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#TBT = “Throw Back Tennis” DownUnder: Serena – Venus XXVIII, Roger-Rafa XXXV

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  • Australian Open Finalists: 60 Major Titles
  • Venus Seeks First Major Title since 2008, Federer since 2012, Nadal since 2014
  • Tonight: Serena Seeks 23rd Major Title to Break Open Era Record
  • Younger Williams Sister Leads Matchup 16-11, 6-2 in Major Finals
  • Saturday Night: Legends to Meet after Missing Much of 2016
  • “King of Clay” Nadal Leads All-Time Major Record Holder 23-11, 8-2 on Outdoor Hard Court
  • “Throwback” Theme with Men’s Doubles: 38-Year-Old Bryan Bros. Seek 17th Major Title

It will be a weekend of disrupted sleep for tennis fans as the Australian Open championships live on ESPN – women late Friday at 3 a.m. ET, men late Saturday at 3 a.m. – feature four of the all-time greats with a combined 60 Major titles –Venus and Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.  In a Major first, none are under 30; in fact, three are 35 or older.  Both matches will be reaired at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday morning, respectively, and will be available on demand on WatchESPN immediately following the conclusion of the match.

Tonight:  ESPN 3 a.m. ET / MID PT – Australian Open Women’s Championship:  Serena vs. Venus

A Williams Sister will win the Australian Open Women’s Championship on ESPN late tonight, Friday, Jan. 27, at 3 a.m. ET (midnight PT) in the 28th meeting between No. 2 seed Serena, 35, and No. 13 seed Venus, 36, the oldest matchup in a Major final in the Open Era.  The duo have a combined 29 Major titles between them – 22 for Serena (six down under) as she seeks a new Open Era record, one she currently shares with Steffi Graf (many of Margaret Court’s 24 came before 1968).  A win would be Venus’ eighth Major crown (her seven is second among active players) but first since the 2008 Wimbledon where she defeated her sister.

Chris Fowler will call the match with Chrissie Evert; Mary Joe Fernandez will report from courtside (link to the match on WatchESPN).  An encore presentation of the match will be seen on ESPN2 on Saturday, Jan. 28, at 9 a.m. and on ESPN Classic that evening at 6, 8 and 10 p.m.

The two – born just 15 months apart – have faced each other 27 times as professionals, with Serena winning 16, including seven of the most recent eight and six of eight Major finals.  They are 1-1 in Melbourne; Venus won in the second round of 1998 in their first-ever pro meeting while Serena took the 2003 championship in three sets to complete the “Serena Slam.”  (That match will be seen on ESPN Classic on Friday, Jan. 27, at 7 p.m.)  It is their only previous meeting in the Australian Open final.   Venus, who has not reached a Major final since Wimbledon 2009 (losing to Serena) is the oldest women’s finalist since Martina Navratilova at Wimbledon in 1994 (37).

Tennis notables preview the matchuphttp://www.espn.com/tennis/story/_/id/18563053/w2w4-experts-make-their-australian-open-championship-pick-serena-venus

All tennis on ESPN.comhttp://www.espn.com/tennis/

Tale of the Sisters’ Tapehttp://espnmediazone.com/us/tale-sisters-tape/

Past Matches and Special Programming Added to Tonight’s Schedule

To get fans ready for the match, ESPN Classic has added four past historic meetings of the Williams Sisters in Major championships to tonight’s schedule starting at 7 p.m. ET (two hours each):  2003 Australian Open, 2001 US Open, and Wimbledon from 2002 and 2008.

In addition, ESPN2 has added an encore of two programs focusing on the Williams Sisters:  at 1 a.m. the recent The Undefeated In-Depth: Serena with Common – an exclusive conversation between tennis champion and sports star Serena Williams and Oscar and Grammy Award-winning artist Common, followed at 2 a.m. by Nine for IX: Venus vs. which looks at Venus’ efforts for equal pay in tennis for women.

Saturday Night:  ESPN 3 a.m. ET / MID PT – Australian Open Men’s Championship:  Roger vs. Rafa

After taking much of 2016 off to recuperate from injuries, tennis legends Rafael Nadal (14 Major titles) and Roger Federer (a record 17) entered the first Major of 2017 seeded an unfamiliar 9 and 17, respectively.  Anyone who predicted they would meet in the final was being wistful, thinking with their heart…however correct it turned out to be.  The Australian Open Championship on ESPN late Saturday at 3 a.m. ET (midnight PT) in the 35th renewal of their storied rivalry.  Fowler will call the action with the McEnroe brothers, John and Patrick alongside.  To get fans ready, ESPN Classic has added three great Federer-Nadal championship matches from past Majors to Saturday’s schedule:  2006 Wimbledon at 11 a.m., 2009 Australian Open at 1 p.m. and the 2007 Wimbledon at Midnight, leading into the live telecast (link to match on WatchESPN).

