June 26, 2016

ESPN Broadcast Schedule for 2016 Wimbledon

 

WimbledonTennis Panorama2011

ESPN & WIMBLEDON 2016

Date Time (ET) Event Network(s)  
Mon, June 27 – Sun, July 10

(no play Sun, 7/3)

6:30 a.m. All TV Courts (up to 15), all day; Live@Wimbledon WatchESPN Live
   
Mon, June 27 – Fri, July 1 7 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN Live
Sat, July 2 7 – 8 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN Live
  8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN Live
Sun, July 3 3 – 6 p.m. Highlights of Week One ABC Tape
Mon, July 4 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Round of 16, No.1 Court & others ESPN2 Live
  8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Round of 16, Centre Court ESPN Live
Tue, July 5 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Ladies’ Quarterfinals,

 Centre Court

ESPN Live
  8 – 2 p.m. Ladies’ Quarterfinals, No.1 Court ESPN2 Live
Wed, July 6 8 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Gentlemen’s Quarterfinals, Centre Court ESPN Live
  8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Gentlemen’s Quarterfinals,

No.1 Court

ESPN2 Live
Thur, July 7 7 – 8 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN Live
  8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Ladies’ Semifinals ESPN

ESPN Deportes

Live
Fri, July 8 7 – 8 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN Live
  8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Gentlemen’s Semifinals ESPN

ESPN Deportes

Live
Sat, July 9 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN Live
  9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Ladies’ Championship

Gentlemen’s Doubles Championship

Ladies’ Doubles Championship

ESPN

ESPN Deportes

Live
  3 – 6 p.m. Ladies’ Championship ABC Tape
Sun, July 10 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN Live
  9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Gentlemen’s Championship

Mixed Doubles Championship

ESPN

ESPN Deportes

Live
  3 – 6 p.m. Gentlemen’s Championship ABC Tape

From ESPN

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June 20, 2016

 

ESPN & Wimbledon 2016 – Djokovic Defends Title, Halfway to True Grand Slam
·         First Ball to Last Ball, Exclusive to ESPN
·         Daylong Coverage Totaling 140 Hours on TV – ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC
·         WatchESPN:  1,500 Live Hours from all 15 TV Courts; 3-Box Screen Returns for Semis, Championships
·         “Cross Court Coverage” Returns for Monday-Wednesday the Second Week
·         Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Doubles Championships Live on ESPN on July 9, Mixed Doubles on July 10
·         Serena Defends Crown, the Last Major She Captured, in Quest for Major #22 to tie Graf

 

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams, the defending Wimbledon champions, will arrive at the All England Club after very different 12 months and the defense of their titles will play out through the fortnight of ESPN’s exclusive coverage – from first ball to last ball – beginning Monday, June 27.  ESPN will present 140 hours on TV and 1,500 on WatchESPN with action on all 15 televised courts.  The action will climax with the Ladies’ Championship and the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Doubles Championships on ESPN on Saturday, July 9, and the Gentlemen’s Championship on Sunday, July 10, followed by the Mixed Doubles Championship.  By coincidence, that day will be full of championship competition from Europe as following the Wimbledon telecast, ESPN will air the final match of the UEFA European Football Championship 2016 live from Paris.

 

Highlights

  • The first five weekdays, ESPN begins at 7 a.m. ET for daylong coverage (scheduled to end at 4:30 p.m.).  WatchESPN gets started at 6:30 a.m. with all televised courts (up to 15 at a time).
  • On Saturday, July 2, ESPN again begins at 7 a.m., but with the one-hour Breakfast at Wimbledon before another day full of action (scheduled to end at 5 p.m.).
  • On the “middle Sunday,” July 3 – Wimbledon’s traditional annual day of rest – ABC will broadcast a three-hour review of the first week at 3 p.m.  ABC will also present encore presentations of the finals on the day they take place, July 9 and 10, at 3 p.m.
  • “Cross Court Coverage” returns the first three days of the second week, with ESPN starting at 8 a.m. and focused on Centre Court all day while fans will enjoy a “grounds pass” with matches from No.1 Court and elsewhere on ESPN2 beginning at 7 a.m. on Monday, July 4, and at 8 a.m. on July 5 and 6.
  • From Thursday, July 7, to the Championships, all the action is on ESPN, beginning each day with Breakfast at Wimbledon hosted by Hannah Storm (7 a.m. on July 7-8 leading into the semifinals, 8 a.m. on July 9-10, previewing the Championships).
  • ESPN Deportes will air the semifinals and Championships (July 7-10).
  • Saturday, July 9, will feature the Ladies’ Singles Championship along with the Ladies’ and Gentlemens’ Doubles Championship on ESPN with the Gentlemen’s Championship and Mixed Doubles Championship on Sunday.  All other division championships will be available on WatchESPN.
  • WatchESPN will offer the ESPN and ESPN2 telecasts, and a total of 1,500 hours from all 15 televised courts (Centre, Courts 1-3, 5-12, and 16-18.) presented from first ball to last ball each day, with action available on demand afterwards, plus AELTC’s daily Live@Wimbledon.  As in the past, for the semifinals and championships an additional  feed – “Wimbledon Surround” – will be added with three boxes – the primary TV view, plus two more, each focusing on one player.  Select matches each day will be available in Spanish via ESPNDeportes+.

 

The three-box offering on WatchESPN for the semis and championships, Wimbledon Surround, includes angles focused on each player, in addition to the match.

 

  • WatchESPN is accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets, connected devices and smart TVs and available nationwide across all major providers through an affiliated video subscription.

 

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

  • 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, he will serve as an analyst for men’s matches.
  • Cliff Drysdale, who was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in July 2013, 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 include three at Wimbledon.  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, 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 hosted College GameDay on football Saturdays for 25 years (1990 – 2014), began hosting tennis in 2003, branching out over the years to also call matches. His diverse resume includes hosting World Cup soccer, SportsCenter, college basketball including the Final Four, the X Games and Triple Crown horse racing.  In 2014 he became 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.
  • Jason Goodall will serve as an analyst and again voice features that study the action through statistics and computer graphics, as he does at the Australian Open.  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.
  • LZ Granderson, a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine (and formerly a tennis editor) and ESPN.com who has covered the sport for years, will provide his perspective in reports and features.  He often appears on SportsCenter, Outside the Lines and other ESPN programs.  He also works for ABC News as a contributor and has previously worked at CNN and the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
  • John McEnroe won seven Major singles championships, including 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 the US Open for ESPN since 2009, adding Wimbledon to his ESPN resume this year.
  • 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 this Spring, she focuses on tennis.  She attended Drexel University on a tennis scholarship.
  • Tom Rinaldi will serve as a reporter and will call matches.  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 – since 2003, winning numerous Sports Emmy Awards.
  • Hannah Storm, who joined ESPN in 2008 as a SportsCenter anchor, will host Breakfast at Wimbledon leading into the semifinals and Championships.  Previously, she spent five years with CBS’ The Morning Show and for NBC Sports hosted a variety of sports, including Wimbledon.  She also hosts the US Open, and was a producer on two ESPN Films tennis projects:  Unmatched, reviewing the rivalry and friendship between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, and Venus Vs. about Venus Williams and her fight for gender equity in prize money.
  • 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 three times in the Wimbledon semifinals.  She won 21 Grand Slam titles in women’s doubles (another in Mixed) including five at Wimbledon plus a Gold Medal in doubles at the 1988 Olympics.

 

Surveying the Fields

  • Is there still an ATP “Big Four”?  Is it a Big Five?  Of the last 45 Majors (more than 11 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 (2 each).  The “Big Four” (all but Wawrinka) comprise 41 of the last 46 Major finalists and 69 of the last 82.
  • Or maybe it’s just a Big One.  Djokovic has captured 11 of the last 22 Majors, reaching the championship 18 times in the last 23, and currently holds all four Major crowns – the first man to do so since Roger Laver won all four in 1969, a true Grand Slam.  Djokovic is halfway to matching that feat, the first man to snag Aussie and French trophies since Jim Courier in 1992.
  • Serena Williams is the defending champion (it was her fourth consecutive Major title), but is “stuck” on 21 Major wins, having fallen just short of tying Steffi Graf’s Open Era record of 22 in New York, Melbourne and Paris.  In that time, there have been three first-time Major winners (Flavia Pennetta, now retired, Angelique Kerber and Garbiñe Muguruza).  Could there be another in London?  A wide-open field makes predictions difficult.  Two-time Wimbledon champ Petra Kvitova is always dangerous.  And does Venus Williams (five Venus Rosewater Dishes on her shelf) have one more run in her?
  • Top Doubles Storylines:  The Bryan Brothers (Bob/Mike) have three Wimbledon titles among their record 16 Major doubles crowns, but are 38 and although they reached the final at the recent French Open haven’t won a Major since the 2014 US Open.  In her latest comeback, Martina Hingis has teamed with Sania Mirza to capture three of the last four women’s doubles Major titles.  Also, in mixed doubles Hingis has paired with Leander Paes to win four of the most recent six Majors.

 

MORE TV & DIGITAL MEDIA, AT HOME AND ABROAD

ESPN.com will have previews, reviews, the latest news and videos and more:

  • Courtcast: A multi-tool application with live events via the WatchESPN syndicated player, all-court scoring, match stats, “Scribble Live” conversations, poll questions, rolling Twitter feeds and scrolling bottom line
  • Five Things We Learned: Video series reviewing the top news of the day
  • 60-Second Slice:  Everything from Wimbledon each day in one minute
  • Digital Serve: Daily original videos previewing the next day
  • Baseline Buzz:  Peter Bodo, Greg Garber, Melissa Isaacson and Matt Wilansky weigh in on the hottest topics with a daily, written, roundtable discussion.
  • A special emphasis on Novak Djokovic, as he tries to win his fifth consecutive Grand Slam title and is halfway to a true Grand Slam.

                                                          

espnW.com

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

 

ESPNDeportes.com will provide live scores and draws, in depth news and coverage of Latin American players, columns, blogs, live chats, video, highlights and news, including ESPiando Wimbledon that will recap the day’s play. The site will also feature Slam Central, a special index page dedicated to all four Grand Slams.

 

ESPN Interactive TV, now in its ninth year at Wimbledon, will provide multi-screen coverage with commentary of five matches in addition to ESPN or ESPN2 network programs through the second Monday of the Championships, on WatchESPN and DirecTV.  Fans will also receive interviews, features, press conferences and studio analysis from the All England Club.  Host duties will be shared by Allen Bestwick and Trey Wingo.  Match and studio analysts include former players Jeff Tarango, Chanda Rubin and Fred Stolle, working with Chris Bowers, Doug Adler, and Mark Donaldson. In addition to the video offerings, DirecTV viewers can access results, schedules, draws and other interactive features through the “Red Button” application on their remote. In total, ESPN will provide more than 350 hours of coverage through this unique application.

 

ESPN Classic will cap its month of extensive Wimbledon programming with a 24-hour marathon of 10 matches starting Thursday, June 23, at 7 p.m.  The marathon will start with the 2004 Ladies’ Championship (Maria Sharapova vs. Serena Williams) followed at 8:30 p.m. by the 2007 Gentlemen’s Championship (Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal) and the 2008 Ladies’ Championship between the Williams Sisters at 11:30 p.m.  The marathon will conclude with the 2012 Gentlemen’s Championship (Roger Federer vs. Andy Murray) on Friday at 2 p.m. and the 2013 Gentlemen’s Championship (Andy Murray vs. Novak Djokovic).

