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ESPN Tennis: New #1’s Kerber, Murray Lead the Fields at First Major of 2017 – Australian Open

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  • Two Weeks Start Jan. 15 with 100+ Live Hours on TV plus Afternoon Encores of Overnight Action
  • WatchESPN with 1,400 Hours – Every Singles, Doubles & Juniors Match – Live plus On Demand
  • WTA: Serena Williams Seeks Major Title #23; Great Opportunity for Someone New to Emerge
  • ATP: Two-Time Defending Champ Djokovic Seeks 7th Title while Federer, Nadal Return to Action

Newly minted top-ranked players Angelique Kerber and Andy Murray will lead the women and men’s fields at the Australian Open on ESPN TV and WatchESPN from start to finish beginning Sunday, Jan. 15.  Over the course of two weeks – culminating with the Women’s and Men’s Championships on January 28 and 29 – ESPN will present more than 100 hours of live television plus 1,400 on WatchESPN and the ESPN App which covers every singles, doubles and juniors match – more than 600 in total.

Last year at 28, Kerber surprised the tennis world to capture her first two Major titles – the Australian and US Opens – to end the year the No. 1 player in the world.  Murray – although a member of the ATP’s “Big Four” for many years – won Wimbledon to launch a terrific second half of the year which culminated with his First World Tour Final championship and his first No. 1 ranking.

Highlights

  • ESPN2 will present daily, marathon, overnight telecasts from Melbourne (at 7 p.m. ET the first night, thereafter generally at 9 p.m.) through the women’s semifinals; later action airs on ESPN.
  • More than 40 additional hours will be aired on ESPN2 during the afternoon recapping the action from the overnight telecasts.
  • WatchESPN will offer 1,400 hours starting each day with the first match of each court at 7 p.m. ET (the first 13 days of play). It will also present live the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles championships and the finals of the boys and girls divisions and of the legends and wheelchair competitions.

Tennis Channel and ESPN’s ongoing Grand Slam alliance includes the Australian Open and gives viewers near round-the-clock tournament enjoyment from Melbourne.  Each network utilizes its own commentators during its respective coverage and cross-promotes the combined ESPN-Tennis Channel television offerings.

Surveying the Fields

  • Is the ATP’s “Big Four” (Five??) still a thing? Of the last 47 Majors (nearly 12 years), five players own every trophy but two:  Roger Federer (17 career Major wins), Rafael Nadal (14), Novak Djokovic (12) and Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka (3 each).  The traditional “Big Four” (all but Wawrinka) comprise 43 of the last 50 Major finalists and 71 of the last 86 (with Stan, 46 of 50, 74 of 86).
  • But, focusing on more recent competition, is it a “Big Two”?….Djokovic – the two-time defending champ Down Under with a record six trophies from Melbourne lifetime – has captured 11 of the last 25 Major titles, reaching the championship eight other times. In that span, Murray has won three, while reaching the final on six other occasions. In total, the duo – born one week apart in May 1987 – have filled 28 of 50 Major championship slots, including six of eight in 2016.  Murray also has claimed the last two Olympic Gold Medals and ended the year ranked No. 1 in 2016, a first for him.
  • Meanwhile, Federer and Nadal are question marks entering 2017, each having taken much time off last year to mend from injuries. The 35-year old Federer has only one Major title since the 2010 Australian Open (2012 Wimbledon), albeit has reached the semis twice and the final twice in his last four Majors; the 30-year old Nadal has just one since the 2013 US Open (2014 French Open).
  • Only three women in the field have won a Major in the last five years: Serena Williams (22 Major wins, nine in that time) and last year’s first-time champs Angelique Kerber (Australia and US Open) and Garbiñe Muguruza.  (French Open).  The other winners in that span have either retired – Marion Bartoli (Wimbledon 2013), Li Na (Australian Open 2014) and Flavia Pennetta (US Open 2015) – or are currently sidelined:  Maria Sharapova (five, two), Victoria Azarenka (2, 2) and Petra Kvitova (2, 1).
  • There’s still Serena. Only for her could a year where she reaches three Major finals (winning one) and a semifinal be considered an “off” year.  But at 35, her ability to triumph seven times in two weeks is uncertain.  Should she accomplish that feat, it would be her 23rd Major title and a new Open Era record.  Steffi Graf has 22 (Margaret Court won 24, including 13 before 1968.
  • The Field. If someone else were to win, it could be almost anyone.  Especially with Azarenka, Madison Keys, Kvitova and Sharapova sidelined.  In 2016, Kerber and Muguruza broke through as first-time Major champions; will 2017 see new champions?  Meanwhile, the field includes former Major winners Svetlana Kuznetsova, Francesca Schiavone, Sam Stosur and Venus Williams.

