nadal was pushed to five-sets with a fiery Shapovalov, with the 20-time grand slam champ showing his famous fight to prevail in an all-time classic.
Nadal's match stretched late into the afternoon, which then coincided with Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis taking to the court for their quarter-final clash against Michael Venus and Tim Peütz.
The 'Special Ks' won an absorbing contest 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 in front of one of the most raucous crowds ever witnessed at a grand slam.
However, Australian Open broadcaster Channel Nine infuriated fans when they continued to switch between the absorbing tennis epics, rather than showing both on main channels.
The broadcaster had two channels running (90 and 9Gem) during the first week of the grand slam, but just the one for the second week due to the reduction of matches.
Initially, Channel Nine's coverage of Nadal meant fans weren't able to watch Kyrgios and Kokkinakis on free-to-air TV.
Coverage then switched to the 'Special Ks' as fans created a raucous atmosphere in a huge nod to the attention the pair have brought to doubles.
But this meant fans then couldn't watch Nadal - also a fan favourite and seeking a record men's 21st grand slam - on free-to-air.
Fans had to switch to Channel Nine's online platform to watch Nadal, and to make matters worse, the other free-to-air channels were playing sitcoms and a movie from 1956.
The bizarre decision from Channel Nine certainly caught the attention of international media members.
Does seem bizarre though that Nine have not put Nadal v Shapovalov on any of their other four free to air channels, which are presently showing repeats of:
- The Baby and the Battleship (1956)
- Beach Hunters
- Garage Squad
- Everybody Loves Raymond
— Stuart Fraser (@stu_fraser) January 25, 2022
Don't worry, it's only a quarter final while Nadal is on his way to his 21st grandslam title making him the Greatest Of All Time.
— Paul Karp (@Paul_Karp) January 25, 2022
Not watching the tennis that closely but from what I can gather Nadal is beating Kyrgios and Kokkinakis yeah?
— Brydon Coverdale (@brydoncoverdale) January 25, 2022
Trying to watch the AO, and Channel 9 decided a 1967 movie was more important to air than a Rafael 5 set game. Seriously, give the tennis back to channel 7!
— Nathan Shanks (@ShanksyAUS) January 25, 2022
Of course, Nine had to prioritise the 1956 movie Baby And the Battleship (@9Gem) and a replay of Malcolm In The Middle (@9Go) over the live tennis they hold the exclusive rights to. @WWOS #AusOpen https://t.co/3isJF0FZT2
— Neil McMahon (@NeilMcMahon) January 25, 2022
@Channel9 showing this sideshow when Nadal and Shapovalov are on Centre Court. You have to go to 9NOW to see it. Apalling Judgement!
— Sir Anthony (@antzplace66) January 25, 2022
@BenRothenberg Nine have taken off Nadal v Shav to show the Aussie dbles. Other channels showing movie 1956, Raymond, and reality shows. If you can't do it properly, you shouldn't get the rights. Bloke going for tennis history and 21 slams and you can't watch it. Disgrace!
— ADG (@ADGalternative) January 25, 2022
OMG Channel bloody 9, cannot believe that you have chosen doubles match over Nadal/Shapovolov! And why have you retired GEM from tennis and returned it to old movies, if there are still good matches on two courts??? #AusOpen
— goddessofstrife (@goddessofstrif1) January 25, 2022
Tennis presumably is not very popular in Australia, given that @AustralianOpen’s contract with broadcaster @Channel9 allows the latter to shunt the R16 Nadal/Shapovaliv match in favour of old movies & sitcoms - unbelievable.
— Andrew Deakin (@andrewl5059) January 25, 2022
Rafa Nadal exhausted after Australian Open classic
The Spaniard won the final set in his thrilling five-set victory over the Canadian, prompting Shapovalov to smash his racquet after losing match point.
Speaking after the match, Nadal admitted he had been in serious trouble as temperatures soared well above 30 degrees.
“I was completely destroyed after that. It was a very tough day, very warm,” he said.
“I am not 21 anymore. After this match it is great to have two days off.
“I really believe I’m going to be ready for the semi-finals. It means everything to me.”
Now just two wins away from potentially holding the men's record grand for the most grand slam wins ever, Nadal said after a difficult year of rehab in 2021 he was simply happy to be back on court.
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