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Australian Network defends Barty snub

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Diana Marcinkevica of Latvia returns a shot to Julia Goerges of Germany during the 2019 Fed Cup World Group Play-offs between Latvia and Germany in Riga, Latvia on April 19, 2019. (Xinhua/Edijs Palens)

MELBOURNE (Reuters) – Australian broadcaster Seven Network has defended its decision to televise Nick Kyrgios’s first round match rather than world number one Ash Barty’s opener after being hit with claims of “sexism” over its Wimbledon coverage.

Kyrgios’s match with compatriot Jordan Thompson had been going for two hours before Barty started hers against China’s Zheng Saisai, and the broadcaster stuck with the men’s clash rather than switch over.

Fans on Twitter vented their frustration, with some claiming Seven’s focus on world number 43 Kyrgios’s five-set win over Barty’s straight sets victory was “sexist”.

The network, which flipped over to Barty’s match just before she wrapped up her win, said it was a “difficult decision” but the ratings spoke for themselves.

“Nick Kyrgios and Jordan Thompson were tied in the third set of a thrilling contest when Ash walked onto court,” a Seven spokesperson said in a statement. “The massive audience ratings on 7TWO, which were comparable to a Wimbledon final, show how engaged Aussies were in the epic five-setter between Kyrgios and Thompson.”

Kyrgios and Barty were asked by Australian reporters about the coverage but each sounded unfazed.

“If people can watch my matches, great. If they can’t, they can’t. That’s up to the broadcasters, not me,” French Open champion Barty said.

Kyrgios said he thought they would “probably show both, but I don’t really have much to say about that”.

Barty is an all-court player who employs a wide variety of shots into her style of play.

Despite her short stature, she is an excellent server.

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