Statistics from ESPN have revealed Emma Raducanu’s victory over Leylah Fernandez in the US Open Women’s Singles final was watched by more people than the Men’s Singles final the following night.
The 18-year-old won her first major title in New York on Saturday night –– becoming the first qualifier to ever win a Grand Slam. It was also the first time two teenagers had contested a Slam final since Serena Willams beat Martina Hingis at the US Open in 1999.
The buzz and anticipation around this final led to an average of 2.44 million viewers on ESPN with a peak of 3.4 million.
Remarkably this was higher than the men’s game on Sunday, which featured Novak Djokovic. The Serbian was chasing the ‘Golden Slam’ –– awarded to players who win all four majors in the same calendar year.
He was also aiming to win a record-breaking 21st Grand Slam, which would have seen him surpass both Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer on the all-time list. Yet, the match had an average of just 2.05 million and a peak of 2.7m.
This says it all about the state of women’s tennis at the moment. Both matches had intriguing storylines but it was the Raducanu vs Fernandez final which gained notably more attention.
It shows perhaps, that people are drawn to an underdog story. Across the four majors in 2021, the women’s game has seen eight different finalists. Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka were both knocked out in the third round at Flushing Meadows this year, but it’s this unpredictability that makes it captivating viewing.
Meanwhile, as much as Djokovic stood on the brink of history, the sight of him winning had become all too common.
Nonetheless, both finals were up 35 percent compared to last year in terms of viewing figures, with the general average of 881,000 across the competition also up by a third.
ESPN took over the rights for the US Open from CBS in 2015 and also hold the rights to show the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
In Britain, Amazon Prime Video are the exclusive right holders and the Raducanu match became the most viewed tennis match ever on their platform.
Channel 4’s coverage, which was agreed with Amazon just 24 hours before the final, drew a peak of 9.2 million viewers.