The ESPN Tennis Team, the best in television:

  • 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.
  • Cliff Drysdale, a member of the Tennis Hall of Fame, he reached the US Open finals and is a two-time Wimbledon and French Open semifinalist. He has been with ESPN since its first tennis telecast in 1979.  Drysdale was a leader on the court – a top player for many years who was one of the first to use a two-hand backhand – and off the court, as the first president of the ATP.
  • Chrissie Evert, a Hall of Famer who joined ESPN in 2011, counts a record six US Opens among her 18 Major titles. She recorded the best career win-loss record in history, reached more Major singles finals than any man or woman (34), and reached the semis or better in 34 consecutive Majors (1971-83).  The AP Female Athlete of the Year four times, in 1976 she was the first woman to be the sole recipient of Sports Illustrated’s Sportswoman of the Year.  Played the Australian Open six times (1974 the first), reaching the finals every time, winning twice.
  • 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 led the United States’ Fed Cup team 2009-16 and coached the 2012 and ’16 U.S. women’s Olympic teams.
  • Chris Fowler – who joined ESPN in 1986, is the lead ESPN/ABC college football play caller and joined the ESPN tennis team in 2003 – will call matches. He hosted College GameDay on football Saturdays 1990-2014, and has hosted World Cup soccer, college basketball including the Final Four, the X Games and Triple Crown horse racing events.  Originally, he was the first host of Scholastic Sports America and later was a SportsCenter
  • Brad Gilbert, whose flair and unique nicknames for players has enlivened ESPN’s tennis telecasts since 2004, parlayed his playing career – once ranked No. 4 in the world and 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.
  • Jason Goodall will serve as a studio and match analyst. A one-time standout among Juniors in Britain whose career was ended by injury at 21, he later coached Jennifer Capriati as well as ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez and Pam Shriver.
  • John McEnroe, won seven Grand Slam singles titles during his storied career, which included 10 more major championships in doubles or mixed doubles. He also led the U.S. to four Davis Cup titles and won the NCAA’s while attending Stanford. He has worked for ESPN since 2009.
  • 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 served as General Manager, USTA Elite Player Development from 2008 – 2015.  He won the 1992 French Open doubles title and reached the 1991 Australian Open semifinals in singles.
  • Chris McKendry returns as host, a role she has filled at all the Majors for ESPN. She joined ESPN in 1996 as a SportsCenter anchor, and later hosted the Little League World Series and X Games.  As of Spring 2016, she focuses on tennis.  She attended Drexel University on a tennis scholarship.
  • Pam Shriver, who started working for ESPN in 1990, long before her Hall of Fame career ended, played in the 1978 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.

DIGITAL MEDIA, AT HOME AND ABROAD; INTERNATIONAL TV; ESPN DEPORTES; ESPN CLASSIC   

ESPN.com will once again feature Courtcast, a cutting-edge application presented by IBM, featuring official IBM tournament and real-time statistics, Hawk-Eye technology, a rolling Twitter feed and interactive poll questions. Digital Serve video, Baseline Buzz and daily global reports and analysis from contributors Greg Garber, Johnette Howard, Simon Camber,  Gaurav Kalrav and Matt Wilansky. Peter Bodo will add to the depth of coverage from stateside.