 

ESPN International, the home of tennis’ Grand Slam events in Latin America and the Caribbean, will provide live Wimbledon coverage to more than 44 countries and 56 million homes via its television and digital platforms throughout the region.  ESPN’s Spanish language pan-regional networks will offer more than 120 hours of live tennis, focused on the top-ranked players in the world, while the regional networks will focus on players of local nationality. In addition to the live coverage, ESPN will offer daily two-hour encore presentations featuring the best match of the day, as well as daily compact airings of feature matches. In Brazil, ESPN is providing more than 170 hours of combined coverage between its ESPN and ESPN+ networks.  The coverage will be aired via simulcast on WatchESPN – ESPN’s Portuguese broadband service.  ESPN Play – ESPN International’s Spanish- and English-language broadband service in Latin America and the Caribbean – will offer 1,400-hours of live coverage from up to 15 courts simultaneously, covering every point from every camera court; ESPN Play will also offer the Wimbledon Surround “three-screen” service for the Gentlemen’s and Ladies Semifinals and Finals.  ESPN’s Spanish-language commentator team at Wimbledon will include Luis Alfredo Alvarez and Edurado Varela calling matches with analysts Javier Frana and Jose Louis Clerc, along with reporter Nicolas Pereira.

 

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Wimbledon Preview Conference Call with ESPN’s Chrissie Evert, John McEnroe

John McEnroe

John McEnroe

Wimbledon Preview Conference Call with ESPN’s Chrissie Evert, John McEnroe

 

(June 21, 2016) ESPN tennis analysts Chrissie Evert and John McEnroe spoke with media Tuesday to preview Wimbledon, which is exclusive to ESPN starting Monday, June 27.  Highlights of the call are followed by the full transcript.

 

Soundbites

On:  Are nerves the reason Serena is “stuck” on 21 Majors, one short of Graf?

  • I think it has gotten to her a little bit nerve-wise, no doubt about it. Especially against Kerber and against Muguruza, she wasn’t able to dig herself out of the hole like she has in past years, which was surprising to see that, because that’s what she is infamous for. When she’s down, she can get that next gear, that next level, play some great tennis. We didn’t see that in both those matches when she was in trouble. That tells me something is holding her back, and it could be nerves….(that said) In the last few years, she’s been good enough at 60%, 70% to win matches. Now I don’t think it’s going to win matches for her.  The competition has gotten better. They’re less intimidated by her. They have strategy when they go out against her. They’re just not intimidated. They know she’s human.” – Evert

 

On:  A quick look at the top men.

  • “Everyone is chasing Djokovic, there’s no question about it. Everybody else is trying to bridge the gap between Andy and see what else is out there. Rafa not playing, Roger has been struggling to stay healthy for the first time really. Losing to Thiem, Zverev, these guys can see light at the end of the tunnel maybe.  It’s going to be interesting this year, but clearly at the moment these guys have put themselves out here, Andy and Novak, and these other guys have to figure out ways to add to what they’ve got and to bridge this gap.” – McEnroe

On:  The Lendl-Murray Reunion.

  • I think Lendl did more for him than anybody. I think it’s a great combination because Lendl’s strengths are Murray’s weaknesses. Lendl, mentally and emotionally, he managed himself so well on the court. With Andy, that’s been sort of his downfall a little bit in the past, he’s gotten so emotional in these matches.  It was noticeably different when Lendl was coaching him. He was a bit quieter. He seemed to have himself under control a lot more.  I think it’s a great fit. I’m happy for both of them, that they’re working together. Again, that’s the best scenario for Andy Murray right now, to have him in his corner.” – Evert

On: Working with Raonic between the French Open and Wimbledon

  • He’s a great young kid, extremely professional and dedicated.  (My role is to) Try to hopefully help him a bit. I think he’s one of the contenders….. (he) has a big game, obviously got a lot of shots. One of the best serves in the history of tennis. He has a huge forehand.  I think he understands that he needs to be able to use that to his advantage, be more aggressive, take it to people.” – McEnroe
  1. I’d like to talk about Serena. Talk us through, how much do you think this chase for 22 has gotten to Serena, if at all? We saw her stall a little bit for 18 a couple years ago. I just wonder if there’s any correlation to be made, or Serena has put this to the side and trying to do what she always does, which is win the tournament?
    CHRISSIE EVERT: I think it has gotten to her a little bit nerve-wise, no doubt about it. Especially against Kerber and against Muguruza, she wasn’t able to dig herself out of the hole like she has in past years, which was surprising to see that, because that’s what she is infamous for. When she’s down, she can get that next gear, that next level, play some great tennis. We didn’t see that in both those matches when she was in trouble. That tells me something is holding her back, and it could be nerves.

    Saying that, I’ve always said, John can weigh in on this, too, after 30 years old, when you’ve been on the tour for 15, in her case maybe 20 years, you don’t have 100% on days every single match. That’s what she’s experiencing now, in the last few years. In the last few years, she’s been good enough at 60%, 70% to win matches. Now I don’t think it’s going to win matches for her.  The competition has gotten better. They’re less intimidated by her. They have strategy when they go out against her. They’re just not intimidated. They know she’s human. They’ve seen a couple bad losses, a couple nerve-struck losses. There’s a couple different ingredients.  In saying that, Wimbledon is the perfect time for her. I think the surface is tailor made for her game. Power and athleticism, John has said this, is the key to playing on grass.  If she can just focus with each match, her game, she can just play it out, and her game is still the best on grass as any of the other women right now.
    JOHN McENROE: The only thing I would add is obviously for quite a few years it’s been hers to win or lose. Going for the slam, obviously it’s done so rarely, the pressure is amped up that much more. She was trying to tie Steffi. When she lost at the Open, there was a big letdown. She didn’t play much at all. I don’t think she played for three, four months.  She almost pulled out of the Australian. I was extremely surprised, as well as most people, that she lost that. Not as surprised at the French, the way Muguruza was playing.  It’s not easy to try to do what she’s doing, to make history at this stage. Knowing that motivation is an issue at times between the majors has made it a little trickier probably.  There’s not that many people that wouldn’t pick her here. So it is a surface, if she’s playing well, she’ll win the tournament. But I think, as Chrissie said, there’s more days when you’re not playing that well, and that’s where she can get in trouble.

    Q. CoCo Vandeweghe has been playing pretty well on the grass. She reached the quarterfinals last year. Chrissie, how do you see her doing this year? Do you see her reaching the second week and possibly going further than her quarterfinals last year? On the men’s side, for John, del Potro is back after a two-year absence. After seeing him play a couple matches this year, how do you expect him to do at Wimbledon?
    CHRISSIE EVERT: Well, we’re seeing some of her best tennis. Again, I have to say that a lot of it’s because of the surface, grass. As I said before, athleticism and power have a lot to do with her success.  Again, her game is tailor made for the grass also. She doesn’t like the clay. She doesn’t have a lot of patience. She doesn’t like to move a lot. I think the grass accentuates the strengths in her game, which are the big first serve and the fact she can volley. She likes to come into the net and volley.  Craig Kardon I think has done a great job with her.

    You know, it depends on the draw really. It really depends on the draw. When you say, Can anybody make the second week? The draw, the weather conditions…  She’s capable very much. I think the last few tournaments will give her confidence. But, you know, she’s still building I think on the emotional and the mental part of the game, not getting down on herself. She’s such a perfectionist, I think that area can still improve.  Again, this surface is easier on her, shorter rallies, she doesn’t have to stay out there and be patient. She can hit that winner on the third or fourth shot. It just depends on if it’s working that day, she can beat almost anyone. But we’ve seen her with a slew of errors, too.  She’s still an unpredictable player. If she’s going to have any success, it’s going to be on the grass.
    JOHN McENROE: I like Juan a lot, but I’m believing he’s not totally sure of himself with his wrist. I talked to him recently. He says he’s getting better. Hopefully he is. I’m taking his word for it. The guy was 5 in the world at one stage. He battled back to the top 10. He can obviously still play.  He’s got to be able to not just slice his backhand. Obviously even at Queen’s and the week before, I forgot where he was the week before that, Stuttgart or something, he does predominantly do that. So it’s sort of a work in progress.  I think hopefully he’ll get healthy. That’s what it boils down to. He still has got game. He’s had a rough patch. I hope he gets it together. He’s on a protected ranking. He has some opportunities. He’s protected ranking 7, but he doesn’t get seeded. That means he could play anyone in the draw, which wouldn’t be the best thing for some of the top players, but it’s not the best for him either to try to get back to where he sort of deserves to be if he can stay healthy.
    Q. How did he seem to you when you spoke to him?
    JOHN McENROE: He’s obviously been extremely frustrated and upset. He’s been out of the game way too long. He was at 5 in the world, got hurt, then he battled back to the top 10. I think he was 6 or 7 when he got hurt again. 7, that’s his protected ranking. It’s a shame, in a way.  So, you know, I’m reading between the lines. I’m sure he’s still scared, a little worried. I don’t know. He’s tried all different types of surgeries and things. I didn’t get into the exact specifics.  Just as someone who hates to see someone lose a career over getting hurt, it’s sort of unfair when you see good guys get burned by injury. If he does get healthy, I don’t know if he’ll get all the way back to 5 in the world, but he can still do some damage.

    Q. Serena, in the last three slams, she’s lost to first-time slam winners. I wanted to sort of revisit, Chrissie, what you were saying before that to the rest of the field maybe she doesn’t seem invincible anymore. Players are beating her in big matches, and they’re players who have not won a slam before. I also wanted to ask about Andy Murray. He’s right there at all these slams. He won three years ago. How do you see his chance against Novak, if it were to come down to those two?
    CHRISSIE EVERT: As far as Serena, I’ll reiterate, from my observations when I’m calling her matches, I’m seeing these finals, again, it’s twofold. What I’m seeing is the fact that she hasn’t been able to, the last three Grand Slams, get herself into that next gear when she’s in trouble. This is what she’s been famous for in her whole career, especially last year when she was in like, what, nine three-set matches in Grand Slams. It was just incredible to me to see her down a set and a break against an Azarenka, down a set against Safarova, Bacsinszky, and come back. She was able to find that gear and that level. We haven’t seen that.

    But the other thing, maybe even more important than what we’re seeing now, is the belief we’re seeing from other players. That’s what Kerber talked about, that’s what Muguruza talked about. They are starting to believe they can beat Serena. We’ve never seen that in Serena’s career when she’s been dominant. There’s always been a little bit of resistance or a little bit of doubt, and they haven’t been able to play their game aggressively on the big points in the third set, and Serena has been able to.  It’s twofold: it’s Serena and it’s the field having that belief. Again, Kerber, Muguruza have talked about that belief. I think more and more players are finding that belief as Serena loses more and more, she becomes less and less untouchable.  In saying that, it sounds like a negative for Serena. But for her to even be in this position is historical. I believe, along I’m sure with John and other champions, that she still can get that one, which would tie her with Steffi. To me, this is her best shot.

    One thing I didn’t bring up is she did have a big week with Mackie Shilstone last week in Palm Beach. She did go over a lot of fitness. She hasn’t had Mackie really on her team until I believe last year, in the summer of last year. Hopefully that was a green flag saying, I want to go that extra mile, get in better shape for Wimbledon, come visit me. He did work with her. In saying that, that’s a good sign for her.

    Q. John, if you want to talk about Murray?
    JOHN McENROE: I got a firsthand look because I’ve been working with Milos. He was playing great. Andy stepped it up. Like Milos is trying to do with him, he’s trying to do with Novak, bridge that gap a little bit, try to figure out what little bit extra he can do. He’s obviously put himself in position numerous times.

