Tennis in the Big Apple: ESPN Serves First Ball to Last Ball Exclusively at the 50th Anniversary US Open


Tennis in the Big Apple: ESPN Serves First Ball to Last Ball Exclusively at the 50th Anniversary US Open

·         130+ Hours on TV; ESPN App home to 1,300 More, from all 16 Courts, via ESPN+ and ESPN3

·         Men’s Draw:  Will Legends Keep Dominating Final Sundays?   

·         Women’s Draw:  Seven Different Winners Last Seven Majors…an Eighth or Can Someone Emerge Dominant?

·         Serena Goes for Record-Tying 24th Grand Slam Title

·         Opening Night with US Open 50th Anniversary Celebration and Kelly Clarkson Performance

·         Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day on ABC on Sunday, Aug. 26


Each August the tennis world comes to New York for a late-summer party, and ESPN will have two weeks of exclusive live coverage from tennis’ fourth and final Major of the year, the 50th Anniversary US Open, beginning Monday, Aug. 27.  For the first time, all 16 courts will be covered, with 130 hours on television and 1,300 more streaming live on the ESPN app via ESPN3 and ESPN+, the new direct-to-consumer video service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer and International (DTCI) segment and ESPN.  The daily action from the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center will culminate with the Women’s Championship on Saturday, Sept. 8, and the Men’s Championship on Sunday, Sept. 9, both at 4 p.m. ET.

The men’s and women’s storylines could not be more different, yet each compelling in their own way:

  • Of the last 54 Majors, 46 have been won by either Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic (plus three each by Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka whose injuries make them unlikely contenders for the US Open title). In fact, Nadal and Federer – seeded No. 1 and No. 2 – have taken six of the last seven, three apiece with Djokovic back at peak level and taking the big trophy at Wimbledon last month.
  • Seven different women have won the last seven Majors (four were first-time Grand Slam champions) — Serena Williams, Jelena Ostapenko, Garbiñe Muguruza, Sloane Stephens (2017 US Open), Caroline Wozniacki, Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber the most recent, at Wimbledon.

ESPN2’s live coverage of the opening Monday night August 27 will begin with a celebration of the US Open’s 50th Anniversary and a performance from Arthur Ashe Stadium by Kelly Clarkson.

Also, on Sunday, Aug. 26, ESPN2 will air SportsCenter at the US Open at 1 p.m. to preview the tournament, followed by a one-hour review of Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day powered by Net Generation at 2 p.m. on ABC.  The stadium show will feature live performances from critically-acclaimed sibling pop group Echosmith, multilingual music sensations In Real Life, and a performance of “Shine” by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.  Television and film star Skai Jackson and Interscope recording artist Alex Aiono will co-host, along with Radio Disney’s Morgan.


  • The first five days, TV starts on ESPN at noon (an hour earlier than previous years) and will continue nonstop – transitioning on Monday, Thursday and Friday at 6 p.m. to ESPN2 – through both the day and the 7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM sessions until play is concluded.
  • On Labor Day Weekend, action starts at 11 a.m. all three days (ESPN2 on Saturday and Monday, ESPN on Monday before transitioning to ESPN2 at 7 p.m.) and likely will continue 12 or more hours.
  • Quarterfinal matches on Tuesday, Sept. 4, and Wednesday, Sept. 5, are on ESPN, starting at noon (to 6 p.m. or later, and resuming at 7 p.m.).
  • The women’s semifinals and championship will be played the second Thursday (at 7 p.m.) and Saturday (4 p.m.); the men’s semis and championship on the second Friday (4 p.m.) and Sunday, Sept. 9 (4 p.m.), all on ESPN. A one-hour preview show will precede the Men’s Championship on ESPN at 3 p.m.  Spanish-language ESPN Deportes will carry the women’s and men’s semis and both championships.
  • For the first time, fans will enjoy action from every court for men’s and women’s singles and doubles plus mixed doubles between the TV coverage and ESPN+ and ESPN3 on the ESPN app which begin with first ball each day – at 11 a.m. through Wednesday, Sept. 5, and at noon the final four days.
  • ESPN will also present the three doubles championships: Men’s on Friday, Sept. 7, on ESPN2 at noon; Mixed on Saturday, Sept. 8, on ESPN3 at noon, and Women’s on Sunday, Sept. 9, on ESPN2 at 1 p.m.
  • For the second straight year for the singles championships, an ESPN3 second screen experience, DataCenter, will provide match stats on the left edge and along the bottom of the screen, surrounding the match telecast.
  • ESPN3 will again provide a feed dedicated to press conferences and other events in the main press conference room at the Bud Collins Media Center all day, every day, beginning with media day Friday, Aug. 24.

