Australian Open host broadcaster prefers local 'Special Ks' to Nadal

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Tennis - Australian Open - Melbourne Park, Melbourne, Australia - January 25, 2022 Spain's Rafael Nadal celebrates winning his quarter final match against Canada's Denis Shapovalov REUTERS/Loren Elliott

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MELBOURNE, Jan 25 (Reuters) - Nick Kyrgios said he was surprised that the host broadcaster for the Australian Open opted to show a doubles match he was playing in on Tuesday, preferring it to Rafa Nadal's singles quarter-final.

The Australian and his partner Thanasi Kokkinakis drew another capacity crowd to Kia Arena and proved too good for sixth seeds Tim Puetz and Michael Venus during a 7-5 3-6 6-3 victory.

When the local favourites stepped on to court, Nadal was leading Canadian Denis Shapovalov by two sets at the Rod Laver Arena main showcourt, with the third set tied at 3-all.

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Channel 9, which has the broadcast rights to the Australian Open, decided to switch to the "Special Ks", the nickname given to the pair when they were promising teenagers.

"Nadal is a hell of a player. That's unexpected," Kyrgios said. "Shapovalov and Nadal are two probably of the best players in the world right now.

"But, I mean, I think the level of entertainment ... is different, I think."

After their second round win, Kyrgios said tennis administrators should cultivate players who were capable of extending the appeal of the sport beyond traditional audiences.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported almost 480,000 fans in Melbourne and Sydney tuned into the latter stages of their second-round doubles clash.

The report quoted industry sources as saying this figure was comparable to that of a singles match broadcast in prime-time.

Nadal, a 20-times major champion, defeated Shapovalov in a five set thriller 6-3 6-4 4-6 3-6 6-3.

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Reporting by Courtney Walsh; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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