    Novak went into the zone at the French. Andy was playing the best tennis of his life on clay for sure at the French and won the first set, looked great. In ways he’s getting closer. I do think his best chance, if you were to say in terms of surface, I think he’s best suited, just having the crowd more on his side here at Wimbledon. So I think his best chance, not that he can’t beat him at the Open, he beat him in Rome not long ago, but his record has recently not been good.  Novak has handled it tremendously, what he’s been able to do, like Serena. He’s won four in a row. He’s trying to do something that only one or two other people have done. He’s unbelievably consistent and prepared.  I think him adding Ivan, he’s trying to get that little bit extra, just like other players are trying to do the same. We’ll see how it all plays out.  Murray is playing great. He’s a great player, there’s no question about it. But at the moment there’s no question that the level that Novak is at is something that you rarely, if ever, see, that consistency. He’s impenetrable in a way. He’s able to play good offense. It’s a tall order for anyone.
    CHRISSIE EVERT: With Lendl back on the team, I think that’s all a positive. I think that’s going to give also him maybe a little bit more excitement. I think Ivan was so good for him mentally and emotionally more than anything. We maybe have seen a little bit more focus. I just think that’s going to be great.  I agree with John. With him playing at Wimbledon, his home crowd, him playing some of the best tennis of his life, playing more aggressively, and with Lendl back, I think it’s all looking good. It’s about as good as it’s going to get, let’s put it that way. If that’s good enough to win the tournament, so be it. But is that enough? That’s the big question. Djokovic is just playing so great.

    Q. John, sticking with Lendl, what are your thoughts on Murray’s reappointment of him? Do you think he can add that missing ingredient to that rivalry with Djokovic? How much would you enjoy a reunion with him at Wimbledon?
    JOHN McENROE: I just saw him the other day. Milos had a great shot at a set and 3-Love, playing really well. You have to credit him. He seized an opportunity and stepped up. That’s what great players do.  As Milos is trying to do, not just him but others, leave no stone unturned, try to maximize what they have. To me it’s not surprising. It’s not a no-brainer. But I think the fact that his best success was with Ivan, it makes sense to give this another shot given the circumstances.  It doesn’t surprise me. I think it makes people think if you get in someone’s head in any way, whether that can make a difference, whether he makes a difference. We all hope he can make any difference. He’s done an excellent job in the past.

    Everyone is chasing Djokovic, there’s no question about it. Everybody else is trying to bridge the gap between Andy and see what else is out there. Rafa not playing, Roger has been struggling to stay healthy for the first time really. Losing to Thiem, Zverev, these guys can see light at the end of the tunnel maybe.  It’s going to be interesting this year, but clearly at the moment these guys have put themselves out here, Andy and Novak, and these other guys have to figure out ways to add to what they’ve got and to bridge this gap.

    Q. Chrissie, we saw today that Mouratoglou thought it was strange that Murray hired Mauresmo. Do you think we’ll see a top player hire a female coach in the future?
    CHRISSIE EVERT: Who said that? I didn’t hear the first part of that.
    Q. Patrick Mouratoglou said it was strange for Murray to hire a woman as a coach.
    CHRISSIE EVERT: Wow!
    Q. He said it’s strange because they don’t know the men’s game as well as the women’s game.
    CHRISSIE EVERT: Yeah, I disagree with that. Billie Jean was a coach. I think she coached Todd Martin. Both of those players are serve and volleyers, played an aggressive game. I’m sure Mauresmo did a lot of homework. That’s kind of a little bit of a sexist statement.

    In saying that, I think Lendl did more for him than anybody. I think it’s a great combination because Lendl’s strengths are Murray’s weaknesses. Lendl, mentally and emotionally, he managed himself so well on the court. With Andy, that’s been sort of his downfall a little bit in the past, he’s gotten so emotional in these matches.  It was noticeably different when Lendl was coaching him. He was a bit quieter. He seemed to have himself under control a lot more.  I think it’s a great fit. I’m happy for both of them, that they’re working together. Again, that’s the best scenario for Andy Murray right now, to have him in his corner.

    Q. Every now and again there’s the subject of whether the men should go back and maybe play best-of-three sets in the early rounds at Grand Slams. John, I don’t know if you remember, but when you first started playing the US Open in ’77 onwards, the first rounds were played over three sets.
    JOHN McENROE: My memory is not that bad (laughter).
    Q. You’re one of the few that can remember it. Can you remember what the reason was behind it, what you thought of it, and what you think of the principle in general?
    JOHN McENROE: Well, the principle in general to me is that the players are so well-prepared, a lot of them, but especially the top players, with their teams, et cetera, I believe they’re more difficult because there’s such a premium on fitness.  Why don’t you see teenagers win? The breakthrough is harder physically and mentally. You don’t see the success as early. You have to sort of work your way up to that astronomical level of fitness in a way.  These guys to me prefer, even though there’s a stress obviously to playing best-of-five, especially if there’s delays, rain, if you had to do it a couple days in a row, they’re much more difficult to beat in best-of-five than best-of-three.  I would guess that the top players would shy against that, even though I think there’s an argument for it. We used to have 16 seeds and they did it. 32 seeds, you could think to yourself, I’m better than the 33rd player on. So you should be able to handle those people as well.  I think tennis should always think of ways to improve itself. I don’t think the door should be closed on saying that women would never play best-of-five or guys will never play best-of-three. I think it’s something that’s an ongoing discussion.

    I played tennis. Chrissie played for many years. Now we’re doing commentary. You sort of see it from both sides. You can see where the length of the match can be a problem because people’s attention span is much less than what it used to be. I’ve always wondered why at the very least there’s not tiebreakers in the fifth set in majors so there’s at least light at the end of the tunnel for the fans watching on TV or there, or the players.  But these are issues that need to be constantly addressed. The door shouldn’t be closed on that.  If I was coaching Djokovic, and I’m coaching Milos, part of his team right now, I’m not so sure I’d want them to switch it to best-of-three because I think the top guys are tougher to beat, like I said. These guys are extremely well-prepared.

    Q. Can you remember why they tried it in the first place?
    JOHN McENROE: It’s not going to change anytime soon.  I don’t remember why because even I, who was not known for my incredible fitness, I would like to think I was a reasonably fit person, but not quite as fit as these guys, I think it’s a little bit more of a roll of the dice. I did lose in the Round of 16 in the US Open in 1977, my first Open, 6-2, 6-3. It seemed like it happened too fast.  I don’t remember why it was changed other than perhaps the top players decided it would lessen their chances of a loss.

    Q. Do you think Novak Djokovic’s recent accomplishments have not been appreciated the way they should be, not getting as much press as a Roger Federer or somebody else, winning four in a row?
    JOHN McENROE: He’s a better player than I was, but I had a little bit of this because I was trying to break in with Connors and Borg, the top two guys. It was frustrating at times where you felt like people would gravitate or be behind these guys, and you were trying to get that same respect, not only from the players, but the press and fans.  Jimmy brought a lot to the table with his effort, Bjorn had this great aura and look. Roger is the most beautiful player I’ve ever watched. He’s like Baryshnikov. Rafa plays like an updated 21st century Connors, with that intensity, that point is the last point they are ever going to play.  I think people are starting to respect him more and more, to see the astronomical level of consistency he’s had, incredible success week in and week out. At the majors, if you look at his records, he’s approaching Roger’s records, which would seem insurmountable. 20 straight quarters, so many semis in a row. It’s amazing.  People are starting to understand and appreciate him more. He certainly had some of that. Also our sport is bigger where I am now in Europe than it is in the States. Obviously if we had more Americans like we used to with Chrissie and Connors, myself, other people, Pete and Andre, you go down the list, it would be helpful to the interests of our sport obviously if we had Americans.

    We have Serena in the women, but we don’t have that person in the men right now. That’s also an issue. That’s another part of the reason why I think he’s not appreciated as much as he could be.
    CHRISSIE EVERT: I think that Djokovic, like John said, came along in an era where you have two of the most beloved players, two of the most exciting players with a lot of flair in Nadal and in Federer. Nadal and Federer are so different, they had so many classic matches, I think there’s just an aura around their rivalry.  Then Novak came in, no drama, not a lot of flair, just the most dependable and most consistent and efficient player there was. As we see now, this guy quietly could just beat everybody as far as Grand Slam wins. He could just be the greatest of all time if he continues to go at the speed that he’s going.  He’s doing it in a quiet way. Again, there’s no controversy. There’s no drama. You always had that with Federer and with Nadal.  Then you look at Andy Murray. Andy kind of gets lost in the shuffle also because Andy is in an era with three of the greatest players of all time. Andy himself, if he was in any other era, he probably could have been ranked No. 1.  It’s a really exciting time I think for men’s tennis.

    Q. Chrissie, do you see something in Muguruza that could potentially separate her from the pack, where she could become the primary rival for Serena?
    CHRISSIE EVERT: Sure. I mean, I don’t think you say no. I mean, who is going to be next, the next No. 1 player, after Serena is gone? You’ve got to put your money on Muguruza because first of all, you have to have power in today’s game. When I look at the next three, I look at Radwanska, Kerber and Halep. I don’t think either of those three are going to end up No. 1 in the world. They don’t have that sort of overwhelming power. Muguruza does have it, very much like Serena, following in her footsteps.  Muguruza, she still has to mature a little bit. She’s still young. She still has to get probably a little more consistent with her results in the smaller tournaments. But when I look at winning Grand Slams, you’d have to say Muguruza, you’d have to look at Madison Keys, Azarenka, Kvitova, the power players more now more so than the consistent counter-punchers.  Yeah, she’s come a long way. I think she’s going to have a tough Wimbledon. It’s very hard to carry that momentum. Very few people have won the French and Wimbledon back to back, especially at that young of an age. That will be a real curiosity for me if she can carry that momentum and confidence and do well, think about last year reaching the finals, or is she going to have a hard time resetting, especially in dealing with people’s expectations.

    Q. John, you had that Wimbledon run late in your career when you lost to Agassi. Could you relate that to Roger Federer now? What do you see for Federer at this Wimbledon and beyond? Also the movie about you, did you have any input into that, and did you have any thought about the casting for you? And Chrissie, what about Madison Keys and Sloane? What do you expect from them from this tournament and on? What are they capable of achieving here and the rest of this year?
    JOHN McENROE: As far as the movie goes, at this particular point, I’ve had no input. I know they’ve reached out to both my and Bjorn’s agents. Had absolutely no involvement whatsoever in the casting. That’s simple facts. I’ve obviously heard of him, he seems a bit crazy, which may be a good thing. He’s done some good stuff, but I’m not that familiar with him as far as his whole career. That remains to be seen. You never know what could or could not happen.

    As far as your boy Roger Federer, I don’t know. I saw him play the last two events on TV. Clearly he’s trying to position himself here. His best shot, if he’s ever going to do it, would be here. Most people feel that way. Maybe Roger does at this point.  I don’t know exactly where he’s at physically. I mean, to me I think he has a far better chance than I did at that time, I would say, because he’s putting more into it, he’s leaving no stone unturned. He has people around him more so than I did. So I would say from that standpoint, if he were able to, with a little bit of luck, he could go a long way because he’s so comfortable on this surface.  I don’t know exactly his fitness. He’s been struggling to be on a court. In the best-of-five, that’s a different story. He hasn’t played a best-of-five set match for a while. That’s another issue. Other factors will come into it, like the draw, who he plays. All these things come into it.  It’s a little unpredictable. But after the string he had of 65 straight, missing the French, I think you start to say, Okay, how much longer are you going to see Roger around? You have to appreciate each time you see him at a major. He is going to be 35 in August, I believe.
    CHRISSIE EVERT: As far as Madison and Sloane, they definitely are the most talented young Americans that we have. If I take one at a time…Sloane has disappointed us. Our expectations have been higher of Sloane. I think she’s disappointed us in her attitude, if anything. She seems like in the past she hasn’t been as engaged in her matches. She’s received criticism from that.  Tremendous talent. She can do everything. I just think it’s a matter of her putting herself on the line. If she can put herself out there and play aggressively like she knows how to play from the first shot, I think she’s a totally different player. She just in the past has been waiting and kind of assessing her opponent, kind of playing counter-punch tennis. That’s not her game. Her strength is from the first shot stepping in and playing aggressively. If she can do that, she’s hungry to win, she wants to commit herself, I think she definitely could be a top contender.  By the way, she looks better. She’s getting better and better. But maybe she’s going at her own pace. Maybe we’re all trying to rush her.