About ESPN+

ESPN+ is the premium multi-sport, direct-to-consumer video service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer and International (DTCI) segment in conjunction with ESPN. It offers fans thousands of additional live events, on-demand content and original programming not available on ESPN’s linear TV or digital networks. Programming on ESPN+ includes hundreds of MLB and NHL games, hundreds of international and domestic soccer matches from top leagues around the world, thousands of college sports events (including multiple other sports from more than 15 conferences), exclusive Top Rank boxing, UFC (beginning in 2019), Grand Slam tennis, rugby, cricket, new and exclusive documentary films and series, popular studio shows and the full library of ESPN’s award-winning 30 for 30 films. Fans subscribe to ESPN+ for just $4.99 a month (or $49.99 per year) and cancel at any time.

Surveying the Fields

In addition to the stats above showing the contrast at the top of the ATP and WTA, more insights on the fields:


  • While the all-time legends mentioned above continue to dominate the final weekend of Majors, the sport’s stars of the future are closer and closer to being the stars of today. Sascha Zverev (21) is ranked No. 4, and Stefanos Tsitsipas (20) is suddenly in the top 15 while the top 40 includes Borna Coric (21), Hyeon Chung (22), Karen Khachanov (22), Denis Shapovalov (19), Andrey Rublev (20) and American Frances Tiafoe (20).  His fellow 20-year-old Americans Taylor Fritz, Michael Mmoh and 6-11 Reilly Opelka all show great promise.
  • At a hard court event, you have to consider 6-10 John Isner. The American recently reached the Wimbledon semifinals, a career best.


  • After last year’s U.S.A. sweep of the semifinals, the home crowd will have plenty of favorites to cheer for in addition to defending champion Sloane Stephens and six-time winner Serena Williams: Madison Keys and two-time champ Venus Williams are currently in the Top 20 with CoCo Vandeweghe in the top 25.
  • All of those seven women who have won the last seven Major titles are all good bets to prevent an eighth name joining the list. If none prevail, however, look for two-time Major champs Petra Kvitova or Victoria Azarenka to win it all…unless it’s 2016 finalist Karolina Pliskova or Elina Svitolina, both ranked in the top 10.
  • If it is Serena Williams the last woman standing, it would be her first title as a mom and her 24th Major title, tying the record held by Margaret Court.

The ESPN Tennis Team at the US Open:

  • 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. Currently the coach of Simona Halep, the No. 1 player in the world and recent French Open champion, he will serve as an analyst for men’s matches.
  • Cliff Drysdale, who was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in July 2013, has been with ESPN since its first tennis telecast in September 1979 (Davis Cup, U.S. vs. Argentina). He reached the US Open finals and is a two-time Wimbledon and French Open semifinalist.  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.
  • Mary Joe Fernandez, an ESPN analyst since 2000, 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.  She was the coach of the United States’ Fed Cup team for eight years, stepping down in 2016, and coached the 2012 and ’16 U.S. women’s Olympic team.
  • Mardy Fish, a former longtime pro who once was No. 7 in the world, is an analyst. The Minnesota native won six events on tour, an Olympic Silver Medal in 2004 and reached the quarterfinals of three Majors – Australia, French and Wimbledon.  He was the top-ranked American man in 2011 when he reached a career high of No. 7.  He retired after the 2015 US Open.
  • Chris Fowler – who joined ESPN in 1986, is the lead ESPN/ABC college football play caller and joined the ESPN tennis team in 2003 – is the primary voice calling 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 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 ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez and Pam Shriver and the British Fed Cup team.
  • John McEnroe won four US Open crowns – plus three at Wimbledon – 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 tennis Majors for ESPN. She joined ESPN in 1996 as a SportsCenter anchor, and later hosted the Little League World Series and X Games before focusing on tennis beginning in 2016.  She attended Drexel University on a tennis scholarship.
  • Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ coach since 2012, will serve as an analyst. He helped her to unprecedented success deep into her mid-30s – 10 Major titles, an Olympic Gold Medal and a stranglehold on the WTA No. 1 ranking.  A longtime coach, including great results over seven years with Marcos Baghdatis.
  • Tom Rinaldi will serve as a reporter and will call matches. Since 2003, his features and interviews have graced a wide variety of ESPN programs – including SportsCenter, Outside the Lines, E:60 and event telecasts such as Wimbledon, golf’s Majors, college football and more – winning numerous Sports Emmy Awards.
  • 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.
  • Rennae Stubbs, who enjoyed a long career in doubles – winning six Majors: four in women’s and two in mixed, representing Australia at four Olympic Games and for 17 years in Fed Cup, will be an analyst. She’s worked summer events for ESPN for many years, and for NBC at the Olympics and for Tennis Channel.

