FLUSHING, N.Y. — The first all-Russian women's final at the U.S. Open produced the third straight drop in television ratings.
Coverage of Svetlana Kuznetsova's 6-3, 7-5 win over Elena Dementieva drew a preliminary national rating of 2.2 for CBS, down 12 percent from the 2.5 last year when Justine Henin-Hardenne beat fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters for the title.
The rating means an average of 2.2 percent of the country's TV homes tuned in at any given moment. While the preliminary rating for this year's final was down, the actual audience was up — 9.7 million compared with 9.1 million for 2003.
The rating for this year's final and the championship match in 2003 were down sharply from the previous two years, when the Williams sisters faced off for the U.S. Open title.
The 2002 final, when Serena Williams beat older sister Venus in straight sets, had a 5.2 rating. The 2001 match, when Venus beat Serena, drew a 6.8 rating.
The rating is the percentage of all homes with televisions, including those where sets are not in use.
Champion Kuznetsova gets back to work
A few days before she became the U.S. Open champion, Kuznetsova walked into a drizzly night to play her quarterfinal match.
Shifted to outer court No. 11, it was Kuznetsova, opponent Nadia Petrova — and 23 fans at the start. No stats were kept. No major TV coverage. No big deal, by the looks of it.
"I don't have much publicity," she said later that day. "People do not know me as much."
They know the 19-year-old Kuznetsova better after the title match.
"I want success. I want to do something," she said. "I really want people to remember my name."
Kuznetsova missed a chance to win another title yesterday when she and Elena Likhovtseva of Russia lost in doubles 6-4, 7-5 to Virginia Ruano Pascual of Spain and Paola Suarez of Argentina.
At No. 9, Kuznetsova became the tournament's lowest-seeded women's singles champion in the Open era, which began in 1968. She thought it was worth calling her parents in Russia.
"My mom, she didn't watch the match. She said, 'What was the score?' " Kuznetsova said. Told it, her mother responded, "Wow, two sets. That's good."
After finishing that call, doing interviews and accepting congratulations, Kuznetsova did as she always does. She returned to the practice court and, as midnight approached, hit more balls before leaving the grounds.
"After the match, you have to clean up your game," she said. "It doesn't matter if you win the title."