Tennis fans were left fuming after Eurosport‘s coverage of Naomi Osaka’s eventual Australian Open third-round defeat cut out.
The Japanese star – the defending champion at Melbourne Park – was beaten in a deciding first-to-10-points tie-break by America’s Amanda Anisimova, losing 4-6 6-3 7-6 (5).
But viewers watching on Eurosport 2 were left outraged when coverage cut to the Skiing World Cup being held in Austria when Osaka was tied at 5-5 in the deciding set across the globe in Melbourne.
Fans were left fuming after Eurosport cut away from Naomi Osaka’s Australian Open defeat
She was beaten in a deciding first-to-10-points tie-break by American Amanda Anisimova
And the lack of coverage of the end of the match – which lasted two hours and 18 minutes including a one-hour deciding set – drew fury from social media users.
A Eurosport statement on the matter read: ‘As a multi-sports channel, Eurosport’s current programme scheduling – when live coverage is available – is to host Australian Open tennis on Eurosport 1 and winter sports on Eurosport 2. Every match of the Australian Open is available on our streaming service discovery+.
‘As with all matches, we understood there was a possibility that the Naomi Osaka vs Amanda Anisimova match could run longer than scheduled. When this occurred, we extended the channel’s coverage of the match for as long as possible before informing viewers that Eurosport 2 was to switch to the live alpine skiing scheduled, an important event for winter sports fans in the build up to the Olympic Winter Games in two weeks time. We provided guidance that the match could be found on discovery+, which has every match available live.
‘We make every effort to ensure our viewers enjoy a seamless viewing experience at all times and aim to direct everyone to the coverage they care about in the best possible way.’
Tennis journalist Jose Morgado said: ‘Not Eurosport leaving Osaka’s match at 5-5 in the 3rd. Shambles.’
Another was also angry, with the coin toss and pre-match warm-up between Rafael Nadal and Karen Khachanov being shown on Eurosport 1 instead of the finale of Osaka’s match.
But with Osaka tied 5-5 in the deciding set, Eurosport coverage cut to the Skiing World Cup
The person tweeted: ‘Cutting away from a very exciting decider between Naomi Osaka and Amanda Anisimova to show Nadal warming up on one channel and skiing previews on the other isn’t a good look.’
One slated the channel and said the incident showed why rival broadcasters Amazon Prime – who have rights to the US Open – ‘are better’.
The user wrote: ‘Eurosport – Cutting away from Osaka Anisimova at 5-5 in the 3rd is not going to make everyone subscribe to Discovery+, it’s just going to p*** everyone off. This is why Prime is better.’
Another meanwhile added: ‘Eurosport 2 cutting away from the Naomi Osaka match at 5-5 in the third set to go to skiing (and moving Osaka onto its subscription only streaming service) is an… interesting decision…’
Another accused Eurosport of being ‘uncaring’ adding: ‘@Eurosport Why did you cut away from the Osaka match just as it nears it’s end, to show interviews with skiers?
‘So uncaring. Crazy. Not sure I want to use you again. Seems all you want is to push Discovery!!!!’
Another meanwhile added: ‘Eurosport are so useless… you’re telling me they left the osaka match at 5-5 in the 3rd set for SKIING?’
Osaka had just returned to the sport this month after two breaks last season to protect her mental health, and had comfortably won her first two matches.
But the result will be particularly disappointing for Osaka because she held two match points at 4-5 in the deciding set, but Anisimova saved them both and will go forward to face world number one Ashleigh Barty.
A prodigious junior talent, Anisimova reached the French Open semi-finals as a 17-year-old but had struggled since the death of her father and coach Konstantin later in 2019.
She is ranked only 60th in the world but is unbeaten in 2022 having won the warm-up title in Melbourne and showed here that she remains one of the brightest prospects in the game.
Anisimova is cut from the same cloth as Osaka in terms of the crispness and power of her ball-striking and this was a heavyweight contest from the start.
Osaka held two match points at 4-5 in the deciding set, but Anisimova saved them both
Osaka played a calm and composed first set but Anisimova cut down on her errors in the second to level the match and there was virtually nothing to choose between the two in a high-quality decider.
Anisimova edged in front early in the tie-break, though, and was almost flawless, dropping her racket to the court in disbelief after clinching victory with an ace on her first match point.
‘Going into this match I knew I had to be playing sharp,’ said Anisimova. ‘Naomi is an absolute champion so I knew I had to really step up my game. I think I started doing that in the second set. I’m so grateful I was able to play so well today and get this win. It means a lot.’
A potential meeting between Osaka and Barty had been highlighted as soon as the draw was made but now it is the Australian hero who will have to try to stop Anisimova.
Osaka played a calm first set but Anisimova later cut down on her errors to take the second
Barty has been untroubled so far and defeated big-hitting Italian Camila Giorgi 6-2 6-3.
Two-time former champion Victoria Azarenka has also breezed through the draw so far, dropping just nine games in three matches.
The 2012 and 2013 champion is having her best run in Melbourne for six years and was in excellent form in beating long-time top-10 star Elina Svitolina 6-0 6-2.
Azarenka next faces fourth seed Barbora Krejcikova, who recovered from a set and a break down to defeat another French Open champion in Jelena Ostapenko 2-6 6-4 6-4.
Anisimova will go forward to face world number one Ashleigh Barty in the fourth round
Krejcikova was unhappy to receive a warning for taking too long over a bathroom break – a rule introduced following the furore at the US Open that surrounded Stefanos Tsitsipas’ lengthy departures from the court.
Another very tight contest saw eighth seed Paula Badosa defeat young Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk 6-2 5-7 6-4.
Badosa next faces a resurgent Madison Keys, who won the WTA Tour title in Adelaide last weekend and moved through to the last 16 by winning a deciding tie-break against Wang Qiang.
Fifth seed Maria Sakkari eased to a 6-4 6-1 victory over Veronika Kudermetova and will face Jessica Pegula next.