MORE TV & DIGITAL MEDIA, AT HOME AND ABROAD will have previews, reviews, analysis, the latest news, polls, videos and more:

  • Courtcast:  One-stop shopping for the fan who wants to keep up on the action while on the go, as well as get involved in the social media conversation.  As a multi-tool application with live events via the WATCHESPN syndicated player, it provides all-court scoring, match stats, shortstop implementation, poll questions that are discussed on television, a rolling Twitter feed with the latest from the ESPN commentators and a scrolling bottom line.
  • Global roundup: The latest from the top players around the world.
  • Digital Serve:  Daily original videos previewing the next day
  • Baseline Buzz:  Our staff weighs in on the hottest topics with a daily, written, roundtable discussion.
  • ICYMI: A look back at the best, quirkiest and notable results from the day.
  • W2W4: Previewing the most-anticipated matches for the following day.
  • US Open landing page: All the best US Open content in one spot.
  • US Open infographics: A look at the best of the US Open in numbers.
Past Great US Matches Available on Demand via ESPN+; Marathon on ESPN Classic

Fans can watch 65 great US Open matches from the past on demand from ESPN+.  Matches are available now through September 23.  The offerings go back as far as the 1971 Women’s Championship (Billie Jean King defeated Rosemary Casals in straight sets) and extend to the most recent three Men’s and Women’s Championships.  (Other matches described below.)

In addition, ESPN Classic will air a 70-hour marathon with many of those matches beginning Friday, Aug. 24, at 2 a.m. (Thursday at 11 p.m. PT).  The marathon will conclude with Andy Murray beating Novak Djokovic in five sets for his first Major title in the 2012 Men’s Championship on Sunday, Aug. 26, at 9 p.m. (to midnight).  Other highlights:

  • Pete Sampras defeated defending champion Andre Agassi 6–4, 6–3, 4–6, 7–5 in the 1995 Men’s Championship, Friday, Aug. 24, at 9 p.m.
  • Andre Agassi said goodbye to tennis after Benjamin Becker beat him in a 2006 third round match, Saturday, Aug. 25, at 10 a.m.
  • Serena Williams falls to Jennifer Capriati in three sets in a 2004 quarterfinal, Saturday, Aug. 25, at 5 p.m.
  • Venus Williams successfully defends her title, playing Serena Williams for the first time in a Major final in the 2001 Women’s Championship, Saturday, Aug. 25, at 7 p.m.
  • In 1984 and for the second straight year, Martina Navratilova defeated Chrissie Evert in the Women’s Championship, Saturday, Aug. 25, at 11 p.m.
  • John McEnroe edges Jimmy Connors in a fifth set tie break in a 1980 semifinal (the oldest match in the marathon), Sunday, Aug. 26, at 11 a.m.

 ESPN will provide multi-screen coverage on DIRECTV, ESPN3 and streaming live on the ESPN app. During the ESPN telecast windows for the first seven days, a six-screen mosaic will include the ESPN program, along with matches with commentary from five other courts. Production will be enhanced with press conferences, interviews and features that will be added during court changeovers and between matches.  All six screens can be expanded to full screen or picture-in-picture at the touch of the remote button.  In addition, DIRECTV will offer interactive social media options for fans, plus real-time scoring, draws, and on-demand highlights – all without leaving the match the viewer is watching.

ESPN International will offer extensive high-definition US Open coverage throughout the Caribbean, Oceania and Latin America including Brazil via its numerous regional media platforms.

