There really aren't any American superstars in tennis anymore, outside of the controversial Serena Williams. The US Open, the most popular of the four slams for US fans, is only drawing a rating of 1 or 2 for both men's and women's finals. In comparison the NBA Finals draws ratings of 15-18. The superbowl's rating is in the mid 40's. Overall, the popularity of tennis has declined sharply in the US. Is there going to be a turnaround in tennis popularity in the US? http://www.observer.com/2010/media/tennis-television-ratings-tumble Tennis Television Ratings Tumble By John Koblin 9/04/10 2:29pm Someone order up a Roger-Rafa and Sharapova-Venus final. CBS needs it! I went through CBS Media Guide last night, and there are three pages dedicated to the ratings of men’s and women’s Grand Slam finals over the last few decades and–yowza–they have taken a steep decline, particularly in the last year or two. Let’s start with the U.S. Open. For the last two years, thanks to rain, the men’s finals have been played on late Monday afternoon (the Judge Judy slot) and both of them have had the worst ratings of any Open men’s final since the records start in 1978. Last year’s women’s final–which was thrown on ESPN2 on a Sunday night instead of its usual spot on CBS on Saturday night due to the rain–was also the worst one ever recorded. It’s not just the Open, either. At Wimbledon, Rafa Nadal-Tomas Berdych’s final this year scored a 1.6 rating, the lowest rated men’s final on NBC since 1988 (in the CBS media guide, the Wimbledon ratings only go back that far). The women’s final of Serena v. Vera Zvonareva scored a 1.6 as well, which is the women’s lowest Wimbledon final in the last 23 years. What finals performed great, and what did poorly? Let’s go through the stats! (The number next to each match is Nielsen’s “rating,” which is the percentage of televisions around the country that tuned in for tennis). U.S. OPEN MEN’S FINALS, HIGHEST RATED: 1. 1980, John McEnroe d. Bjorn Borg, 11.0 2. 1982, Jimmy Connors d. Ivan Lendl, 9.9 3. 1983, Jimmy Connors d. Ivan Lendl, 9.5 OK, enough with the early 80s! We get it, it was a glory age. What about in the last, say, 15 years? OK, coming right up! Since 1995… U.S. OPEN MEN’S FINALS, HIGHEST RATED SINCE 1995: 1. 1999, Andre Agassi d. Todd Martin, 6.3 2. 2002, Pete Sampras d. Andre Agassi, 6.2 3. 1996, Pete Sampras d. Michael Chang, 6.1 What conclusions do we draw from this? Obviously we prefer Americans! In fact, in the era of Federer’s Dominance, the best rated men’s matches have featured Roger Federer v. Andre Agassi (4.8 in 2005) and Federer v. Roddick (4.1 in 2006). What are the three lowest ever? U.S. OPEN MEN’S FINALS, LOWEST RATED: 1. 2008, Roger Federer d. Andy Murray, 1.7 2. 2009, Juan Martin del Potro d. Roger Federer, 2.3 3. 2004, Roger Federer d. Lleyton Hewitt, 2.5 As we explained before, two of those are easily explained by the Monday final. Let’s move over to the ladies. Also, it’s worth nothing that the women moved from Saturday afternoon finals to Saturday night finals in 2001. Let’s look at the best rated: U.S. OPEN WOMEN’S FINALS, HIGHEST RATED: 1. 1981, Tracy Austin d. Martina Navratilova, 7.7 2. 1985, Hana Mandlíková d. Martina Navratilova, 7.3 3. 1984, Martina Navratilova d. Chris Evert, 7.1 Enough with the 80s! Let’s take a look at it since 1995. U.S. OPEN WOMEN’S FINALS, HIGHEST RATED SINCE 1995: 1. 2001, Venus Williams d. Serena Williams, 6.8 2. 1999, Serena Williams d. Martina Hingis, 6.3 3. 1995, Steffi Graf d. Monica Seles, 5.2 And the worst? U.S. OPEN WOMEN’S FINALS, LOWEST RATED: 1. 2009, Kim Clijsters d. Caroline Wozniacki, 1.1 2. 2007, Justine Henin d. Svetlana Kuznetsova, 2.1 3. 2004, Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Elena Dementieva, 2.3 Lesson: CBS wants nothing to do with Kuznetsova!