REPORTS: Absence of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic Takes a Toll on TV Ratings




The biggest names are the biggest crowd pullers in an event. Whether it’s a match or any other occasion, viewership fluctuates with the presence or absence of any specific name involved. For tennis, the presence of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Serena Williams greatly determines the viewership. Years of astounding performance helped them build a loyal fan base that flocks to any match they play in.

Spencer Nolan, general manager for UK and Ireland for Nielsen Sport, shared his thought regarding this issue.

“For sports like tennis, you do see the individuals [involved] playing a big part in the overall audience base or the willingness to watch an event,” Spencer Nolan said.

The recently concluded US Open 2020 fetched disappointing viewership numbers. While the men’s final lacked audience due to the absence of the big three, the women’s final suffered because of the semi-final’s loss of hometown heroine Serena Williams.

“In the women’s final, the absence of the home hero is a big piece whereas the men’s is different and we’re talking about global icons that almost transcend a sport: Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, and Serena too, are not only the three best ever to play the game, they are the three best ever to play in the last 150 years and they’re all playing at the same time which is probably unparalleled in any sport.

“If they had retired five years ago, there would have been a hole for a period and you would maybe have had players maybe winning slams that they shouldn’t have been.”

Rafael Nadal on his quest for the 13th Roland Garros title

Pulling out of the US Open 2020, Rafael Nadal shifted his complete focus towards the French Open 2020. The twelve-time French Open champion is on a quest to pick up his 13th Grand Slam on clay.

The Spaniard is almost unplayable on the red dirt. However, it won’t be easy for Nadal as this year’s tournament has adverse conditions – including heavier Wilson balls.

Novak Djokovic’s presence in the tournament not only increased the competition but also helped in bringing more audience to the event. Significantly, Serena Williams will also look for her record 24th Grand Slam.

Serena Williams in US Open 2020
Flushing Meadows, New York,USA; Serena Williams of the United States hits a backhand against Victoria Azarenka of Belarus (not pictured) in a women’s singles semi-finals match on day ten of the 2020 U.S. Open tennis tournament at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. |REUTERS

Needless to say, the viewership will go down drastically after these players retire. We can only hope that the void is soon filled by fresh faces.