Veterans, Rising Stars to Challenge Serena, Djokovic at Australian Open Starting Sunday

Tennis

Veterans, Rising Stars to Challenge Serena, Djokovic at Australian Open Starting Sunday

  • 100+ Live Hours on TV and WatchESPN plus Afternoon Encores of Overnight Action
  • WatchESPN Record Nearly 1,400 Hours – Every Singles, Doubles & Mixed Match – Live plus On Demand
  • Can Anyone Stop Serena Williams & Novak Djokovic? Defending Champs Won Three Majors in 2015

At the first Major of the 2016 tennis season, the Australian Open on ESPN networks starting Sunday, Jan. 17, fans will learn if the dominate storylines of last year – Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic who each used a victory Down Under to propel themselves to superlative seasons that included three Major victories – will continue or will they be challenged, by either familiar rivals or any of the sport’s promising prospects.

Over the course of two weeks – culminating with the Women’s and Men’s Championships on January 30 and 31 – ESPN will present more than 100 hours of live television plus a record of nearly 1,400 on WatchESPN (now on the ESPN App) which covers every singles, doubles and mixed doubles match – more than 600.

Highlights

  • After the first day of play (January 17 at 7 p.m.), ESPN2 will present daily, marathon, overnight telecasts from Melbourne (primarily starting at 9 p.m.) through the women’s semifinals; later action airs on ESPN.
  • Approximately 40 additional hours will be aired on ESPN2 during the afternoon with action from the overnight telecasts.
  • WatchESPN will offer nearly 1,400 hours starting each day with the first 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

  • In both the WTA and ATP, there is only one question: Will 2016 be more of the same – Serena and Novak seemingly unbeatable – or will others break through, or break back?
  • Is there still an ATP “Big Four”? Big Five? Just a Big One?? Of the last 43 Majors (nearly 11 years), five players own every trophy but two: Roger Federer (17 career Major wins), Rafael Nadal (14), Novak Djokovic (10) and Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka (2 each). The “Big Four” (all but Wawrinka) comprise 37 of the last 42 Major finalists and 65 of the last 78.
  • Of the last 16 Majors, only four active women have titles – Serena Williams (21 Major wins, eight in that time), Maria Sharapova (five, two) and Victoria Azarenka (2, 2), and Petra Kvitova (2, 1). The other winners – Marion Bartoli (Wimbledon 2013), Li Na (Australian Open 2014) and Flavia Pennetta (US Open 2015) – have retired.

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, her 18 major titles includes a record six US Open titles. She recorded the best career win-loss record in history. 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 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 the ESPN tennis team as a host in 2003, calls matches. He hosted College GameDay on football Saturdays 1990-2014 when he became the lead play caller on ABC’s Saturday night college football, including the new championship game. His diverse resume includes hosting World Cup soccer, college basketball including the Final Four, the X Games and Triple Crown horse racing events, after first serving as host of Scholastic Sports America and then anchoring SportsCenter.
  • Brad Gilbert, whose personality 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.
  • Jason Goodall, who played in several Grand Slams and has coached some of the most prolific women’s players including Pam Shriver and Jennifer Capriati.
  • 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 won the 1992 French Open doubles title and reached the 1991 Australian Open semifinals in singles.
  • Chris McKendry, a SportsCenter anchor since joining ESPN in 1996, serves as a host at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. 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 Aussie Open reports and analysis from contributors Jim Caple, Matt Wilansky, Peter Bodo and Greg Garber will add to the depth of coverage.  Preview stories:

 

  • A four-part look into tennis’ future. Is this the last year of this golden era? The aging stars are resolute in their quest to bring home gold in Rio, but after that, how much will we see the likes of Federer, Serena, Venus, the Bryans et al?
  • Johnette Howard looks at Roger Federer’s legacy. Although considered by many to be the all-time greatest champion , of late is more frequently the game’s foremost bridesmaid. .
  • What will the landscape on the tour look like in three years?
  • Draw analysis and predictions from both tours.