 

I know we all tried to rush Madison Keys. I’ve known Madison since she was 10 years old. Now I’ve come to the conclusion that in her own time she will win a Grand Slam, but it has to be on her terms. She has to make all the decisions.  I think we’ve seen some signs from her winning Birmingham. We saw it last year when she won Eastbourne. This girl can play on grass. This girl, again, her serve I think matches Serena’s. I think it’s the only serve out there that matches Serena’s as far as power and being a threat, being unreturnable. I’ve always had a lot of confidence in Madison.  I think in her own time, the physical has always been advanced for her, her game, her power. Once the mental and emotional catch up, which I see signs of right now, I think she’s going to win some majors. I don’t have any doubt in my mind.

Q. John, I wondered how much you enjoyed your week at Queen’s and if it’s given you extra appetite for doing more the rest of the year and further ahead? Chrissie, doing a series on great shots of the game, Serena’s serve is obviously very big. Is there anything you could sort of add to that that’s not obvious to the layperson that goes into the production of it?
CHRISSIE EVERT: How was your week, John?
JOHN McENROE: My week was nice. Thank you for asking (laughter).

Actually, I stayed in Europe and went straight over to London from Paris. It was good to sort of spend a week, get a feel for what makes Milos tick. He’s a great young kid, extremely professional and dedicated. (My role is to) Try to hopefully help him a bit. I think he’s one of the contenders. If you told me four months ago there would be six, seven people that could possibly win this, there’s a lot of guys that can beat guys on a given day, but to actually win it, I would put him in the handful of half dozen guys. I think it’s nice from that standpoint to be part of his team.

As far as down the road, I think it always was for me hopefully something that wasn’t going to be for a couple weeks then, “Thank you very much.” Hopefully for him, and it ultimately is up to him, that he’ll be a better player in a year or two years than he is at this moment, even though I think he has a shot at winning it this year.  Obviously from 25 to 29, the next three, four years, I think it’s an opportunity for him to improve. I think he wants to do that. It’s great when you see someone that’s really working hard at maximizing what he’s got.  He’s had a good team around him before. Carlos Moya has done a real fine job when he’s been there. He has other people. Ricardo Piatti has been coaching him as more of a regular thing. I think it would be part of something where I pick and choose. The beauty that’s happened for me the last five years or so with some of the other players like Boris, Ivan was doing it more often, I don’t know how many weeks he’s going to do with Andy now, but if I use the word ‘part-time’, somewhere 10 weeks or less, that’s something that is much more in my wheelhouse, and perhaps it’s for Milos as well because he already has a good team around him.  This is the type of thing where it first started to feel like, Okay, if something nice came along, it’s good. It’s not a 30- or 40-week commitment like a lot of players have with a lot of their coaches.
CHRISSIE EVERT: About John and Raonic, very much like Lendl and Murray, I think Lendl’s philosophy and his strengths really helped Murray. When I look at John’s game, it’s like opposites attract. I think John has so many rare insights into playing grass court tennis, because he played so well.  I think John was known for his touch and his quickness around the court, coming into the net. If John can influence Raonic on any of these things, I think it would be a plus-plus with Milos. When you got with him, I liked it, I liked that combination right away. You can light a fire under him because you are a feisty player.  He’s very much in control out there. Like you said, he’s professional, he’s hard-working. But he needs a little fire and he needs to show. I think just a few little tweaks in his game would make all the difference in the world in him winning Wimbledon. I’m a big fan of that combination.

I’m not kissing your ass either, John.
JOHN McENROE: I appreciate that. Thank you.
CHRISSIE EVERT: I think Serena loads up really well from her leg strength. She uses her leg strength. She loads up well. She springs up, and that just gives her much more acceleration. That plus the racquet head speed is what gives her the power. So it’s that leg strength that probably we don’t talk about as much.  And the toss, it’s always in the same slot. She very rarely has a bad toss. It’s in that same slot where she can go wide or down the T, it’s unreadable.

Q. John, Milos came to the net very well in the beginning of the year at Australia, but there seemed to be differences at Queen’s with the forehand volley. Have you worked on the technical side with him in recent weeks, and if so, could you give some specifics, what your assessment was of him during the matches in Queen’s. And also, you don’t strike me as the kind of guy that is going to have a lot of fun sitting in the chair for three sets or even five. I was wondering how you were handling not having any ability to affect what’s going on on the court as opposed to sitting in the booth where you don’t necessarily have a vested interest in the outcome?
JOHN McENROE: I’m not the guy that can sit still very well in any situation. Certainly when you obviously have lost control, you try to add what you can, try to be helpful to someone before. I’d like to maybe do a lot of standing up than sitting down. Gets your body too stiff from sitting. I’m an energy person. I kind of hope that he can feed off some of my energy and intensity a little bit because that’s the way I am and that’s the way I’m going to be.  Ivan sat there for years and didn’t change his expression. It is certainly a more helpless position, and it’s easy to be the backseat driver: You should have done this, this is how you should do that. You have to be cognizant, or the fact I played for so long, and still try to play, I understand how difficult it is to actually go out there and execute.

As far as the first part of your question, I’m not going to get into the specifics of what we’re doing. I think that Milos is someone that has a big game, obviously got a lot of shots. One of the best serves in the history of tennis. He has a huge forehand.  I think he understands that he needs to be able to use that to his advantage, be more aggressive, take it to people. Exactly what he was doing in Australia, that’s the best I’ve ever seen Milos look, when he was playing down there. That’s sort of the game plan. With or without me that would be, I believe, something that he understands.

You always try to help someone with every part of the game. Just because I’m more of a touch player and have a better volley doesn’t mean that I’m never going to mention about his groundstrokes or serve or whatever. It depends. But obviously an important part of grass court play is to be aware of situations, court positioning. Volleying used to be more important, but I still think it can be important.  I think when you have a guy who is 6’5″ tall, he’s very imposing. If you ever heard me commentate, that’s a bit of a no-brainer. So hopefully he goes out there and is able to perform at the best of his ability and enjoy it. I would take pleasure in that if I could help him in that way.

Q. I noticed last week he was smiling a crazy amount on the court. I wondered if you had anything to do with that at all. He’s usually either stoic or ticked off.
JOHN McENROE: I can’t answer that. You’d probably have to speak to him.  Before I even started working with Milos, I knew him around. I have some people in New York, know people he’s friends with. To me, because I personally wasn’t able to get out on the court and enjoy it maybe at the end of the day as much as I would have liked, yeah, I play with intensity, but sometimes it was negative intensity which sometimes gets a little old. I think if there was one aspect of Roger Federer’s career that I’m jealous of is that it seemed like he really loved being out there, whereas people like myself or Sampras, most people really, are filled with angst, because it is intense and you don’t want to let down and all these other reasons you’re sort of brought up to believe is the case.  Obviously Milos has felt the best way for him to perform is to sort of keep an even keel and not show much emotion, go about it. I don’t think he hired me so I would say, Look, keep exactly the same way. I believe he’ll be a better player when he’s able to express himself more positively.  Murray, you watch Murray, Andy starts screaming at his box, whatever. People prefer he didn’t do that. It could cost him at times, maybe when he played Djokovic, not a lot of guys but a couple guys.  Maybe where Milos would be able to enjoy this. This is tough to do, but there’s great rewards. It is a little bit like, Look, trust me, I’ve been there, I didn’t do as good a job, and hopefully you can have more fun with this and enjoy it.  I believe he can. It’s not something where suddenly you’re going to start acting like Rafael Nadal. Over time, if you look at Novak, I think he’s done a great job of turning lemons into lemonade, things that were going on in the court in the past. Now he uses the crowd better, gets into it. He recognizes the situation, takes advantage of it. That’s a great quality he’s got now. I’d like to see Milos do that, as well.
CHRISSIE EVERT: That’s one thing that Serena is lacking right now, is maybe she should be enjoying the journey and the process a little bit more. She certainly doesn’t appear to be happy all the time on the court.

THE MODERATOR: Chrissie, you have to go, but we’ll take a few more for John on the line. I thank you for your contributions today.
CHRISSIE EVERT: Thank you. Bye, John. See you next week.
JOHN McENROE: Bye, Chrissie.

Q. John, there was an article that Pete Sampras did a while back. It was in the form of a letter to himself as a young player where he reflected on emerging into the game, giving himself a few tips. If you could go back, give yourself a tip or two when you were emerging, what would that be?
JOHN McENROE: Well, it would be to act more like Connors in the sense that he’d lose it and freak out, but he’d have his arm around someone, loving every minute of it, embracing, laughing it off, not thinking if you laughed, you’d lose your intensity. Or make a joke. Sometimes I thought things would be humorous if I said it, I didn’t say it, I said almost the opposite. So just enjoying it on the court more, which is easier said than done.  Certainly the way I played, I was sort of brought up to be really intense, not let down. If you let down, you lose it. God forbid, if you enjoyed it, had fun, your game would drop.  If I had let myself let that happen, I feel like I would have enjoyed it even more, even though when I look back I feel pretty lucky and fortunate. It’s at the time when I was competing to win these majors, perhaps I would have been able to enjoy it more in the later part of my career.

Q. Jimmy was your great rival. He interacted with the crowd, getting the crowd behind him. Did that piss you off? Also, has anyone since Jimmy approached that, had that skill set?
JOHN McENROE: It pissed me off, but I also respected it. I was like, Wow, this guy is like a maestro out here, he can do this. It drove me crazy, but I wish I had done it more myself, so… That’s as simple as that.  I don’t think there’s someone that I’ve ever seen that has controlled the crowd as well as Jimmy Connors, as far as I can see. The game is different now. The challenge system has changed. It’s better for the player. You feel like you’re going to get a second look. That’s comforting.

I think Nadal has played with the type of intensity and exuberance in a way. He didn’t get with the crowd, but he’s just so fired up, like every point is his last point, pump the fist, jump up, being down two sets to love even. He’d hold serve, he’d be screaming. I really respected that, especially a little bit earlier. When you see it a little more often, it’s tougher to do when you’re not winning as much. Even now you see him, even meaningless it’s considered, he still gets fired up.

I don’t think there’s ever going to be someone that lit it up. Kyrgios, he does things where he drives everybody crazy, but he does things where he’s magical in a way. If he actually ever puts a potpourri of things together in a way that it’s going to be difficult to do, because he’s going to need the right people, understand what this is all about, the commitment, all this other stuff. He’s got the type of personality where he could light things up, drive players crazy because of his skill, but also because his ability to sort of interact. He’s doing that when Milos is playing. He’s talking to everybody, always talking, drives you nuts. Some of it can be funny, what he said, some of it can be annoying, some of it can be complimentary. He always seems to be doing something.  You have different sides of the spectrum. But he’s someone that could potentially bring a lot to the table.

Q. John, your thoughts on Eugenie Bouchard’s game heading into Wimbledon? Have you been watching her closely enough to comment?
JOHN McENROE: You know, I haven’t seen her play enough to say for sure. I think because of the unpredictability of grass, in terms of how little people play on it, it would make things more open.  I haven’t seen anything, me personally, from the dozen or so times I’ve seen her play since she had these monumental struggles that would say, Okay, I’m ready to see her break through and make this huge move.  The fact she had a year where she was at the end of majors consistently would lead me to believe that if the right set of circumstances took place, the confidence could start building again.  I don’t see much confidence right now at all. But she’s out there. I think she’s back with Saviano. It’s sort of in a sense what Murray is doing. She clearly had this great one year where it was way better than anything she’s ever done.  It’s a work in progress. To me, I don’t see the confidence right now that would lead me to believe it’s going to be much of a run. Stranger things have happened.