  • ESPN Caribbean and ESPN in the Pacific Rim will televise the first ball through to the final in English, totaling more than 125 live hours. Additionally, Pac Rim will air two daily highlight shows as well as a 30-minute daily show totaling 50 more hours of content, again hosted by Stephanie Brantz and Mark Donaldson.
  • In Spanish-speaking Latin America, ESPN will televise a total of 180 hours of live action, as well as preview shows leading into the men’s and women’s finals.  Veterans Luis Alfredo Alvarez and Eduardo Varela will provide the Spanish play-by-play alongside analysts Javier Frana and Jose Luis Clerc, both former US Open competitors.  That coverage will be enhanced by an anchor desk at the USTA National Tennis Center, with hosts Nicolas Pereira (a former US Open competitor and juniors champion at the 1988 editions of the French Open, Wimbledon and US Open) and Carolina Guillen.  For the Argentina broadcast, ESPN will have reporter Agostina Larocca at the stadium conducting interviews and producing daily features for SportsCenterand ESPN’s complete line-up of daily news and information shows.
  • In Brazil, ESPN will air side-by-side telecasts on two linear networks, offering over 240 hours of live tennis action combined.  It will also air the daily Portuguese-language wrap up show Pelas Quadras.
  • Online, Latin America’s broadband service, ESPN Play (WatchESPN in Brazil) will offer more than 1,400 hours of live streaming, which will include exclusive coverage of 16 different courts.

ESPN Deportes will provide more than 120 live hours of Spanish-language content on television and via ESPN3, including singles matches through quarterfinals online with TV covering the semifinals and finals.

ESPN & the 2018 US Open

Date Time (ET) Event Network(s)
Sun Aug 26 1 p.m. SportsCenter at the US Open ESPN2
  2 p.m. Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day powered by Net Generation ABC
Aug 27 – Sep 5 11 a.m. US Open – up to 16 courts ESPN+


Sep 6 – 9   Noon US Open – up to 16 courts ESPN+


Mon Aug 27 12 p.m. US Open First Round ESPN
  6 p.m. US Open First Round ESPN2
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – First Round ESPN2
Tue Aug 28 12 p.m. US Open First Round ESPN
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – First Round ESPN
Wed Aug 29 12 p.m. US Open Second Round ESPN
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Second Round ESPN
Thur Aug 30 Noon US Open Second Round ESPN
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Second Round ESPN2
Fri Aug 31 Noon US Open Third Round ESPN
  6 p.m. US Open Third Round ESPN2
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Third Round ESPN2
Sat Sep 1 11 a.m. US Open Third Round ESPN2
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Third Round ESPN2
Sun Sep 2 11 a.m. US Open Round of 16 ESPN
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Round of 16 ESPN2
Mon Sept 3 11 a.m. US Open Round of 16 ESPN2
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Round of 16 ESPN2
Tue Sep 4 Noon US Open – US Open Quarterfinals ESPN
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Quarterfinals ESPN
Wed Sep 5 Noon US Open – US Open Quarterfinals ESPN
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Quarterfinals ESPN
Thur Sept 6 7 p.m. US Open Women’s Semifinals ESPN / ESPN Deportes
Fri Sept 7 Noon US Open Men’s Doubles Championship ESPN2
  4 p.m. US Open Men’s Semifinals ESPN / ESPN Deportes
Sat Sept 8 Noon US Open Mixed Doubles Championship ESPN3
  4 p.m. US Open Women’s Championship ESPN / ESPN Deportes
Sun Sept 9 1 p.m. US Open Women’s Doubles Championship ESPN2
  3 p.m. US Open Men’s Championship Preview Special ESPN
  4 p.m. US Open Men’s Championship ESPN / ESPN Deportes
  11 p.m. US Open Men’s Championship ESPN2 (encore)




Dave Nagle

As I write this on 11-11-21, it's now 35 years for me at ESPN, the only real job I’ve ever had. I joined merely to help with the upcoming America’s Cup in Australia. I was told it would be for three months at all of $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, Darlington, Indy 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, Wimbledon (16 times and counting) and the “other Bristol,” the one with a race track in Tennessee. These days, my main areas are tennis, UFC, boxing, network-wide ratings (by month/quarter/year), and corporate communications documents, including fact sheets, chronologies, lists and nearly 35 of the Year in Review press releases. UPDATE EXACTLY ONE YEAR LATER: Today, November 11, 2022, I am retiring from ESPN -- 36 years to the day I began. As I ride off into the sunset – top down and E Street Radio blaring – I do so with so many wonderful memories, proud of my contributions and a heart full of gratitude for the opportunity. 
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