 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, seen on DIRECTV and WatchESPN, will present a six-screen mosaic, 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, Steve Weissman, 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 and WatchESPN, will present wall-to-wall coverage, streaming more than 100 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 the week. Highlights:

  • 2003 Women’s Final, Venus Williams vs. Serena Williams, Tues., Jan. 12, 1 p.m.
  • 2005 Men’s Semifinal, Roger Federer vs. Matt Safin, Tues., Jan. 12, 3 p.m.
  • 2009 Men’s Final, Rafael Nadal vs. Roger Federer, Tues., Jan. 12, 8 p.m. (also Thur., Jan. 14 at MID/9 p.m. PT)
  • 1995 Men’s Championship, Andre Agassi vs. Pete Sampras, Wed., Jan. 13, 5 p.m.
  • 2015 Women’s Final, Serena Williams vs. Maria Sharapova, Fri., Jan. 15, 3 p.m.

ESPN International will televise over 110 hours of live HD coverage 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+ in South America 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 newly launched SONY ESPN platform will carry ESPN 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 1,300 hours of live tennis coverage 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).

AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2016

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

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

Date Time (ET) Event Network  
Sun, Jan 17 –

Fri Jan 29

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

Multiple Courts

(Spanish)

WatchESPN LIVE
Sat, Jan 30 12 MID Men’s Doubles Championship

Men’s Singles Championship

WatchESPN LIVE
   
Sun, Jan 17 7 p.m. – 7 a.m. Early round play ESPN2 LIVE
Mon, Jan 18 9 p.m. – 7 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Tue, Jan 19 3 – 6 p.m. ESPN2 Same-day
  9 p.m. – 7 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Wed, Jan 20 3 – 6 p.m. ESPN2 Same-day
  9 p.m. – 7 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Thu, Jan 21 3 – 6 p.m. ESPN2 Same-day
  11 p.m. – 7 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Fri, Jan 22 3 – 6 p.m. ESPN2 Same-day
  9 p.m. – 7 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Sat, Jan 23 9 a.m. – Noon ESPN2 Same-day
  9 p.m. – 2 a.m. Round of 16 ESPN2 LIVE
  3 – 7 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Sun, Jan 24 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. ESPN2 Same-day
  9 p.m. – 2 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
  3 – 6:30 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Mon, Jan 25 3 – 6 p.m. ESPN2 Same-day
  9 p.m. – 2 a.m. Quarterfinals ESPN2 LIVE
  3 – 6 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Tue, Jan 26 3 – 6 p.m. ESPN2 Same-day
9 p.m. – 2 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
  3:30 – 6 a.m. ESPN2 LIVE
Wed, Jan 27 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 28 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 29 2 – 6 p.m. Men’s Semifinal #2 ESPN2 Encore
  3 – 5:30 a.m. Women’s Championship ESPN

ESPN Deportes

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

ESPN Deportes

LIVE
Sun, Jan 31 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Men’s Championship ESPN2 Encore

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Dave Nagle

It was 33 years at ESPN for me as of November 2019 (the only job I’ve ever had) after joining merely to help with the America’s Cup for three months at a robust $5.50 per hour. I like to say I simply kept showing up. I’ve worked on almost every sport, plus answered viewer calls and letters (people used to write!), given tours, written the company newsletter and once drove NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon to the local airport. My travels have been varied…I’ve been to Martinsville and Super Bowls; the America’s Cup (all 3) in San Diego and College GameDay in the sport’s meccas such as Eugene, Auburn, Lubbock, Stillwater and more; the NBA Finals and Indy 500; Wimbledon (16 times and counting) and the “other Bristol,” the one with a race track in Tennessee. These days, in addition to overseeing the Fan Relations, Archives and ESPNPressRoom.com, my main areas are tennis, ratings, and corporate communications documents, including ESPN’s history and growth.
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