  • Federer’s record 17 Major wins include four in Melbourne, and his most recent was Wimbledon 2012 although he has reached the final three times in the years since, most recently Wimbledon and the US Open in 2015.
  • Nadal’s 14 Major trophies include the 2009 Australian Open. Widely regarded the best clay-court player in history, the 30-year old Spaniard last reached a Major final at the 2014 French Open, winning his record ninth title in Paris.

While both players are rightfully lauded for their athleticism, dedication, stamina and class, the two could not be more different in style.  A tale of the tape:

No. 17 Seed ROGER                                                                                 No. 9 Seed RAFA

35 (Aug. 8, 1981) Age 30 (June 3, 1986)
Basel, Switzerland Birthplace Manacor, Mallorca, Spain
Married, twin boys, twin girls Marital Status / Children Single, none
6’1″ (185 cm) Height 6’1″ (185 cm)
187 lbs (85 kg) Weight 188 lbs (85 kg)
Right-Handed Plays Left-Handed
One-Handed Backhand Two-Handed
1998 Turned Pro 2001
302 (record) / 3 Weeks / Times Ranked No. 1 141 / 3
0 / 0 YTD Won/Lost 2 / 1
0 YTD Titles 0
1080 / 245 Career W / L 808 / 175
88 Career Titles 69
17-10 Career Major Final Record 14-6
11 Head to Head:  Overall 23
0 Head to Head: Australian Open 3
2 Head to Head:  Outdoor Hard Courts 8
7 Head to Head:  Finals 14
2 Head to Head:  Major Finals 6
1 Head to Head Starting in 2013 5
1 Most Recent Meeting (Basel, 2015) 0
$98,830,825 Career Prize Money $78,737,302

* – Stats are before the Australian Open, from ATPWorldTour.com

Bryan Brothers in Men’s Doubles Final Tonight on WatchESPN

After the Women’s Singles Championship, on Saturday at 5:30 a.m. the Men’s Doubles Championship will be on WatchESPN and the Bryan Brothers of California – the most accomplished male duo of all time with 16 Major titles – will play Henri Kontinen of Finland and John Peers of Australia.  Bob and Mike Bryan, 38-year old lefty/righty twins, have taken the title in Melbourne six times.  They have not won a Major since the 2014 US Open.

All Courts on WatchESPN

In addition to all of ESPN’s linear networks (ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU, etc.), WatchESPN has every match from every court at the Australian Open, including the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles, the boys and girls divisions and the legends and wheelchair competitions through the championships.

2017 AUSTRALIAN OPEN

Date Time (ET) Event Network  
Fri, Jan 27 7 – 9 p.m. 2003 Australian Open

Women’s Championship

S.Williams vs. V.Williams

ESPN Classic Encore
  9 – 11 p.m. 2001 US Open

Women’s Championship

S.Williams vs. V.Williams

ESPN Classic Encore
  11 p.m. – 1 a.m. 2002 Wimbledon

Women’s Championship

S.Williams vs. V.Williams

ESPN Classic Encore
  1 – 3 a.m. 2002 Wimbledon

Women’s Championship

S.Williams vs. V.Williams

ESPN Classic Encore
  3 – 5:30 a.m. Women’s Championship

S.Williams vs. V.Williams

ESPN

ESPN Deportes

LIVE
  5:30 a.m. Men’s Doubles Championship

M.Bryan / B.Bryan vs.

Kontinen / Peers

WatchESPN LIVE
Sat, Jan 28 9 – 11 a.m. Women’s Championship

S.Williams vs. V.Williams

ESPN2 Encore
  11 a.m. – 1 p.m. 2006 Wimbledon

Gentlemen’s Championship

Nadal vs. Federer

ESPN Classic Encore
  1 – 6 p.m. 2009 Australian Open

Men’s Championship

Nadal vs. Federer

ESPN Classic Encore
  6 – 8 p.m. Women’s Championship

S.Williams vs. V.Williams

ESPN Classic Encore
  8 – 10 p.m. Women’s Championship

S.Williams vs. V.Williams

ESPN Classic Encore
  10 p.m. – MID Women’s Championship

S.Williams vs. V.Williams

ESPN Classic Encore
  MID – 3 a.m. 2007 Wimbledon

Gentlemen’s Championship

Nadal vs. Federer

ESPN Classic Encore
  3 – 6:30 a.m. Men’s Championship

Nadal vs. Federer

ESPN

ESPN Deportes

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

Nadal vs. Federer

ESPN2 Encore
  7 p.m. – MID Men’s Championship

Nadal vs. Federer

ESPN Classic Encore

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

Therefore, the above listing Fri Jan 27 at 3 a.m. ET is actually very late on Friday night.)

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