The Osaka Effect: Over 20 Million Japanese Viewers Watched Naomi Osaka’s Australian Open Triumph - UBITENNIS
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The Osaka Effect: Over 20 Million Japanese Viewers Watched Naomi Osaka’s Australian Open Triumph

The women’s final attracted some impressive TV figures.

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World No.1 Naomi Osaka has proven to be a ratings hit back in Japan with figures showing her final with Petra Kvitova attracted a record audience for the tournament.

More than 20 million people saw the 21-year-old edge Kvitova to win her second grand slam title. In doing so, Osaka also became the first Asian player – man or woman – to reach the top of the world rankings. The audience peaked at 22.5 million when Osaka gave her speech during the trophy ceremony.

According to official ratings, the final was the most watched program in the country during the Australian Open. The last 75 minutes of the match on NHK-1 averaged 32.30 rating points. This is equivalent to an impressive 45% market share. To put this into perspective, only selected World Cup matches, Winter Olympics finals, the traditional Tokyo-Hakone relay race and NHK’s annual singing contest Kuhaku have attracted more viewers in recent time.

“The Australian Open has always been very popular in Japan,” Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said.
“Achieving a 20 million viewership on TV for any program, in this age of media disruption, is extraordinary and an indication of how passionate the fans are about their local heroes. To put it into further context, the women’s final was watched by more than double the average numbers of Japan’s most watched weekly programs.”

In America, Osaka’s win over Kvitova also proved to be a ratings success. ESPN reported that the final attracted 529,000 viewers. A 18% increase on the previous year (450,000).

This year’s Australian Open achieved an attendance record of 796, 435. During the first week alone, a total of 537,626 visited the tournament alone. An increase of more than 30,000 on the previous record. The busiest day of the tournament was on the middle Saturday when 93,178 people visited.

Last year at the US Open, Osaka’s triumph over Serena Williams to score her first major title was also a hit with viewers. According to ESPN, the women’s final drew 50% more viewers than men (3.1M to 2.07M). The clash was overshadowed by Williams’ clash with umpire Albert Ramos, who sanctioned her for coaching.

ATP

Dominic Thiem Extends Unbeaten Run As Ferrer Says Farewell To The Argentina Open

There were mixed emotions for players at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club on Thursday.

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Dominic Thiem (image via @sportsvision)

Top seed Dominic Thiem has made a winning start to the Argentina Open after triumphing in what was his first competitive match for a month.

The Roland Garros finalist has been absent from the tour in recent weeks after retiring from the Australian Open due to illness. During his absence, Thiem underwent a series of tests to establish the root of his problem and has been cleared to return to the tour.

Taking on Germany’s Maximilian Marterer in his opening match on Thursday, the Austrian powered his way to a 6-4, 6-4, victory. Converting four out of his eight break point opportunities. However, there is still room for improvement for Thiem, who only managed to win 48% of the points behind his second serve. The victory is his 10th consecutive at the tournament in Buenos Aires.

“I like the conditions here. I was able to develop a good performance to win it.” Thiem said afterwards.

This week the world No.8 is being mentored by Nicolas Massu. A former top 10 players who is best known for winning a gold medal at the 2004 Olympic Games. It is understood that the partnership is set to last only a week, however, Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung have suggested that it could be extended if proven successful.

In the quarter-finals Thiem will take on Pablo Cuevas. Cuevas, who has won all six of his ATP titles on the clay, knocked out Portuguese fifth seed Joao Sousa 6-4, 7-5.

“He is one of the best players on the clay.” Said Thiem. “We already played at Roland Garros and a Master 1000, so I’m expecting an open match.”

Thiem is currently tied at 2-2 in his head-to-head with the Uruguayan player.

Farewell continues his goodbye tour

Three-time champion David Ferrer has played his last ever match at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club. The Spaniard, who will officially retire from the tour in May, was edged out in a three set roller coaster against Albert Ramos-Vinolas. Ferrer failed to convert two match points during the second set as he suffered a 3-6, 7-6(9), 6-3 defeat.

“I feel at home because of the love they (the crowd) have for me. Loved.” Ferrer said following his loss.
“Without a doubt. It is very special since I will not step on this court again. What I will miss most is your affection.”

