Australian Open semifinal pulls 31.6 household rating

SANTIAGO, Chile — Forget soccer and telenovelas, Chile’s TV auds have eyes only for tennis.

For two weeks in a row in January, tennis scored an unprecedented trio of the week’s top 10 rated shows — the sport’s popularity soaring on a par with native son Marcelo Rios’ career.

The semifinal of the Australian Open (which Rios won) earned a 31.6 household rating, and the final (which he lost in straight sets) took 29.7 points to rank second and third in last week’s list — this despite the fact that the games were beamed live between midnight and 2 a.m.

Earlier in the month, at the Auckland Championship in New Zealand, broadcaster UCTV’s rating started off with 9.4 in the first round and reached 22.7 in the finals, which were won by the Chilean player.

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