Press Release

Posted by Dave Nagle on May 19, 2014

@ESPNTennis at the French Open: Live Matches Start Sunday, May 25

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50+ Hours on ESPN2, ESPN3 with 330 Hours; Nadal, Serena Defending Champions

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The second Major of the year – the French Open on the iconic red clay of Roland Garros in Paris – begins Sunday, May 25, on ESPN2 and ESPN3, the start of more than 50 hours on television and 330 via ESPN3’s presentation of up to seven courts on the days ESPN2 is on the air.  ESPN2 and ESPN3 will begin at 5 a.m. ET most days on weekdays through Thursday, June 5, culminating with the women’s semifinals.

After the opening day, ESPN2’s schedule will continue with an all-live telecast starting at 5 a.m. each day through Friday, May 30, and again on Monday, June 2.  The network will air live and same-day quarterfinal action Tuesday, June 4, at 1 p.m. and Wednesday, June 5, at 8 a.m.  ESPN2 will air both women’s semifinals live Thursday, June 6, at 9 a.m.

The ESPN Tennis Team, the best tennis team in television, in Paris:

  • Darren Cahill, who once reached the US Open semifinals and the Australian Open doubles finals and went on to coach fellow Australian Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi, has worked for ESPN since 2007.
  • Chrissie Evert, a Hall of Famer who joined ESPN in 2011, her 18 major titles includes a record six US Open titles.  She recorded the best career win-loss record in history, and this French Open is the 40th anniversary of her first Major title.
  • Mary Joe Fernandez, who played in three Major singles finals and won two Majors in doubles, won a Gold Medal in doubles at the 1992 and 1996 Olympics and a Bronze in singles in 1992.  An ESPN analyst since 2000, she leads the United States’ Fed Cup team and coached the 2012 U.S. women’s Olympic team.
  • Chris Fowler, who joined ESPN in 1986 and has hosted College GameDay on football Saturdays since 1990, has hosted tennis since 2003, branching out over the years to also call matches. His diverse resume includes hosting World Cup soccer, college basketball including the Final Four, the X Games and Triple Crown horse racing events.  Originally the host of Scholastic Sports America and later a SportsCenter anchor, in 2014 he becomes the lead play caller on ABC’s Saturday night college football, including the new championship game.
  • Brad Gilbert, whose flair and unique nicknames for players has enlivened ESPN’s tennis telecasts since 2004, parlayed his playing career – once reaching the quarterfinals of the US Open and at Wimbledon – into coaching Andre Agassi (six Major titles with Brad), Andy Roddick (US Open victory) and Andy Murray.
  • Patrick McEnroe, who has worked for ESPN since 1995, was the U.S. Davis Cup captain 2001-2010 and in 2007 the team won its first championship since 1995.  A three-time singles All-American at Stanford – where the team won NCAA titles in 1986 and 1988 – he is General Manager, USTA Elite Player Development.  He won the 1992 French Open doubles title and reached the 1991 Australian Open semifinals in singles.
  • Pam Shriver, who started working for ESPN in 1990, long before her Hall of Fame career ended, played in the US Open finals at age 16 (losing to Evert) and won 21 Grand Slam titles in women’s doubles (another in Mixed) including five at the US Open plus a Gold Medal in doubles at the 1988 Olympics.

For the seventh consecutive year, ESPN2 is working with Tennis Channel to bring viewers an almost around-the-clock tournament experience, with each channel cross-promoting the other’s schedule.

Surveying the Fields

  • On both the men’s and women’s side, the defending champion is the top-ranked player in the world and to many the prohibitive favorite.  However, with some upheaval among the top players of recent years with injuries and some recent surprising results by younger, emerging players, there’s plenty of reasons to think another woman may end up holding the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen and a different man will raise the Coupe des Mousquetaires.

MEN

  • If this is Paris, it must be Rafael Nadal.  The “King of Clay” has won eight of his 13 Major titles on the red clay of Roland Garros where his lifetime record is an amazing 59-1.  Overall, he has 44 career titles on clay, including two of his three titles this year.
  • “Not so fast,” as college football’s Lee Corso would say.  No. 2 Novak Djokovic is focused on completing a career Grand Slam with a win in Paris, and this past Sunday outdueled Nadal in the final on the clay in Rome, the final tune-up leading to the clay-court Major.  In fact, Djokovic has taken four straight matches from the Spainard since dropping the 2013 US Open final.
  • Other storylines in the men’s field:  can No. 3 Stan Wawrinka back up his first-ever Major in Australia with another?; the strong year to date for No. 4 Roger Federer, the 2009 winner, who at age 32 has appeared in four finals and had a second set of twins; and the rise of 23-year old Canadian Milos Raonic and 24-year old Kei Nishikori, the first Japanese player in the ATP Top 10.  Each has recently broken into the Top Ten and hit a new personal high in the rankings.
  • Thanks to injury and age, the “Big Four” of men’s tennis – Roger Federer (17 career major wins), Rafael Nadal (13), Novak Djokovic (6) and Andy Murray (2) – may not be quite the Big Four they have been in recent years.  However, their recent dominance – even if ending – is worth nothing.  They have won 34 of the last 36 Majors and comprise 26 of the last 28 Major finalists and 54 of the last 64.