Ferrer is one of only two players in history to have won the tournament three years in a row. The other was Argentine legend Guillermo Vilas during the 1970s. Following his first round win there was a special presentation conducted to honour his career. Attendees to the on-court presentation included Gabriela Sabatini, Martin Jaite, Federico Delbonis, Marc Lopez, Diego Schwartzman, Juan Ignacio Chela, Mariano Zabaleta, Juan Monaco and Gaston Gaudio.

Ferrer’s conqueror Ramos-Vinolas will take on fourth seed Diego Schwartzman next. Schwartzman defeated Aljaz Bedene 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.

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After Slow Start To Season, John Isner Wins First Match Of 2019 At New York Open

There was mixed fortunes for American players at the Nassau Coliseum.

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John Isner at the 2018 ATP Finals (image by Gianni Ciaccia, copyright @Gianni Ciaccia)

Top seed John Isner has returned back to the winner’s circle after defeating Bernard Tomic 7-6(7), 6-4, in the second round of the New York Open.

Isner, who received a bye in the first round of the tournament, dominated on his serve throughout the match. Firing 27 aces past Tomic and dropping just nine points behind his serve. In the opening set the American fended off a trio of set points during the tiebreaker. In total there was only one break of serve in the entire match, but it occurred at the most significant moment. As Tomic served to stay in the match at 4-5 down in the second frame, Isner applied the pressure before triumphing on his sixth match point.

“I definitely served very well,” Isner said after the match. “I was down a set point in the first set and I came up with three aces.
“I’m happy to be in the quarter-finals. Last year I lost my first match here, hopefully I continue to improve.”

The win awards the 33-year-old his first victory of the season. Isner experienced a disappointing start to the year with early tournament losses to Taylor Fritz in Auckland and Reilly Opelka at the Australian Open. However, he has maintained his top 10 position and is currently ranked ninth in the world.

“I had a long time to stew over again not doing well down under,” Isner said. “I didn’t do well in Australia and it’s like I had another offseason. I wasn’t feeling too great after that . . . I was very eager to get out here an play and very happy to win.”

In the quarter-finals the American will take on seventh seed Jordan Thompson. Thompson recovered from a set down to defeat Chris Eubanks 4-6, 6-1, 6-4.

In the other half of the draw, Canadian qualifier Brayden Schnur has reached the last eight of an ATP tournament for the first time in his career. The 23-year-old stunned last year’s runner-up Steve Johnson 6-4, 4-6, 7-6(4). Saving two match points during the closing stages of the match.

“I just knew I had to make returns and obviously the hardest game for him to hold is the last one of the match,” atptour.com quoted Schnur as saying. “I just hung in there and put some pressure on him.”

Schnur will next take on Italian veteran Paolo Lorenzi, who defeated Ryan Harrison.

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Injured Maria Sharapova Withdraws From Indian Wells

The woes continue for the Russian after she pulled out of next month’s Premier Mandatory tournament.

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It is unclear as to when Maria Sharapova will be returning back to the tour after she withdrew from the upcoming BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells due to a shoulder injury.

Organisers of the tournament confirmed Sharapova’s absence in a tweet published on Wednesday. The 31-year-old, who reached the fourth round of the Australian Open, last played at the St Petersburg Open. However, at the tournament in her home country she was forced to pull out shortly after winning her opening match.

“I tried to do everything possible to be able to be ready to compete this week, but my right shoulder continues to be an issue for me,” Sharapova said in a statement on January 30th.
“I will meet with my team of doctors over the next few days to evaluate the situation, and I look forward to returning to completion as soon as possible.”

Sharapova has been blighted by shoulder problems throughout her career. In 2018 she ended her season early to recover from a right shoulder injury. Making her comeback at the Shenzhen Open earlier this year, the Russian reached the quarter-finals before retiring in her match against Aryan Sabalenka. Overall, she has played eight matches so far this season and have won six of those.

“The shoulder hasn’t been much of a secret in the past year. That’s been something I have been struggling with and had to shut down the season after the US Open,” Sharapova told reporters at last month’s Australian Open.
“[It’s] still not where I want it to be, still working through some painful days. That’s something that I have had to deal with since I was 21 years old and really at the peak of my career, [which] kind of came unexpected.
“I saw [my doctor] at the beginning of December, and he says it’s a day-by-day pain management situation. It’s definitely been an issue for the majority of last year and going into this year, as well, but it’s something that…I’m still working through.”

Sharapova is a two-time Indian Wells champion and last won the title back in 2013. She will be replaced in the draw by Mona Barthel.

This year’s tournament will get underway on March 4th.

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