The U.S. Open ratings took a beating across the last two weeks.
Ratings were down 45 percent overall, with Saturday’s women’s final between Naomi Osaka of Japan and Victoria Azarenka of Belarus down 43 percent and Sunday’s men’s final between Dominic Thiem of Austria and Sascha Zverev of Germany down 48 percent.
The U.S. Open was held for the first time without fans due to the pandemic, and there was competition from a number of other sports, including the NBA and NHL playoffs, the shortened MLB season and the start of the NFL season this past weekend.
Although Serena Williams reached the semifinals of the women’s draw while pursuing her elusive 24th Grand Slam title, several household names were missing. Six of the top 10 women in the world skipped the event, including defending champion Bianca Andreescu.
On the men’s side, defending champion Rafael Nadal (COVID concerns) and five-time champion Roger Federer (injury) both skipped the tournament, while three-time champ Novak Djokovic was defaulted in the fourth round for unintentionally hitting a line judge in the throat with a ball.
That paved the way for Thiem to win his first Grand Slam title, and the first won by a non-”Big Three” member since Stan Wawrinka won the Open in 2016.
“We both didn’t face one of the big three, so I guess that was in the back of the head for both of us,” Thiem said after becoming the first man since Pancho Gonzales in 1949 to come from two sets down to win the title over Zverev.
“That’s why we were on nerves. Was a very good chance for the both of us. For him it was his first major finals. For him was the same like for me.”
While ratings for the women’s final were down significantly from a year ago when Andreescu topped Serena, this year’s final was the third-highest in the ESPN Era behind the last two years, both of which featured Williams shooting for major No. 24 and drew more than 3 million viewers.
The men’s final — which competed Sunday with Tom Brady’s debut with Tampa Bay — was the lowest in the ESPN era. During that span, only the 2015 final in which Djokovic beat Federer topped 3 million viewers.