Q. Your relationship with Milos, is it all business or have you become friends with him? What kind of guy is he?
JOHN McENROE: I think Milos is a really class act. I think he’s extremely smart. He’s a guy I knew a little bit from before. I was supportive, because I always try to be supportive of the young guys coming up. I saw something obviously with his serve where you’re like, Oh, my God, this guy has one of the greatest serves in the history of tennis. He’s a respectful guy. He’s very professional and dedicated. I want him to enjoy this more.  So I’d be supportive whether I was working with him or not. I have been because I know some people that are around him, kids of parents that I’m friends with, he’s younger than some of my kids. He has got a place in New York. I’ve seen him a few times not at the US Open or something.  I’m probably a little bit too old that, like, we’re buddies. But any part of a professional relationship, at least for me, you try to figure out what he’s about, what makes him tick. You sort of try to fit in because this is something he’s been doing for a long time, and I’m not going to walk in and go, Now you do it this way.  We had a good week of practice before Queen’s. He played well at Queen’s. He was up a set and 3-Love against Murray. He missed a backhand volley, a challenge, missed by a quarter of an inch to be at 4-1. He was unlucky not to win that game. He should have won the match in straight sets. But he didn’t.

Now we have to get him focused for Wimbledon, obviously which matters quite a bit more. I think hopefully he’s one of the half dozen guys that can win it. He has a good team around him. Carlos Moya I think has done an excellent job. I said earlier in this call, it’s the best I’ve ever seen Milos play, at the Australian, get him back to where he’s a presence, an intimidating one. He’s getting there. Hopefully Carlos will be back here and I’ll be doing commentating mainly. Hopefully I’ll be able to get a chance to be out there and support him. But my professional commitments with ESPN in doing Wimbledon, and some BBC, mainly ESPN, will preclude me from doing too much with Milos. But that was understood before.  Whatever I can do, I’ll be around, want to be supportive, discuss strategy with who he plays, obviously, and that other stuff.

Q. John, I’m obviously obsessed with Andy’s attempts to break into Djokovic’s dominance. Is there a chance he could be more susceptible after completing the career slam or is it more likely he’ll relax and be more formidable?
JOHN McENROE: That’s a good question. That’s a tremendous question that I don’t know the answer to. I would say Andy’s hoping the former takes place.  I doubt that (Novak) is going to let down. I think there may be, if anything, more pressure because he’ll be going for the actual calendar-year slam. This is something monumental. He’s already done something monumental.  He’s in a fantastic space. He’s unbelievably consistent, scary consistent. Andy played well, played a great first set at the French. This guy stepped it up to like a gear that was frighteningly good. It was like taking a body blow, a shot to the stomach. It was hard to recuperate. He made a little bit of a run at the end, but the damage had been done.  This guy, he’s very, very formidable. I think Andy is playing extremely well, actually the best I’ve ever seen him play at the French. First time I thought he had the chance to win it.

He’s as prepared as he possibly can be. I think his chances are better, for reasons I mentioned earlier. The crowd will be much more behind him. I think the game suits him better. He sort of has that cat-and-mouse thing. Novak has gotten much better at that, too.  It’s a tall order, but I think if you said to me he has a better shot of beating Novak at Wimbledon than the French, although he could have done it, I think he’s got a better shot.  He’s positioned himself as well as he possibly can. He hasn’t beaten him in a while. He beat him in Rome. He’s believing more. But that’s certainly another reason why I thought he brought Ivan in.

 

Related article:

ESPN Broadcast Schedule for 2016 Wimbledon

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Tennis Channel’s Nightly Wimbledon Primetime Coverage Begins on June 27

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(June 21, 2016) LOS ANGELES –Tennis Channel will broadcast its ninth straight year of Wimbledon Primetime beginning on the tournament’s Opening Day, Monday, June 27. The network will dedicate more than 200 hours to the event during its three-and-half hour evening show. The program will air every night of the two-week tournament, with encores following immediately, and run throughout the night and into the morning. Tennis Channel will televise 85 first-run Wimbledon Primetime hours in 2016, scheduled to begin the first night of the competition at 4:30 p.m. ET.

Based in the largest on-site studio on the grounds of the historic event, Wimbledon Primetime will feature the incomparable commentary of lead analysts and Hall of Famers Martina Navratilova (@Martina) and Jim Courier. They are joined by fellow Hall of Famers Tracy Austin (@thetracyaustin) and Lindsay Davenport (@LDavenport76). Combined, the women have won a total of 23 Wimbledon Grand Slam titles across singles, doubles and mixed doubles. In addition, Former Wimbledon mixed doubles semifinalist and Coach Justin Gimelstob (@justingimelstob), and legendary coach Paul Annacone (@paul_annacone), who is known for his guidance of the sport’s all-time best in Pete Sampras and Roger Federer, and more recently with American star Sloane Stephens, will also be a part of the on-air team.

Lead-host Bill Macatee (@BMacatee) has been with the show since its inception in 2008 and returns with his free-flowing conversational approach. He will be joined by fellow host Mary Carillo who will also provide analytic segments, panel discussions and special features throughout the tournament. Along with Macatee and Carillo, Sports Illustrated executive editor and senior writer Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim) will contribute analysis and in-depth essays in his distinctive storytelling style as the tournament progresses. The show provides a nightly look of the day’s action, relaying the biggest news, expert analysis and encore matches from the legendary grass courts of the All England Lawn and Tennis Club. Wimbledon Primetime offers American tennis fans, which are typically at work during live play, a centralized destination for everything that happens at the London-based tournament.

Wimbledon Primetime generally runs in two editions each night of the two-week tournament, from 4:30 p.m.-8 p.m. ET and 8 p.m.-11:30 p.m. ET. Heading into the first weekend and second week of the event broadcast times vary slightly, but normally air during the late afternoon Eastern Time. In addition, Tennis Channel will devote seven-and-a-half hours to the All England Lawn and Tennis Club’s highlights program throughout the tournament. This will air 3 a.m-3:30 a.m. the first week of the tournament, Tuesday, June 28-Saturday, July 2, and then from 5 a.m-6 a.m. ET on Sunday, July 3. The second week will feature four hour-long shows, in the early mornings Eastern Time, between Wimbledon Primetime encore broadcasts. For a complete schedule of all Wimbledon coverageplease visit: http://tennischannel.com/tv-schedule/daily-view/.

Tennis Channel will continue with its Grand Slam Staple Racquet Bracket: Wimbledon for the second year. Premiering live Friday, June 24, 8 p.m. ET. The show will look into the Wimbledon draw, featuring 1999 Wimbledon doubles champion Corina Morariu along with commentators James Blake (@jrblake), Steve Weissman (@steve_weissman) and Leif Shiras (@lshirock), assessing the many variables and surprises that could come into play at tennis’ most historic tournament.

Leading up to the tournament, Tennis Channel will air multiple classic Wimbledon matches. In addition, digital subscription service Tennis Channel Plus will air five of the most historic Wimbledon matches in recent memory ahead of the tournament. These include: Bjorn Borg vs. John McEnroe, 1980; Steffi Graf vs. Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, 1995; Lindsay Davenport vs. Venus Williams, 2005; Roger Federer vs. Rafael Nadal, 2008; Roger Federer vs. Andy Roddick, 2009.

During Wimbledon, Apple and Android users can access Tennis Channel’s Tennis Channel Everywhere app for free, regardless of whether they currently subscribe to the network. The app offers daily updates, highlights, Court Report news, instruction clips and player Bag Check segments. Most viewers who subscribe to the network through a pay-TV provider are able to watch the channel live through their mobile devices whenever and wherever they want, through a TV Everywhere function, at no extra cost. Tennis Channel’s website will host extra content, including “Racquet Bracket,” the network’s free tournament prediction game. Players can get an inside take from Tennis Channel’s analysts during the new Wimbledon draw preview show, Racquet Bracket: Wimbledon. Also, longtime tennis reporter Steve Flink will contribute columns, which will be filed regularly to the Tennis Channel website, www.tennischannel.com.

For more content, Tennis Channel’s social media platforms will offer a multi-platform experience for viewers to stay engaged across the entirety of the tournament. To connect with Tennis Channel, visit: Facebook (www.facebook.com/tennischannel), Twitter (www.twitter.com/tennischannel), YouTube (www.youtube.com/tennischannel), Instagram (http://instagram.com/tennischannel) and Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/tennischannel).

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2016 Australian Open Seeds Announced

Rod Laver Arena

(January 13, 2016) Tennis Australia has announced the seeds for the 2016 Australian Open. The seeds are as follows:

 

Men’s seeds Women’s seeds
1.   Novak Djokovic (SRB) 1.   Serena Williams (USA)
2.   Andy Murray (GBR) 2.   Simona Halep (ROU)
3.   Roger Federer (SUI) 3.   Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
4.   Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 4.   Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
5.   Rafael Nadal (ESP) 5.   Maria Sharapova (RUS)
6.   Tomas Berdych (CZE) 6.   Petra Kvitova
7.   Kei Nishikori (JPN) 7.   Angelique Kerber (GER)
8.   David Ferrer (ESP) 8.   Venus Williams (USA)
9.   Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 9.   Karolina Pliskova (CZE)
10. John Isner (USA) 10. Carla Suarez Navarro (ESP)
11. Kevin Anderson (RSA) 11. Timea Bacsinszky (SUI)
12. Marin Cilic (CRO) 12. Belinda Bencic (SUI)
13. Milos Raonic (CAN) 13. Roberta Vinci (ITA)
14. Gilles Simon (FRA) 14. Victoria Azarenka (BLR)
15. David Goffin (BEL) 15. Madison Keys (USA)
16. Bernard Tomic (AUS) 16. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)
17. Benoit Paire (FRA) 17. Sara Errani (ITA)
18. Feliciano Lopez (ESP) 18. Elina Svitolina (UKR)
19. Dominic Thiem (AUT) 19. Jelena Jankovic (SRB)
20. Fabio Fognini (ITA) 20. Ana Ivanovic (SRB)
21. Viktor Troicki (SRB) 21. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS)
22. Ivo Karlovic (CRO) 22. Andrea Petkovic (GER)
23. Gael Monfils (FRA) 23. Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
24. Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP) 24. Sloane Stephens (USA)
25. Jack Sock (USA) 25. Samantha Stosur (AUS)
26. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (ESP) 26. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
27. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) 27. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK)
28. Andreas Seppi (ITA) 28. Kristina Mladenovic (FRA)
29. Nick Kyrgios (AUS) 29. Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU)
30. Jeremy Chardy (FRA) 30. Sabine Lisicki (GER)
31. Steve Johnson (USA) 31. Lesia Tsurenko (UKR)
32. Joao Sousa (POR) 32. Caroline Garcia (FRA)

 

The official draw for Australian Open 2016 will take place at Melbourne Park on Friday 16 January at 10.15am. Australian Open defending champions Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic will attend.

 

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ESPN 2016 Australian Open Broadcast Schedule

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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

 

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.