Preview stories:

  • What should we expect from Roger Federer?
  • The Big Four are back – but are they better? Assessing their odds.
  • Draw analysis and predictions from both tours.

Also, this week espnW will present an oral history of Serena Williams, by Alyssa Roenigk. She interviewed more than 20 people close to Williams including her mother Oracene, her sisters, coaches, competitors and sponsors. In addition, espnW will offer a slideshow of Serena’s 22 majors, and daily “You Make the Call” fan polls.

ESPN Social Platforms

@ESPNTennis, ESPN’s official tennis Twitter account, and ESPN Tennis’ official Facebook page will be posting additional, exclusive content including interviews, profiles and more behind-the-scenes looks of the Australian Open.

ESPN Interactive TV will present a six-screen mosaic on DIRECTV featuring the ESPN/Tennis Channel linear feed and five TV courts, during the first seven days of the tournament.  Allen Bestwick will serve as the studio host and is joined by announcers Chanda Rubin, Jeff Tarango, Leif Shiras, Elise Burgin, Doug Adler, Nick Lester, Christen Bartelt, Sam Gore, Mark Donaldson and Brian Webber.

ESPN Deportes will present extensive, live coverage of the tournament across multiple platforms.  ESPN Deportes+ — the Spanish-language broadband channel available via ESPNDeportes.com, WatchESPN and ESPN App – will present wall-to-wall coverage, streaming 140 live hours of all rounds, the quarterfinals and the women’s semifinals.  The men’s semis and both Championships will be televised live on ESPN Deportes.  Online, ESPNDeportes.com will also provide up-to-the-minute news and information including highlights, recaps, chats, and the daily web series “ESPiaNdo el Australian Open.”

ESPN Classic is airing memorable Australian Open matches much of this week, January 11 – 15.  Highlights:

  • 2010 Women’s Final, Serena Williams vs. Justine Henin, Wed., Jan 11, noon (also Fri., Jan. 13, 9 p.m.)
  • 1991 Men’s Final, Boris Becker vs. Ivan Lendl, Wed., Jan. 11, 7 p.m. (also Fri., Jan. 13, 11 p.m.)
  • 1995 Men’s Quarterfinal, Pete Sampras vs. Jim Courier, Wed., Jan. 11, 9 p.m.
  • 1995 Men’s Final, Andre Agassi vs. Pete Sampras, Wed., Jan 11, 11 p.m.
  • 2001 Women’s Final, Jennifer Capriati vs. Martina Hingis, Thur., Jan. 12, 3 p.m.
  • 2009 Men’s Final, Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer, Thur., Jan. 12, 5 p.m. (also Sat., Jan. 14, 7 p.m.)
  • 2015 Women’s Final, Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova, Fri., Jan. 13, 1 a.m. (Jan. 12, 10 p.m. PT) (also Sun., Jan. 15, 6 a.m.)
  • 2016 Women’s Final, Angelique Kerber vs. Serena Williams, Sun., Jan. 15, noon
  • 2016 Men’s Final, Novak Djokovic vs. Andy Murray, Sun., Jan. 15, 2 p.m.

ESPN International will increase its television coverage to more than 140 hours of live HD action to tennis fans via its networks in Latin America and the Caribbean.  Showcasing the biggest names in tennis, broadcasts will air in three languages, including Spanish in Mexico, Central America & South America; Portuguese in Brazil; and English in the Caribbean.  ESPN+ Brazil will air over 80 hours of live complementary coverage throughout the early rounds, while ESPN Tres North and ESPN2 South will air over 20 hours of additional Spanish coverage. In addition, ESPN will also televise two one-hour recaps and a two-hour “Best Match of the Day” daily.   In Canada, TSN (English) and RDS (French) will again provide ESPN coverage on television and digital services, while in India, the SONY ESPN platform will carry live coverage.

