Tennis fans were left fuming on Wednesday night when Dylan Alcott's wheelchair final at the Australian Open got bumped to Margaret Court Arena, meaning the match wasn't initially televised.
Alcott was overjoyed on Tuesday when he found out that his clash with Sam Schroder would be played on Rod Laver Arena in prime time after the quarter-final between Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsistipas.
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However organisers faced a tricky decision when the Nadal-Tsitsipas clash went to five sets and Alcott and Schroder were still waiting to play.
Rather than leave Alcott and Schroder waiting, organisers decided to move their match to Margaret Court Arena - the final getting underway at about 11.15pm.
That meant the majority of Alcott's match wasn't televised, with Tsitsipas finally overcoming Nadal in five epic sets just before midnight.
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) February 17, 2021
Alcott secured his eighth Australian Open crown with a 6-1 6-0 victory over Schroder, but fans were left fuming that they didn't get to see it.
Some felt the match should have been rescheduled to Thursday (when fans are allowed back at Melbourne Park), or at least televised on one of Channel Nine's other channels.
“Disappointed I won’t get to see @DylanAlcott play tonight because it’s on so late," tweeted journalist Rachel Riley.
"An Aussie champion playing in the final of the #AusOpen should be prime time to entertain/inspire so many.
"Take nothing away from the game on now. Just want to see the best of all abilities.
“Should have been playing at the same time, prime time, on a different court, broadcast on other 9 channel. Disappointing for fans and surely players too.”
AFL reporter Tom Browne said it was a "strange" call from organisers to send Alcott out at 11.15pm, while tennis writer Ben Rothenberg added: “Bummer to move the quad final to MCA ... would have preferred it got delayed to another day, especially with fans arriving tomorrow.”
Damien Peck tweeted: “Obviously no one can foresee a 5 set match beforehand, but Alcott should be livid that it’s not being played in Australian prime time.”
While Jake Bozinovski added: “What a pathetic decision for @TennisAustralia to reschedule tonight’s Dylan Alcott’s game to be played at Margaret Court Arena, it should’ve been for tomorrow so the fans could be there to witness the final, absolutely disgraceful.”
Sending Alcott out at 1113pm is so strange 🤔
— Tom Browne (@TomBrowne7) February 17, 2021
What a pathetic decision for @TennisAustralia to reschedule tonight’s Dylan Alcott’s game to be played at Margaret Court Arena, it should’ve been for tomorrow so the fans could be there to witness the final, absolute disgraceful. #AusOpen #AO2021
— ⚫️⚪️Jake Bozinovski⚫️⚪️ (@IncrediblyBozza) February 17, 2021
— J$ (@joelmaloney) February 17, 2021
Dylan is absolutely fantastic and a great champion. It’s a pity about the scheduling though, deserved better, also a shame missed a crowd by one day , but that couldn’t be helped. @AustralianOpen @DylanAlcott Congrats 👏👏🎾
— Erica H 💙❤️💛 (@Rebelstorm) February 17, 2021
Alaa ch9 dont see this as an Australian winning the open?
— Sharna Nicole 🌏 (@sbooth29) February 17, 2021
A disgrace from TA. A crowd would’ve seen Alcott at RLA prior to the men’a semi-final tomorrow evening
— Victor #StaySafe 🇦🇺 (@BigV2011WCE) February 17, 2021
Alcott later revealed that he did discuss with organisers about rescheduling the match, however he wanted to play.
“The choice wasn’t mine, but it was talked about,” Alcott said. “My preference was to play.
“I was probably thinking a bit too much about it in my head, and then yesterday I was like ‘you know what, let’s just play whenever’.
"When the crowds got announced, I had a chat with my opponent and TA but because of broadcast, if Rafa pulls out of the first game or it’s quick or whatever, you need tennis to be played.
“I talked to the other wheelchair tennis players. They were like ‘are you following Rafa and Stefanos prime time? That’s the sickest thing I ever heard.’
“I was like here’s me being a bit of ‘do I want crowds, or I want to follow Rafa’? Are you serious? Then I realised I’ll play whenever.”
Dylan Alcott targeting Paralympic gold next
World No.1 Alcott celebrated his 6-1 6-0 victory over Schroder by sinking a couple of beers for the first time since Christmas Day, leaving the showman in familiarly exuberant mood.
Asked about his next big aim, the 30-year-old reckoned he was desperate to shoot for gold at a rearranged Paralympic Games in Tokyo this year.
"Well, I call the Olympic Games the crappy warm ups for the Paralympic Games, right?" smiled Alcott.
"Once, every four years people with disability are the stars.
"People say, 'why not have the Paralympics and Olympics combined?'
"I'm like, 'when Usain Bolt was running, I fully appreciate everyone will watch him and not me. But guess what? When I'm on, we're the stars, right?'
"That's why I love the Paralympics. For two weeks, it's the big show."
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