Emma Raducanu returned to match play on Friday in Abu Dhabi, as news broke that the US Open will be broadcast by Sky Sports in the United Kingdom and Ireland next year after the sports channel confirmed it is has signed a new long-term rights contract with the USTA this week, and Netflix launched a trailer for its ‘Break Point’ series out in January.
We are very excited to partner with the USTA once again to deliver the US Open, one of the greatest Grand Slam Tennis tournaments in the world. We have had a great history with the USTA and remember Andy Murray’s 2012 US Open win as one of the great moments on Sky Sports. This is another huge sporting event for our viewers, and we look forward to bringing tennis fans more of what they love and welcoming in new fans to the sport. Jonathan Licht, MD Sky Sports, said.
Sky Sports and the US Open once enjoyed a 25-year partnership, but Sky stopped broadcasting the season-ending Grand Slam in 2015 when streaming giant Amazon Prime took over airing the event.
Now, after signing a five-year deal with USTA, Sky returns next year.
“Sky Sports will have access to all individual court feeds, broadcasting a minimum of 135 hours of competition throughout the two-week Grand Slam tournament,” A press release stated. “Across Sky Sports’ linear channels and on Sky Sports digital and social channels, extensive coverage will provide content for both existing tennis fans and new audiences.
“The agreement includes coverage of both the men’s and women’s tournaments, alongside respective double’s, mixed doubles, juniors, and wheelchair competitions.”
The decision was, no doubt, fuelled by Radacunu’s spectacular run in winning the US Open in 2021 when the then 18-year-old became the first qualifier, man or woman, to win a Grand Slam and won 10 matches without dropping a set.
Raducanu returned to the match court for the first time since ending her season early because of a wrist injury to play Ons Jabeur at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi on Friday.
Jabeur rallied from a set down retain the title she won last year, 5-7 6-3 [10-8]. in the exhibition match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi.
Raducanu, whom Jabeur replaced last year when the British No 1 went down with Covid in Abu Dhabi, came back from a break down twice to take the first set, but the Tunisian fought back to win the second and the match went into a deciding tiebreak.
Raducanu moved ahead 8-6 in the 10-point breaker, but Jabeur, who reached two Grand Slam finals at Wimbledon and at the US Open this year, hit two forehand winners down the line and won the final 4 points, sealing the win with an ace.
“Emma did not make it easy for me,” Jabeur said. “She is still younger than me, so take it easy please.
“I can’t really express how happy I am to see a lot of Tunisians following me, not just from Tunisia, but from the rest of the Arab world.”
Raducanu was due to play against Belinda Bencic in the women’s exhibition match last year, but she spent her stay in her hotel room after testing positive for Covid and Jabeur was drafted in as a late replacement.
“I am so glad this year that I was able to make it out of the hotel room,” she said. “Last year I had a bit of shocker.
“It’s amazing to play here in front of all of you. This is Ons Jabeur’s house, so thank you for having me.”
Having used her time off court to work on her fitness and strength with trainer Jez Green, Raducanu is hoping for a resurgence of form in 2023.
Sky’s interest in returning to tennis is also based on other British success, such as the men’s singles title that Andy Murray won in 2012 after finishing as the runner-up in 2008, as well as in the men’s doubles, which Joe Salisbury and Rajeev Ram from the United States won in 2022 and 2021, while Salisbury and Desirae Krawczyk (US) won the mixed doubles title in 2021 and Jamie Murray, meanwhile, won 3 consecutive mixed doubles titles from 2017 to 2019.
“We are very excited to partner with the USTA once again to deliver the US Open, one of the greatest Grand Slam Tennis tournaments in the world,” Jonathan Licht, MD Sky Sports, said.
“We have had a great history with the USTA and remember Andy Murray’s 2012 US Open win as one of the great moments on Sky Sports.
“This is another huge sporting event for our viewers, and we look forward to bringing tennis fans more of what they love and welcoming in new fans to the sport.”
Meanwhile, Netflix has released a trailer for its ‘Break Point’ series after filming a select group of players over the course of the 2022 season.
With the likes of Nick Kyrgios, Matteo Berrettini, Stefanos Tsitispas, Ons Jabeur and Taylor Fritz playing around the world with the Netflix crew in tow, some tournament organisers have grumbled about their intrusive presence and desire to be given access to areas normally out-of-bounds for the media.
‘Break Point’ takes us behind the scenes on the ATP and WTA Tours and promises to draw more fans into the sport following its launch on 13 January.
It is claimed that Formula 1 has been given a huge boost with a whole new set of fans thanks to the ‘Drive To Survive’ series that proved to be a hit, and now tennis is set to be given the glossy movie treatment at a time when the sport is trying to reinvent itself.
Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who are now either retired or entering the final chapters of their remarkable careers, have kept the game in the public eye over the last two decades, and ‘Break Point’ arrives at a time of transition for the game.
While finding new heroes is a job for everyone in the sport, Netflix has a global reach to recruit new followers to tennis and from a demographic the sport has been trying to attract for many years.
The Australian Open, Indian Wells and Madrid Masters and the French Open feature in the first batch of episodes next month, with the British summer events and the US Open covered as part of the second batch.
Traditionally, tennis events tend to be attended by more mature spectators, who love the sport first and are happy to watch whoever happens to be playing that afternoon, but new fans want more, and, as an example, are keen to get to know Kyrgios and his girlfriend Costeen Hatzi.
A glimpse into the private lives of Italian heartthrob Berrettini will be captivating for youngster viewers, with romantic fireworks expected around the first of those two players in this series after his split with fellow player Ajla Tomljanovic.
Jabuer’s inspirational story as the first Arab player to win major events on the WTA Tour also deserves to be heard by a bigger audience and, amid the hype this show will generate, a new set of fans should be watching tennis through fresh eyes next year.
The Formula 1 version of this show sparked an interest in drivers and the sport in general that contributed to rising viewing figures and increased interest over the course of 2022.
With such a boost, tennis could be seeing a new era next year.