The 2019 U.S. Open coverage on ESPN has grown in the ratings compared with last year on each of its first four days, the network said Friday. And that’s before Saturday’s primetime showdown in the year’s final tennis Grand Slam tournament featuring 15-year-old U.S. phenom Coco Gauff against defending champ (and 21-year-old) Naomi Osaka of Japan.
ESPN reported that viewership through Thursday’s two rounds, dominated by storylines in the women’s draw, has averaged 691,000, up 26% over last year, with each window outperforming the comparative one in 2018. That peaked last night with ESPN2’s coverage of Gauff’s three-set victory over Timea Babos to reach the third round of the New York-set tournament.
Viewership for the match peaked at 2.16 million late in the match, which Gauff pulled out in front of 14,000 at the main Louis Armstrong Stadium. She became the youngest female to advance this far in the Open since Anna Kournikova in 1996.
Gauff now faces Osaka on Saturday in a match to air live on ESPN2 at 7 PM. Osaka has become the No. 1 player in the world since beating Serena Williams in the final of last year’s U.S. Open, adding the Australian Open title to her short resume.
The men’s side of the draw has been comparatively sedate, with the main intrigue surrounding 38-year-old Roger Federer and his quest for a sixth Open title. Federer has started his first two matches in a strikingly low gear, dropping sets in each match before recording the wins.
ESPN is going all-in over Labor Day weekend, with 12-hour windows scheduled for Saturday-Monday starting at 11 AM ET. Tonight’s doubleheader, meanwhile, sees American Madison Keys plays Sofia Kenin at 7 PM ET, followed by men’s top seed Novak Djokovic against American Denis Kudla.
Other weekend matches will feature Nick Krygios, Caroline Wozniacki, Bianca Andreescu, Rafael Nadal, American Taylor Townsend and Alexander Zverev, and John Isner vs. Marin Cilic.
ESPN’s exclusive coverage includes more than 160 hours on TV and 1,300 more streaming live on the ESPN app via ESPN+ and ESPN3.