 

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USTA and ESPN Expand US Open and US Open Series Coverage

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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., July 21, 2015 – The USTA today announced that for the 2015 summer tennis season, ESPN will broadcast over 1800 hours of live tennis action across it’s platforms as the exclusive live domestic television and digital media partner for the US Open and Emirates Airline US Open Series.  2015 marks the first year of an 11-year agreement between the USTA and ESPN, which will see the US Open carried on ESPN through 2025.
The unprecedented tennis coverage will feature over 200 hours of live match play on ESPN and ESPN2, with more than 1600 hours to be featured on ESPN3 – ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, a destination that delivers thousands of hours of exclusive sports annually.
“The opportunity for tennis to be seen across ESPN platforms affords the sport a stage that reaches far beyond the eyes of just the traditional tennis fan and into the homes of all sports fans,” said USTA Chairman of the Board and President Katrina Adams. “The ability to be top of mind throughout the summer is an incredible chance to highlight some of the greatest athletes in the world, including Serena Williams as she continues her historic pursuit of the calendar Grand Slam, and continue to grow the sport throughout the country.”
“We are delighted to work with the USTA to bring tennis fans even more comprehensive coverage of the most important tennis this summer between the Series and US Open over the next seven weeks” said Scott Guglielmino, SVP, Programming and Global X. “We are extremely excited for our first year of exclusive coverage of the US Open, giving us the opportunity to leverage our TV and digital media platforms to further engage fans with more ways and more hours to watch as the game’s greatest athletes compete.”
Over the five week calendar of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, ESPN2 will air nearly 70 hours of live coverage, while ESPN3 will carry more than 500 hours of action.  In total, there will be 34 consecutive days of coverage for these tournaments.  For the first time, fans will be able to access coverage on the Emirates Airline US Open Series main website – emiratesusopenseries.com – as well as the respective tournament websites, through the integration of the ESPN3 Media Player.  ESPN3 is also accessible on line at WatchESPN.com and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app.
During the 2015 US Open, ESPN and ESPN2 will combine to air more than 130 hours of live match play with more than 1100 hours of first-to-last ball coverage to be seen on ESPN3, which will also be hosted on the US Open website – usopen.org.  In an expansion of its US Open coverage, ESPN will feature play from 11 courts.
“This overarching agreement with and commitment from ESPN is incredibly important to the USTA and to tennis, at large, as it brings the sport to the fans on a larger scale than ever before,” said Gordon Smith, USTA Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer.  “The reach of ESPN is undeniable, and the ability to watch the US Open and Emirates Airline US Open Series throughout the summer, across a number of ESPN’s platforms markedly enhances the experience for the tennis viewer.”
For the 2015 US Open, the men’s singles final will return to its traditional Sunday (September 13) afternoon timeslot and the women’s singles final will be scheduled for Saturday (September 12) afternoon – both finals will air on ESPN.  The men’s singles semifinals will take place on Friday (September 11) afternoon, with the women’s singles semifinals scheduled for primetime on the second Thursday (September 10) night of the tournament. This schedule reaffirms the USTA’s commitment to providing a day of rest for singles competitors between the singles semifinals and singles finals.
Prior to the start of the tournament, ESPN will kick-off its coverage of the US Open on Sunday, August 30 with a broadcast of Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess from 1:00 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. (ET) and a US Open preview show from 2:00 – 2:30 p.m. (ET), both to be broadcast on ESPN2.  Additionally, leading into the men’s singles final, ESPN will televise a 30-minute “Blue Carpet” special, enabling the fans to get an inside look at the excitement, pageantry and celebrity surrounding the day.
In addition to ESPN’s coverage at the Open, Tennis Channel, for the seventh year, will offer pre and post-match coverage, analysis, and match encores throughout the two weeks of the US Open.
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ESPN Tennis Conference Call with Chris Evert, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver

(March 16, 2015) ESPN tennis analysts Chrissie Evert, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver spoke with media on Monday. Currently, ESPN3 is providing live all-day coverage from the three main stadiums at the BNP Paribas Open, with ESPN television joining on Thursday, March 19, through Sunday’s women’s and men’s championships.

Soundbites:

How good is Madison Keys?

· “I saw her at age 12. I think that everybody that saw her at that point thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, there’s so much raw power, that if she could just control it and harness it, she’s going to be a great player.’ Very much like a Serena, she has the second best serve out there, which she’s going to win a lot of free points holding her serve…But she’s got it all. She has natural ease and power in her shots.” – Evert

· “The first time I really came out of a match with my jaw sort of dropping was a couple years ago at the Australian Open when she beat Paszek, beat her routinely. She beat her with two weapons: the serve and the forehand. In my mind, in women’s tennis especially, when you can come through with those two big weapons, it can set you apart….I can tell you from my courtside position a couple years ago, I came out feeling fantastic that the U.S. had a true prospect to get to the top spot.” – Shriver

The strong state of women’s tennis:

· “The women’s game is as healthy as it’s been in a long time, to have Serena obviously doing what she’s doing. You’re finally I think seeing some young players that got some gumption, that got some real attitude that they can compete with the best in Bouchard and Keys, Svitolina and others. I think Coco Vandeweghe deserves to be in that conversation, as well.” – McEnroe

· “The bottom half of the women’s draw — Bouchard, Keys, Jankovic, Bencic, Wozniacki, Ivanovic, Garcia, Lisicki, Errani, Azarenka, Sharapova. That’s the kind of quality draw that in the last six, seven years we haven’t been fortunate enough to have. The recession of women’s tennis that started with Justine Henin retiring is well and truly over.” – Shriver

Q. Madison Keys, she’s really at this point obviously a big-time player, top 20. I know how familiar all of you are with her. Can you tell me why of all of the young up-and-coming players you think she is the one?

CHRIS EVERT: I mean, for those of us who saw her at a young age, I saw her at age 12. I think that everybody that saw her at that point thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, there’s so much raw power, that if she could just control it and harness it, she’s going to be a great player.’ Very much like a Serena, she has the second best serve out there, which she’s going to win a lot of free points holding her serve. She has so much power, more so than any of the other top players, aside from Serena and Venus, her whole game, not counting Maria Sharapova obviously on the groundstrokes. But she’s got it all. She has natural ease and power in her shots. I feel like I think Lindsay and her husband are a great fit for her right now. At the same time, I think we all felt she would achieve greatness sooner or later when she was ready, when she was emotionally ready. I think the emotional and mental part came along a little bit later than the physical part.

PAM SHRIVER: Well, I think for me, I’m not as familiar as Patrick and Chrissie in the development part, I’m just familiar with Madison as I’ve observed her the last few years for my ESPN position. The first time I really came out of a match with my jaw sort of dropping was a couple years ago at the Australian Open when she beat Paszek, beat her routinely. She beat her with two weapons: the serve and the forehand. In my mind, in women’s tennis especially, when you can come through with those two big weapons, it can set you apart. Over two years ago she was really, really young in her professional career. Now I think we see the pathway a little more clearly with a great team around her, what she did at the Australian Open. No big surprises. I can tell you from my courtside position a couple years ago, I came out feeling fantastic that the U.S. had a true prospect to get to the top spot.

PATRICK McENROE: Not to pat all of us on the back, but I think it’s been a wonderful progression for Madison. I think the first people that deserve a pat on the back are her parents. She’s a great girl, a great person. She’s got a great head on her shoulders. And her first coaches. Then Chrissie and her brother John, through her formative years when she was 12 up until she was I guess 15 or 16.

Then I have to give a pat on the back to my team at the USTA for doing a great job with her and taking her as a very talented teenager and turning her into a top-40 player. As Chrissie said, I think this is a logical progression for her to get the great insight of a great champion like Lindsay, someone who really studies the game and understands the game well. Obviously they got along great when they did their trial period out at the USTA training center in Southern Cal, so well that along with her husband Jon, it turned into a full-time thing. To me, as the head of player development for the last seven years, this has been an ideal progression for a talented player coming through, and the USTA helping along the way, Chrissie and her team doing a great job, arguably the most important years of developing her technique and strokes. Now obviously passing her off to a great player and great champion, someone who I think can take her all the way to the next level. The next level is winning majors.

Whether she can do that this year is up in the air. But I certainly think within the next 24 months, two and a half to three years, absolutely she can win a major.

Q. Today at the tournament is Azarenka versus Sharapova, then Roger playing Seppi, then Serena Williams and Stephens. Can you comment on some those matches.

PAM SHRIVER: First off, I think the quality of both draws is phenomenal. I think we saw great balance at the Australian Open. I feel like we’re in for just a great year of tennis at all the majors and all the Masters Series and Premiere WTAs. The draws are loaded. We’re getting fantastic early-round matchups.

Stephens-Williams has a lot of history based on the quarterfinal upset a couple of Australian Opens ago, but it also tells a different story of two different pathways, where Serena has been a dominant player since that loss, but Sloane Stephens has gone the other way, but is showing signs. If Sloane Stephens can feel a little more relaxed with Madison Keys picking up a lot of attention from her generation, other American women playing really well, maybe this is Sloane’s true comeback year. I would expect Serena to win that match. Chrissie, you want to take Azarenka-Sharapova?

CHRIS EVERT: No. You take it.

PAM SHRIVER: One of the reasons women’s tennis is looking better this year is because of players like Azarenka being healthy again. She looked for a while like the best hard court player in women’s tennis when she was winning two Australian Opens, almost beating Serena in two US Open finals. She was pretty much a non-entity last year.

The way she played at the Australian, the way she’s playing here, playing the quality of tennis she played a couple years ago, are great for women’s tennis.

What isn’t great is for people who like a quiet match (laughter). But we’ll have to deal with it. It will only last a couple hours.

CHRIS EVERT: I just think that Sharapova-Azarenka is going to be really telling to see how far Azarenka has come along as far as taking time off. She seems to have had a resurgence and she seems to have reset her career and her inspiration, seems like 100%. I always think that taking breaks for players is such a good deal, such a good decision. It just refreshes you. You just get so flat and burned out playing year after year after year and not taking a good chunk of really four or five months off. I think she’s been better as a result. These two players could end up 2 and 3 at the end of the year. That’s how tough this third round is.

On the other hand, Sloane, I love the way she has played this tournament. I’m very happy that she’s with Nick Saviano. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach, seeing what he did with Genie Bouchard. If anybody can help her attitude and mental outlook on her tennis, it’s going to be Nick with Sloane. So good signs, showing good attitude out there, good body language. These are just two great showcase matches for women’s tennis.

PATRICK McENROE: Maybe one you forgot about, we haven’t mentioned her yet, is Coco Vandeweghe. She’s done a terrific job. She’s seeded, what, about 30 or 31 out there. She’s sort of quietly playing the best tennis of her career. Similar to Madison, we’ve known about her since she was a teenager from Southern Cal. Being a huge hitter of the ball and a good athlete. It’s taken her a little while, but she’s figured out how to get herself in really good condition. I love the way she’s playing. She’s still a little bit up and down. She played some great tennis in Australia, then didn’t play so well when she lost. Taking on Bouchard, who Chrissie and Pam talked about already, that’s the first match out there on the stadium court today. That’s a good one. Bouchard obviously with a new coach, as well. She’s got a lot to prove this year, a lot of pressure on her after an unbelievable year last year.

The women’s game is as healthy as it’s been in a long time, to have Serena obviously doing what she’s doing. You’re finally I think seeing some young players that got some gumption, that got some real attitude that they can compete with the best in Bouchard and Keys, Svitolina and others. I think Coco Vandeweghe deserves to be in that conversation, as well.

Obviously we’re certainly looking forward to seeing Roger take on Seppi. While we would all pencil this in as a routine Roger win based on overall his record against Seppi, losing for the first time at the Australian to him, which was a shocker obviously, I wouldn’t be quite that quick. Seppi is a really good player. He’s had an excellent last year and a half on the tour. I expect him to play well again. Obviously Roger’s antenna will be way up for this. Coming off a win in Dubai over Djokovic got him back on track with his confidence that he can have another great year. Just like the women’s draw, the men’s draw is loaded. It’s a nice early test for Roger to see where he’s at.

CHRIS EVERT: Is Bencic playing Wozniacki?

THE MODERATOR: That’s second on.

CHRIS EVERT: That’s another one to watch, 18-year-old Bencic. Patrick was talking about the young ones. She’s 18 years old, had a slow start, but had a great year last year.

PAM SHRIVER: The bottom half of the women’s draw, Bouchard, Keys, Jankovic, Bencic, Wozniacki, Ivanovic, Garcia, Lisicki, Errani, Azarenka, Sharapova. That’s the kind of quality draw that in the last six, seven years we haven’t been fortunate enough to have. The recession of women’s tennis that started with Justine Henin retiring is well and truly over.

CHRIS EVERT: Good point.

Q. I wanted to talk about the event you’re at. Obviously players want to win at every event. This has the aura of a fifth major. Do you see players and advertisers, media, putting this on a higher shelf than other events on the tour?