ESPNtenis.com will have the following content:  A daily webisode called “ESPiaNdo el Australian Open”; an “applet” featuring real-time, point-by-point scoring of all matches; live scores, results and brackets; columns, chats and blogs by TV commentators and other writers; polls; the “Ask ESPN” feature, prompting users to send their comments/questions via the website; video clips with highlights of daily action and analysis; TV scheduling information, and photo galleries.

ESPN Play (Watch ESPN  in Brazil), ESPN’s broadband service in Latin America and the Caribbean will provide wall-to-wall coverage of the year’s first Grand Slam, streaming over 1,400 hours of live tennis coverage (a new high) from every available televised court, including the men’s & women’s quarterfinals, semifinals and finals. Live streaming action will be available throughout Latin America and the Caribbean in English, Spanish and Portuguese language.

ESPN and Tennis

Tennis has been part of ESPN since its first week on the air, providing numerous memorable moments from around the world, but it has never been as important as today, with the unprecedented position of presenting three of the sports Major events from start to finish (Australian Open, Wimbledon, US Open, with exclusivity at the latter two).   

2017 AUSTRALIAN OPEN

(For these charts, all times are Eastern, and each day “begins” at 6 a.m. ET.

Therefore, the listing Mon., Jan. 23, at 3 a.m. ET is actually very late on Monday night.)

Date Time (ET) Event Network  
Sun, Jan 15 –

Fri Jan 27

7 p.m. All Courts (up to 16), all day (English)

Multiple Courts

(Spanish)

WatchESPN LIVE
Sat, Jan 28 12 MID Men’s Doubles Championship

Men’s Singles Championship

WatchESPN LIVE
   
Sun, Jan 15 7 p.m. – 7 a.m. Early round play ESPN2 LIVE
Mon, Jan 16 9 p.m. – 7 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Tue, Jan 17 3 – 6 p.m. ESPN2 Same-day
  9 p.m. – 7 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Wed, Jan 18 3 – 6 p.m. ESPN2 Same-day
  9 p.m. – 7 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Thu, Jan 19 3 – 6 p.m. ESPN2 Same-day
  11 p.m. – 7 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Fri, Jan 20 3 – 6 p.m. ESPN2 Same-day
  9 p.m. – 7 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Sat, Jan 21 9 a.m. – noon ESPN2 Same-day
  9 p.m. – 7 a.m. Round of 16 ESPN2 LIVE
Sun, Jan 22 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. ESPN2 Same-day
  9 p.m. – 7 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Mon, Jan 23 3 – 6 p.m. ESPN2 Same-day
  9 p.m. – 2 a.m. Quarterfinals ESPN2 LIVE
  3 – 6 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Tue, Jan 24 3 – 6 p.m. ESPN2 Same-day
  9 p.m. – 2 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
  3:30 – 6 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Wed, Jan 25 3 – 6 p.m. ESPN2 Same-day
  9:30 p.m. – 2 a.m. Women’s Semifinals ESPN2 LIVE
  3:30 – 6 a.m. Men’s Semifinal #1 ESPN

ESPN Deportes

LIVE
Thu, Jan 26 2 – 6 p.m. Men’s Semifinal #1 ESPN2 Encore
  3:30 – 6 a.m. Men’s Semifinal #2 ESPN

ESPN Deportes

LIVE
Fri, Jan 27 2 – 6 p.m. Men’s Semifinal #2 ESPN2 Encore
  3 – 5:30 a.m. Women’s Championship ESPN

ESPN Deportes

LIVE
Sat, Jan 28 9 – 11 a.m. Women’s Championship ESPN2 Encore
  3 – 6:30 a.m. Men’s Championship ESPN

ESPN Deportes

LIVE
Sun, Jan 29 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Men’s Championship ESPN2 Encore

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