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Rafa Resets Record Books Down Under

Nadal Earns 21st Major Victory, $690.2K in Post Value

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Tennis
Social Media
Published 
February 10, 2022
 | 
6
 min read

Fans who showed up to Rod Laver Arena for the Australian Open men’s final on the last Sunday of January hoping to witness history likely began to doubt its inevitably after Russian Daniil Medvedev sprinted to a two sets to none lead. But by the wee hours of Monday morning in Melbourne, a masterful comeback befitting an all-time great resulted in Rafael Nadal hoisting the Norman Brooks Challenge Cup high above his head for the second time in his career. The accomplishment on its own was remarkable – outlasting the world’s No. 2 ranked player in one of the sport’s most recognizable venues to earn a major championship. But, moreover, the victory placed Nadal on a pedestal all his own as the first male tennis player to win 21 major championships. The hope – or, in some fans’ minds, expectation – of a Nadal triumph shone a bright light Down Under. During the two-week event, official Australian Open social channels generated $5.61M worth of total post value thanks to 252.8 million impressions and more than 8.53 million engagements. We used MVP’s platform to analyze post value, engagements, and impressions across Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for each men’s and women’s quarterfinalist from the qualifying rounds until a week after the tournament’s conclusion to determine who drove discussion during the year’s first major.

Social Interest Spikes on Final Weekend

The Australian Open is the first significant event on the yearly tennis calendar and the lone major championship held in the Southern Hemisphere. The tournament’s location – more specifically, its time zone – means many tennis enthusiasts must shun sleep to watch the game’s greatest compete on the hard courts of Melbourne. But that does nothing to dampen discussion on social media. Even during the week leading up to the first round, the athletes who would ultimately comprise the men’s and women’s quarterfinals – along with the Australian Open’s official accounts – were averaging 94.1K impressions per post. That number steadily rose through the tournament finals, when it reached 303.5K impressions per post. Similar boosts were apparent when examining average engagements and value on posts. The average post value from men’s quarterfinalists was $5K during qualifiers but peaked at $34.1K on the final Sunday. The boost was even more evident on the ladies’ side, with an average post value of $10.8K in the final round equaling a 9.75x increase from the qualifiers.

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Barty Party Sets Stage for Historic Finale

Championship weekend was appealing for reasons beyond Nadal’s pursuit of history. Local favorite Ashleigh Barty did not drop a set en route to the women’s final, as she attempted to become the first Australian woman in more than four decades to win the event. Her resounding victories throughout the 2022 Australian Open stirred fans’ excitement, as was evidenced by her performance on social. During the course of the competition, Barty’s social content averaged $10K worth of post value – 3.6x that of the other seven women’s quarterfinalists. During the finals, that number jumped to $43.5K, as her posts during the round averaged 127.8K engagements. Her top post generated $54.3K worth of value, making it the fifth-most valuable piece of content shared by an athlete during the tournament. 

Historically, however, this year’s Australian Open will be remembered as the one that put Nadal ahead of all those who have ever played the game. He generated $690.2K worth of post value during the fortnight, along with 30.97 million total impressions. His most engaging post exhibited his pre-Final glee after defeating Matteo Berrettini, drawing 1.27 million engagements on Instagram. But Nadal saved his best for last. The Spaniard’s celebratory post received 7.54 million impressions – nearly 5x more than his average – and $168K worth of post value.

Praise from Peers Reverberates Online

The tennis community emphatically praised the newly crowned champions on social media, helping to elevate the tournament’s exposure in the days following its conclusion. Average engagements from official Australian Open channels in the week after the event numbered 9.9K per post, more than at any stage other than the Finals. Notably, the athletes’ peers weighed in, too. Alizé Cornet – who reached the Australian Open quarterfinals for the first time in 2022 – was still watching until the event’s dramatic conclusion. After Nadal completed his five-set comeback, Cornet shared a tweet that earned $54.6K worth of value, the highest among all posts from this year’s women’s quarterfinalists.

But it was the congratulatory messages from Nadal’s contemporaries that echoed the loudest. Prior to the event, Nadal was tied on the all-time leaderboard with Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer at 20 majors apiece. Though Federer declined to participate in Melbourne as he continued his recovery from knee surgery, Djokovic was expected to compete for his chance to reach 21 first. However, he made headlines in the week before the tournament as Australian officials revoked his visa and deported him due to public health concerns. Nevertheless, Djokovic applauded Nadal on social media after his victory. Three posts from the Serbian yielded an average of 2.28 million impressions and $152.8K worth of total post value. Federer acknowledged Nadal on social media in an Instagram story. For the purposes of this piece, we only included value from permanent content. However, MVP clients enjoy access to social valuation from ephemeral content such as IG stories.

Deep Runs Create Buzz for Fan Favorites

The social chatter was not limited to the champions and their performances. Fan favorites resurfaced or emerged during the two-week affair, helping illuminate the sport’s other stars. American Madison Keys reached her first Grand Slam semifinal since 2018, and she was eager to highlight her accomplishments along the way. Keys shared 53 social posts during the tournament, ultimately generating $199.4K worth of post value to lead all women’s quarterfinalists. On the men’s side, Berrettini used his semifinal run to separate himself from everyone other than Nadal on social. His Instagram content drew an average of 1.35 million impressions and nearly 241.8K average engagements. The activity helped generate $28.8K worth of post value, roughly 80% more than men’s runner-up Medvedev.  

Game, Set, Match in Melbourne

The lights have been dark at Rod Laver Arena for nearly two weeks, but the moments that took place on its court will resound for years to come. Ashleigh Barty further cemented her place in Australian tennis lore, while Rafael Nadal reset the standard for greatness in men’s tennis. Along the way, the pair collectively earned 40.15 million impressions from their legions of fans and exhibited the value of social media during tennis’s top tournaments. The next Grand Slam on the calendar is at Roland Garros – a tournament where Barty won her first major and Nadal has won a record 13 – and MVP will be your source of value insights from the clay court showpiece later this year.

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