PAM SHRIVER: From a Southern California standpoint, to think this is the only professional tournament in one of the great tennis hotbeds in the history of the game is kind of a shame. But it also makes it, for this region, because living here, hearing the buildup the last month, you can feel this is a big-time Southern Cal event.

CHRIS EVERT: You look at next week, Miami, this week Indian Wells. You talked about hotbeds. California and Florida are the two biggest tennis dates, I feel, in the country, and have really come up with some great players, play all year round. There are a lot of tennis enthusiasts. It’s only apropos that these two big tournaments are held in these two states. You could say the fifth. I would like to say the Road to Singapore, the WTA Finals, in the players’ mind is the fifth one. But then you have this one and Miami right there with it. It’s probably the most popular with the players. What’s not to be great to come out here in this weather, in this atmosphere, this facility, this venue. I think it’s definitely one of the players’ favorites.

PATRICK McENROE: There’s no doubt that these Masters events in general have been elevated to another level. You might get the same argument from a Cincinnati or even some of the European clay court events, which are tremendous as well. The nice thing about these two events, obviously Indian Wells, the facilities are phenomenal with Larry Ellison, what he’s been able to do to take it to a whole other level by building a new stadium. The grounds are tremendous. I was out there this past weekend. The buzz around the grounds, it’s electric to be out there.

The weather doesn’t hurt out there, as well. I think the time of year. There’s really no major that it conflicts with. You get towards the end of the major clay court tune-up, people are thinking about the French. In the summer, people don’t want to tire themselves out too much leading into the US Open. These two are just great events. This one, where it’s located, what Larry Ellison has been able to do. Ray Moore and Charlie Pasarell starting out had an amazing vision of what this event could be. I think it’s turned into that and a lot more.

Q. Patrick, what do you think of this picture floating around of your brother sitting between Bill Gates and Larry Ellison?

PATRICK McENROE: I thought I was the one in the McEnroe family with a low net worth (laughter). A little reality check for him there, you know.

CHRIS EVERT: Patrick, he was a little intimidated.

PATRICK McENROE: Who wouldn’t be, I’ll tell you.

Q. I have this theory that they made McEnroe pick up the check that night.

PATRICK McENROE: That would be okay. He could afford it (laughter).

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“On The Call” – ESPN Australian Open Conference Call with Darren Cahill and Pam Shriver

Darren Cahill

Darren Cahill

(January 17, 2015) ESPN tennis analysts Darren Cahill and Pam Shriver spoke with media on Friday evening about the Australian Open, which starts Sunday, Jan. 18 (Monday in Melbourne), with 100 live hours on ESPN television and 800 from a record 13 courts on ESPN3.

 

Soundbites:

Where Roger Federer is now, explaining his longevity:

  • This one is not so much the fact that he’s playing at this level at this stage of his career because it’s actually territory that other players have traveled down before….  I think really the remarkable thing for him is his love and enthusiasm for the sport still.  It never wavers.  The moment he steps on the practice court, from the moment he steps onto every single match, you see a dedicated guy that is loving exactly what he’s doing, and he’s a little more forthright in the way he’s playing now.” – Cahill
  • The new racquet played a big role.  He’s finally getting totally committed to a bigger frame.  It gave him a little more, especially on the backhand side… I think Stefan Edberg…can help things, not just little tactical things moving forward, shortening the points, the way Edberg used the serve, attacking weak second serves and the volley, but also the way Edberg managed great rivalries of his time psychologically.” – Shriver

 

From who knows, a mother of twins, what to watch for concerning Federer’s creaky back:

  • His back getting more healthy (was key in 2014).  How long that remains with his set of boy twins starting to become more mobile, and as he starts to get down on the ground again with another set of twins, we’ll see how his back goes in the next year or two.” – Shriver

 

Venus…rising?

  • First off, Venus one of the class athletes in this sports generation.  I thought, when she won in Auckland over Wozniacki, just her style and her sportsmanship, and she just shown through.  Whether she wins or she loses ‑‑ and I love that about Venus…slowly but surely, she’s gotten some belief again that she can contend.  She’s got to get through the early rounds.  She’s got to win three‑set matches, and she’s got to be smart.  The weather’s got to break her way.  But you know what, I love it.  I love her fight.  I love everything about Venus Williams.  We should feel really lucky that we’ve got some great athletes, great champions of the last 15 years in their mid‑30s still contending to win majors, in the case of Venus, still somebody to keep an eye on, and she’s my outsider pick on ESPN.com to win the Australian.” – Shriver

 

Is Nadal ready to contend for the title, coming back from health issues?

  • “He’s very, very underdone coming into the Aussie Open.  The first two or three matches, obviously, all eyes will be on Rafa to see how his game is…His game is rusty.  Obviously, he needs miles in his legs to feel his game.  That’s what he’s been desperately trying to do.  He’s been practicing incredibly hard.  I watched him play a couple of practice sets as well, and he’s struggling a bit with his game.  He’ll be vulnerable in the early rounds.  But you know Nadal, if he can find his legs and find his way into the second week, he becomes more and more difficult to beat as the time goes on.  If he makes the second week, he’s going to be a threat.” – Cahill

 

I would just like to ask both of you about Roger Federer.  He really came close last year to getting his 18th slam, and 33 years old, father of three (stet), he continues to surprise everyone and doesn’t seem like he’s going anywhere, beating Raonic and Dimitrov, both young guys.  What do you see for this Australian Open, and how remarkable is it what he’s doing? 

PAM SHRIVER:  I’ll step up.  I want to reflect quickly on a year ago, where we were with Federer because (there were) a lot of question marks a year ago.  He entered the Australian Open, having really not done that well in the majors a year before.  I think that win over Tsonga right at the end of week 1 really kind of started to set the table for a really good year for Roger.  Then he followed it up with a really good win over Murray even though Murray didn’t have a great year in the majors, and got to the semis of the Australian.  Even though he didn’t get the finals or win it, I thought last year’s Australian Open was really important for Roger’s year.  I think the Wimbledon final was the match of the year in tennis.  It was historic either way, Novak finally ending the string of disappointing losses.  For Roger, obviously, it would have been an extraordinary win.  Personally, to think that this great athlete at the top still of the men’s game has two sets of twins and is juggling it all with his usual incredible class just means that we’re lucky to have him, and we’re lucky to still have him as a great force.  He’s entering the year as a 2 seed, and it wouldn’t surprise me if he was able to win another Australian Open.  He’s not my pick, but it’s certainly possible.

DARREN CAHILL:  I agree with everything Pam has got to say there.  Everything has been remarkable about Roger’s career.  This one is not so much the fact that he’s playing at this level at this stage of his career because it’s actually territory that other players have traveled down before.  We’ve seen guys like Connors, Agassi at 33, 34 years of age, even 35, do remarkable things on the tennis courts.  I think it also gives Roger a lot of confidence that age doesn’t really play a part at this stage of his career.  I think really the remarkable thing for him is his love and enthusiasm for the sport still.  It never wavers.  The moment he steps on the practice court, from the moment he steps onto every single match, you see a dedicated guy that is loving exactly what he’s doing, and he’s a little more forthright in the way he’s playing now.  I think a couple of things add to that.  You have a few less options the older you get.  The edge starts to come off of you physically, slightly, ever so slightly when we talk about Roger.  So he’s a little more forthright in what needs to be done on the court, game plans and tactics to get it done.  And we’re seeing someone who’s totally committed to that.  He’s got a great team around him.  He’s got Stefan, who’s been there before and certainly played some great tennis around these years as well.  He’s going out there, and he’s executing a strong, attacking game plan, which is also helping him physically to cut a few corners and make a few matches shorter than they normally would be, and I still think he’s capable, for the next couple of years, of winning any Major.  He just needs to continue to put himself in a position.  Obviously, for anybody to win a Major these days, you need a little bit of luck and need a few things going your way, and he’s certainly still capable of doing that.

 

Last year, the improvement from Roger, what part coaching and tactics and what part health, his back? 

PAM SHRIVER:  I think we all thought the three adjustments.  The new racquet played a big role.  He’s finally getting totally committed to a bigger frame.  It gave him a little more, especially on the backhand side.  His back getting more healthy.  How long that remains with his set of boy twins starting to become more mobile, and as he starts to get down on the ground again with another set of twins, we’ll see how his back goes in the next year or two.  But the back being healthy, and I think Stefan Edberg, those little subtle things that a great champion ‑‑ Edberg can help things, not just little tactical things moving forward, shortening the points, the way Edberg used the serve, attacking weak second serves and the volley, but also the way Edberg managed great rivalries of his time psychologically.  Of the four, the big four is just getting a little edge on how to manage these incredible matchups.  So I think all of those things have helped Roger a lot.  Actually, helped Roger a little, but all you need is a little bit of a help, and it makes a huge difference.

DARREN CAHILL:  I think that was well said, Pammy.  I think that Roger’s got such a great sense of the history of the game as well.  He spoke last week about when he first came up with the likes of Safin and Hewitt and those types of guys, that they were pushing the Agassi and Sampras’s out of the game, but that rivalry to take on the best in the sport at that time was enthusiastic for all the young kids, and they pushed each other.  He got to see Hewitt winning major championships and doing well from an early age, and that spurred him on to be better and work harder and be more professional.  Now he’s at the other end of the spectrum where he’s one of the older guys, and we have the younger guys coming through and trying to push him out of the game.  It’s remarkable how he can sort of look through the years and see those rivalries and have great respect for them and know that he’s part of something pretty special now.  I think that’s also what keeps his enthusiasm so high for the game and the love of the game is that he doesn’t want these young guys to come along and push him out of the game.  He wants to continue to try to get better and hold his place for as long as possible and for as long as he enjoys getting onto the tennis court.

DAVE NAGLE:  We’ll move on, but let me just add Patrick McEnroe’s voice from a press release I did about 10 days ago, looking ahead to this year.  He said, “I’ll say it again.  This is Roger Federer’s last year to win a Major.”  I think that expresses Patrick’s ‑‑ how he was impressed with Roger’s 2014.

 

Hi, Darren.  I was wondering about Milos Raonic and John Isner.  Two players with a big serve and a big forehand.  I was wondering what it is about Raonic that has allowed him make the next step that Isner hasn’t quite been able to take quite yet. 

DARREN CAHILL:  We can only speak to what happened last year, and I feel like he made major steps forward in feeling like he belonged in the big stage, in the big situation.  We saw him move to his first ever major semifinal at Wimbledon.  Obviously, he got blown away by a pretty tough matchup against Roger.  Even since that particular tournament, he’s made several adjustments to his game to counter that, and he’s played better against Roger the last couple of times.  So you’re seeing constant improvement in Milos’ game.  And some of that comes from those around him as well.  They know what it takes to get to the top and to get the most out of him.  I think from a logic sense, for the first couple of years on tour, he was not one‑dimensional, but he was able ‑‑ his weaknesses were attackable for the better players in the game.  Once you got his serve back and once you got a pretty decent read on his serve, you felt like you were in the point with an extremely good chance of winning it, and you could cause a bit of panic into his game, but you don’t see that now.  Even in that final that Federer played against Milos in Brisbane, and Milos was right up against it.  And he was up against a guy who played pretty incredible tennis at the start of the match, and Milos was able to claw his way back into that match and put himself into a pretty good position late in that first set.

 

So I feel like you can’t rush these things.  We’re up against a generation and an era of player that has been so dominant in these top four guys that it’s nearly impossible to say that anybody can come through and just join the top four.  It’s been a slow process for most of these players.  And Milos has had a couple of injury concerns over the last few years, which he’s been able to shake off.  He’s maybe one of the most professional players both on and off the court.  He works just as hard as anyone, if not harder than anyone on and off the court.  And this guy has more of a desire than anyone I’ve seen to win a major than most of that generation of player coming through.  I think you just have to be patient.  With the taller athletes, it takes a little longer for that strength to kick in and for them to really become great athletes, but he’s well on the way.  I think for John also, it’s a little bit of the same thing.  John’s also been given a greater appreciation for what needs to be done the last three or four years.  You’ve seen much more consistent results for John.  Being 6’10” is not an easy thing for anybody to find their way around the tennis court.  He’s taken on a new coach this year.  He’s going to be more forthright with the way he approaches these tennis matches.  For him to have a chance in the majors, he has to find a way to try to shorten some of the long matches he gets into, and to be point blank, he really just has to improve his return game and find a way to break serve.  If you do that, it’s going to make life much easier for him.