WOMEN

  • Serena Williams comes to Paris with 17 career Majors, including two at the French Open.  The top seed has three titles this year, including Miami and last Sunday on the clay in Rome.
  • The biggest challenge to Williams comes from fellow 32-year old Li Na at No. 2, winner of this year’s Australian Open and the French Open in 2011.
  • So far in 2014, the top women’s players include two expected names, No. 3 Aga Radwanska and No. 8 Maria Sharapova (but No. 4 in 2014-to-date standings); two surprises, 22-year old Simona Halep at No. 4 and No. 10 Dominka Cibulkova (No. 6 year to date); and one who is both familiar and a surprise – No. 12 Ana Ivanovic, a former champion at Roland Garros who is No. 7 in the year-to-date standings.
  • Besides Williams, other previous winners in the the women’s field:  Sharapova (2012), Francesca Schiavone (2010), Svetlana Kuznetsova (2009), and Ivanovic (2008).  Two-time Australian Open champ Victoria Azarenka, currently ranked No. 5, remains sideline with a foot injury.  She has only played one match (Indian Wells in March) since the Australian Open.
  • Others with the firepower to go deep:  21-year-old American Sloane Stephens at No. 16 and always plays her best at the Majors, 20-year-old Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, and former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic, a three-time semi-finalist at the French Open who has played well this year.

DIGITAL MEDIA, AT HOME AND ABROAD; INTERNATIONAL TV

WatchESPN will deliver ESPN2’s live coverage of the French Open, accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the award-winning WatchESPN app, and streamed on televisions through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV to more than 92 million households nationwide via an affiliated video or internet provider.

ESPN3’s French Open schedule totals 330 hours with a multi-screen offering of up to seven courts and is available on the days the network is televising starting as early as 5a ET.  Matches will also be available after they take place via replay.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, ESPNPlay provide customers with extensive live coverage with multiple windows totaling over 500 hours in both English and Spanish on broadband platforms in addition to televised coverage throughout the regions.

ESPN.com will provide comprehensive coverage before, during and after the French Open, highlighted by CourtCast, which will feature all the live action from ESPN3.  As always, it will also include real-time scoring from all courts, plus continuous live polling with results revealed immediately in ESPN2’s telecasts.  CourtCast will also provide an augmented social media feed (Twitter and Facebook) from the players, analysts and writers. In addition, CourtCast will host a Scribble live blog starting with the semifinals through the men’s final. And, of course, ESPN.com will have the latest news, analysis, schedules and more.

Fans can watch Digital Serve daily with ESPN2 commentators discussing the latest action and previewing key matches.  Other highlights include:

  • Leading into the French Open, Peter Bodo, Greg Garber and Kamakski Tandon will get fans ready for the year’s second Major with features and analysis, with topics including who’s hot and who’s not, why Americans struggle on clay, can Serena Williams defend her title, the tale of former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic and whether Rafael Nadal will catch Roger Federer in career Major titles.
  • The Latest Dirt:  daily notebook roundup of all the day’s action;
  • Daily columns by Garber reacting to the biggest upsets and best matches.
  • Center Court:  a tennis video show featured each week on all the major news from Roland Garros;
  • What We Learned:  ESPN.com senior writer Greg Garber and others will highlight the day’s news and notes with quick video snippets on the overlooked storylines.
  • 60-Second Slice:  everything that transpired that day in a one-minute video.
  • The Shank – mis-hits and mis-steps each day presented in a blog using social media, photos and more.

espnW.com

  • Complete analysis of the women’s draw when it is announced.
  • Jim Caple will provide on-site coverage for espnW.com (and ESPN.com), including daily columns and analysis of matches.
  • Daily espnW.com analysis segments from the French Open.
  • Weekly video reports from The Word, discussing play to date.

ESPN Interactive TV, available on DIRECTV the first eight days of the tournament, will present the French Open showing ESPN2 or Tennis Channel’s live coverage along with five other courts available with commentary.  Other features include interactive data, the tournament draw, up-to-date scores, and daily order of play.

ESPN International will present over 100 hours of live French Open coverage to more than 50 countries in Spanish-speaking Latin America and the Caribbean on its pan-regional and regional networks.  Matches will be chosen based on local interest, and commentary will be offered in English and Spanish, with expert analysis provided by two Spanish-speaking announce teams: Luis Alvarez and Javier Frana and Eduardo Varela and Jose Luis Clerc whom will be on site in Paris, along with reporter Nicolas Pereira.

In addition to both SD, HD and authenticated platforms, ESPN International’s broadband service, ESPN Play, will stream over 500 hours of live French Open matches, including the men’s and women’s finals.

ESPN – All Four Slams, All In One Place

Tennis has been part of ESPN since its first week on the air and provided many memorable moments, but it has never been as important as today, with the US Open joining the lineup in 2009, giving ESPN all four Grand Slam events, something no other U.S. network has ever done, let alone in one year. ESPN has presented the Australian Open since 1984, the French Open since 2002 (plus 1986 – 1993), and Wimbledon since 2003, with exclusivity for live television with all other rights extended in a 12-year agreement starting in 2012.  Exclusivity for the US Open in an 11-year agreement begins in 2015.  ESPN3 delivers an unmatched multi-screen presentation of the sport’s four majors, all ATP 1000 and 500 tournaments, WTA Premier Events and season-ending championships for both tours.

2014 French Open on ESPN2 & ESPN2 HD

Date Time (ET) Event  
Sun, May 25 –  Fri, May 30 5 – 10 a.m. Early Round Action  Live
   
Mon, June 2 5 – 10 a.m. Round of 16 Live
Tue, June 3 1 – 7 p.m. Quarterfinals Live & Same-day action
Wed, June 4 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Quarterfinals Live
Thur, June 5 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Women’s Semifinals Live

2014 French Open on ESPN3

Date Time (ET) Event  
Sun, May 25 –  Fri, May 30 5 a.m. – 3 p.m. Early Round ActionUp to seven courts. Live
   
Mon, June 2 5 a.m. – 3 p.m. Round of 16 Live
Tue, June 3 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Quarterfinals Live
Wed, June 4 5 a.m. – 1 p.m. Quarterfinals Live
Thur, June 5 5 a.m. – 1 p.m. Men’s Doubles SemisWomen’s Semifinals Live

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