Questions raised over timing of Ash Barty’s semi-final match
World No. 1 Ash Barty will head into her much anticipated semi-final match today but one major factor means a lot of her fans probably won't get to see her play.
Her showdown against US player Sofia Kenin is set to start at 2pm, a far cry from the prime time evening spots reserved for the men's semi-finals.
Many people have questioned why Tennis Australia would have the country's golden girl playing at a time when the majority of Aussies will be unable to watch and cheer her on.
@AustralianOpen is there any reason that @ashbarty is on at 2pm? She’s the damn world number 1. She’s the first Australian to make a semi-final in 15 years. I would think she deserves prime time at her home slam!!— 𝐼𝒸𝑜𝓃𝒾𝒸 (@AcousticAri) January 29, 2020
Speaking on ABC News Breakfast, sports reporter and presenter Paul Kennedy questioned why Barty wasn't playing in that prime time spot or at least before the Federer/Djokovic match, noting men's matches could last up to five hours.
Tennis Australia responded by saying that the women's semi-finals had been played during the day since 1988 and Barty's match time "was to do with keeping up that tradition of scheduling".
Barty will be the first Australian woman since Wendy Turnbull in 1984 to make the final four at Melbourne Park, which Kennedy thought might be cause for a change from the usual schedule.
"I would have thought a special circumstance might be in order to buck the local up," he said.
"As we know it hasn't happened since 1984; that's why it is a different situation but they are deciding to leave it as it is."
He added that the world No.1 may actually prefer the day spot: "Barty might not be too unhappy about it; she seems to thrive in the day matches anyway and we certainly haven't heard from her camp."
Similar questions about the scheduling of Barty's matches were raised when her match against Petra Kvitova on Tuesday was set for the day time.
Barty was asked by BBC commentator David Law in her post-match press conference whether she had specifically requested to play in the day rather than the night.
While she didn't confirm about requesting a certain playing time, Barty did speak about how she loved playing in the sun.
"I think everyone has preferences of when they like to play but for me I love playing in the sun, I love playing in the daytime," she said.
"We play more matches in the daytime than we do at night but I think with the other quarter-final being played in the morning, it was fine as well. I'm happy to play in the sun anytime."
Whether or not the Aussie star prefers playing during the day, it is clear the 2pm timeslot has had a big impact on ticket sales.
Tickets in the lower sections of Rod Laver Arena for the women's semi-finals are selling for just $70, in what is likely an attempt to fill up the stadium.
In comparison, the cheapest tickets for the men's semi-final is $400.
This is extraordinary for #AusOpen semis.— Shane McInnes (@shanemcinnes) January 29, 2020
You can't get tickets this cheap on RLA for a 1st rnd match, let alone a semi final.
Trying to find out reason for price drop, but, given the number of seats available I'd suggest, organisers don't want a half empty stadium for Ash 🇦🇺 https://t.co/w02tj5OOqE
If you want to follow Barty's match against Kenin you can do so through news.com.au's live coverage of day 11 of the Australian Open.