Fans slam wheelchair champ’s cruel snub
Aussie wheelchair tennis star Dylan Alcott was pumped to be playing in prime time on Rod Laver Arena on Wednesday night - until he wasn't.
Alcott won his seventh straight Australian Open quad singles crown by beating Dutchman Sam Schroder 6-1 6-0 in the final, but Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas didn't exactly help him out.
Alcott was scheduled to arrive on centre court after Nadal and Tsitsipas' quarter-final, which started at 7.30pm. But they were locked in a marathon and shortly after the Greek star won the fourth set to send it to a decider, organisers made the decision to shift Alcott and Schroder off Rod Laver Arena and onto Margaret Court Arena instead.
Both players hit the court at around 11.15pm and their match started while Nadal and Tsitsipas were still waging war - one which ended with the Spaniard being beaten in a five-set thriller.
Sadly, it meant the start of the wheelchair final wasn't broadcast live on TV and took place when most fans Down Under were already asleep.
Alcott is never one to complain, but it was a somewhat unfortunate turn of events for the 30-year-old, who said at a press conference on Tuesday he hoped tournament organisers would schedule his match for prime time - a request they heeded.
Before the schedule change was announced, many fans on social media were already complaining about putting Alcott's final on after a match that had every chance of going to five sets.
The criticism kept coming after Australian Open officials made their crunch call.
Journalist Rachel Riley tweeted: "Disappointed I won't get to see @DylanAlcott play tonight because it's on so late. 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 tweeted: "Sending Alcott out at 11.13pm is so strange."
Tennis writer Ben Rothenberg wrote: "Bummer to move the quad final to MCA ... would have preferred it got delayed to another day, especially with fans arriving tomorrow."
Damien Peck added: "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."
Jake Bozinovski said: "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."
Alcott had already added some more silverware to his collection on Tuesday when he teamed up with countryman Heath Davidson to win the quad wheelchair doubles title at Melbourne Park.
The Aussie top seeds outgunned Brit Andy Lapthorne and American David Wagner 10-7 in a deciding tiebreak after winning the first set 6-2 before dropping the second 3-6.
It's the fourth time Alcott and Davidson have triumphed together at the Australian Open, giving Alcott his eighth grand slam doubles crown.
"I get to play tennis with one of my best mates," Alcott said. "Not many people can say that.
"We don't just hang out in tennis, we hang out in everyday life, too. It's the 20th anniversary of us meeting this year.
"I have four Australian Open titles. Pretty awesome. Very proud of Heath and where he's come from."
Even though hitting the court for his singles final so late probably wasn't his ideal scenario, Alcott knows he's lucky to be playing at all.
"We are so lucky to be playing tennis at the moment," he said on Tuesday. "We aren't taking that opportunity for granted.
"I feel very grateful to be here. When other people can't do their jobs, have lost loved ones, lost their jobs, can't travel, are in lockdown … when you are grateful for the moment, I think you can relax.
"Win, lose or draw, who cares. I'm just lucky to be here. I'm thinking like that."
Originally published as Fans slam wheelchair champ's cruel snub