PAM SHRIVER:  From what Darren said, not a lot left unsaid about Raonic.  From what Darren said, 100 percent professional in his attitude.  Darren pretty much covered it.  I think we all feel that way.  When Raonic sort of burst onto the big time Major scene, it was at the Australian Open four or five years ago.  When he visited us on the ESPN set, he just came with an aura of total professionalism.  Even though he was very young, he was extremely serious.  You could just tell every day he was ready to work in order to get better.  That kind of hunger and preparation, day in, day out, year in, year out, and when you have the kind of size and weapons he has, one of the great serves of this current era in men’s tennis, it’s going to make you a force.  So it’s physical weapons.  It’s his mental approach.  It’s his desire to get better and the team around him.  It’s a pretty awesome package.  Isner, to me, a generation older and five inches taller.  That’s a big five inches in tennis.  It’s an awkward size to stay injury free and to have the kind of movement that’s necessary on tennis court with a quick change of directions.  I think Isner’s done incredibly well, and he’s actually my outsider, my dark horse.  I tend to put my ESPN hat aside, and I tend to want to cheer for him.  I want to see him have more break‑throughs at majors because he is such a compelling figure.  We’ll see what the influence of a new coach, and I think Justin has some good ideas about Isner shortening up, not trying to be a baseline player at 6’10”, but using the big serve, the big forehand, and moving forward and having that target at net where it can really be intimidating.

DAVE NAGLE:  Sounds like the insights about Isner come from personal experience, learning the game.

PAM SHRIVER:  Also, at 6’1″ was my height in the women’s game, I don’t know what that equals to in women’s terms, but Venus Williams is an example of a phenomenal mover at a height for women that tends to be awkward, but for Isner, it’s just tough to move quickly and nimbly.

 

Hello, guys.  I’m nothing if not predictable.  I’m going to talk about Andy Murray again.  Darren, I guess, in the first instance, changes to his kind of back room setup again with Dani leaving.  Amelie is still there.  He seems from afar to be in pretty good place and pretty content and happy with life.  What do you make of his chances going into the Aussie Open? 

DARREN CAHILL:  I got to see him play all of his matches at the Hopman Cup.  I spoke to him at length, and he’s very happy with the way he feels leading into the 2015 season.  He’s changed a little of his preseason program.  He’s added some sprint work and power work into his program.  He’s feeling great on the court.  He was playing very good tennis.  A lot of stuff in his game that can normally get him in trouble against some of the players, it looks like he’s becoming more forthright in the way he’s approaching his baseline rallies.  Certainly his serve is a constant thing he continues to work on.  Hopefully, we’ll see some improvement, especially in the second serve, in 2015.  He looks great.  He looks happy.  This is a new year for him.  He’s got new challenges ahead of him.  As you said, he’s got a couple of members, a bit of a new looking team, and that can only create new challenges for him to find a way to get it done this year.  I think the form that we saw him at the end of the year was very encouraging, to see him fight so hard to get back in the top eight and become part of that London Masters was great for him.  I think you can take every loss and learn a lot from it, and that loss that he had to Federer, I think he took that in the right way, the right fashion, and it was remarkable that a couple of days later sitting on the couch, he got the phone call from the tournament to come and play an exhibition match and fill in, and he went down there.  That shows you the quality of the guy.  I’m expecting a big year for him.  He’s going to put himself back into the mix.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he wins another Major this year.  He’s got a bit to prove.  He likes being the underdog.  He likes proving to people.  When you tell him, listen, you can’t get it done, he likes to go out there and show people he can get it done.  I suspect Andy will have a great start to the year.  To be honest, he may be playing the best tennis of all of the players just at the moment.  We’ve probably seen him more than anyone else, he’s played quite a bit of tennis coming into the Australian Open, but he’s been pretty faultless so far.

PAM SHRIVER:  Just quickly, I don’t have a whole lot to add to that, but I think it’s interesting when you think about what Andy Murray did as far as starting this new trend of hiring ‑‑ and I guess Roddick did a little bit with Connors a few years ago, but really this move towards a top player hiring a former great.  And what he got out of the Lendl relationship.  Obviously, he’s moved on to Mauresmo.  Could that start another trend?  I don’t know.  Very seldom do top players have so many changes.  He got engaged.  He’s got a new clothing line.  He’s got new people on his team.  But I think someone like Andy, who’s grinded so long and tried to chase down Federer and Nadal, probably having some changes on court and off court is probably going to be a good thing, and I agree with Darren.  He’s going to have a good year.

 

I want to ask about Venus.  Talk about someone that we have made ‑‑ I don’t want to speak for others, but had sort of written off, and now she’s back in the top 20, number 18, won a tournament, beat Wozniacki.  Can you just talk about her sort of resurgence here. 

PAM SHRIVER:  First off, Venus one of the class athletes in this sports generation.  I thought, when she won in Auckland over Wozniacki, just her style and her sportsmanship, and she just shown through.  Whether she wins or she loses ‑‑ and I love that about Venus.  She’s had a lot of adversity in her life.  She’s also had a lot of incredible ups, winning seven majors, but it’s been a long time.  She’s had to deal with quite a bit.

 

I think about last year, the very first match we had on the Australian Open was on the Margaret Court Arena, and it was Venus playing Makarova.  And Venus was up a set and a break, and it was a really tight match.  She ended up losing in three sets.  She lost early at the French, and I thought she played one of the women’s matches of the year when she only lost serve once, lost to Kvitova in a tough draw in the first round.  Kvitova goes on to easily win Wimbledon after that.  That match was a match that I’ll always remember in women’s tennis because it was only one break for each player.  That just seldom happens.  So I actually thought Venus, if she could have snuck out of that Kvitova match, I thought she had a chance to win Wimbledon, and I think Venus believes that, slowly but surely, she’s gotten some belief again that she can contend.  She’s got to get through the early rounds.  She’s got to win three‑set matches, and she’s got to be smart.  The weather’s got to break her way.  But you know what, I love it.  I love her fight.  I love everything about Venus Williams.  We should feel really lucky that we’ve got some great athletes, great champions of the last 15 years in their mid‑30s still contending to win majors, in the case of Venus, still somebody to keep an eye on, and she’s my outsider pick on ESPN.com to win the Australian.

DARREN CAHILL:  Pammy, you picked Venus?  I like that.  I did as well.  A couple years ago, I didn’t think there would be a chance that I would be doing that.  I was one of those people who felt that tennis was beyond her and a couple of years ago, thought she wasn’t going to be able to put herself back into a position.  But I fully agree with everything Pam said there.  I felt Wimbledon was going to be very interesting.  A couple of matches she played at Wimbledon were some of the best matches we’ve seen from her in five or six years.  She’s had a great start to the season.  I saw her final against Ana Ivanovic in New Zealand, and she did great to come back and win that match.  No doubt she’s coming into the Aussie Open confident, and she’ll be very tough to beat.  She’s got a little bit of what Federer has in the sense that, every time she steps onto the court, be it practice or be it a match, she’s just loving being there at the moment, and that says a lot about these athletes.

 

So given the way that Federer and Nadal have both been playing lately.  Nadal won in Doha.  Federer was pretty hot last year.  We don’t want to look too far ahead in these tournaments, but if they were to meet in a potential semifinal, how would you guys project that going? 

DARREN CAHILL:  So I think the thing with Nadal is he’s very, very underdone coming into the Aussie Open.  The first two or three matches, obviously, all eyes will be on Rafa to see how his game is.  We had a chance to see him play one tournament and then a couple of practice matches he played on Wednesday night in a big charity match here in the tennis launch.  His game is rusty.  Obviously, he needs miles in his legs to feel his game.  That’s what he’s been desperately trying to do.  He’s been practicing incredibly hard.  I watched him play a couple of practice sets as well, and he’s struggling a bit with his game.  He’ll be vulnerable in the early round.  But you know Nadal, if he can find his legs and find his way into the second week, he becomes more and more difficult to beat as the time goes on.  If he makes the second week, he’s going to be a threat.  I’ve taken him as my ESPN.com tips as the hardest road on the men’s side.  He’s got a couple of tough guys in Youzhny and a couple of floaters in his section that have been very difficult.  But if he gets to the semifinal and plays Federer, there’s a head‑to‑head matchup issue there that Roger struggles with, and that’s a different ball game all together.  We’ve got to wait to see what happens with that.  If you have to look through the draw, I think the most interesting section of the draw is that Dimitrov ‑‑ sort of the Murray section, to be honest.  He’s got Dimitrov possibly in the fourth round, to play Federer, to play Nadal, to play Djokovic.  That’s how difficult it is these days.  Even if you’re ranked sixth in the world or seeded sixth, the draw to win one of these majors can be incredibly difficult.

PAM SHRIVER:  The only thing I’d like to stress really about Rafa, November 3rd he had an appendectomy.  Even though they are so good at doing arthroscopic stuff, that’s still your abdominal part, that’s your core part of an elite athlete.  November 3rd, sure, he’s had some time to heal, but you know what, it only takes a fraction to be off.  I think, as Darren stated, he likes to have the matches.  He likes to kind of work his way into form.  He doesn’t have that confidence.  Can he get it in the first week of a Major, the way we’ve seen Serena so many times through the years?  Sure, he can.  But he hasn’t shown through the years that he’s as comfortable being underdone and playing at the usual great level that he can play.  He’s had a rough six months.  So I think Darren’s pick, even though he’s not my early upset pick, that’s probably a good one, but you can never underestimate one of the greats of all time.

DARREN CAHILL:  Remember also, Pam, we were speaking at the same time last year when he was out for that period of time, about the fact that missing the Australian Open was probably a blessing in disguise for him because it is difficult to come back after a long layoff ‑‑

PAM SHRIVER:  You mean two years ago.

DARREN CAHILL:  Two years ago, exactly.  And to play best of five.  We saw the year that he had two years ago when he did come back and played those smaller clay court tournaments and found his legs and then launched himself into the bigger tournaments.  So it’s a little bit of a different challenge for him this year.  Any challenge that he has, he’s more than capable of stepping up to the plate and making it happen, but the first week definitely going to be interesting, and I think a lot of eyes are going to be on Rafa’s form.

PAM SHRIVER:  And also you think through the years he’s had quite a few little niggling injuries that crop up second week of the Aussie.  So there’s no indication that he’s not going to physically feel at his best.

 

Just a quick followup, I guess.  You said Andy may be playing as well as anyone, and I guess another guy we haven’t really spoken about is Novak Djokovic.  Is he still the man to beat?  If I can throw in an extra one, what did you think about the Aussie challengers with Kyrgios and Kokkinakis and Saville and those guys? 

PAM SHRIVER:  Let me put in a little tiny bit.  Then, Darren, I’m going to hang up and go get my kids, and you can finish up on Novak and what you saw down there with the fundraiser.  I just think Novak, this is the tournament that Novak fell in love with first when he won down here in ’08.  He’s won it more than any of his other Majors.  I know it was disappointing, his loss to Wawrinka last year, but I expect he’s going to be right in there.  Most people have him as the favorite.  I would have gone with him, but I felt like making an unusual pick, Nishikori, at least unusual with Nishikori outside the big four we usually always go to the last five years.  So Novak, one of the great athletes we’ll ever see on a tennis court.  Dave Nagle, thanks so much for hosting.  Darren, continue.  I’ll see you in a day.

DARREN CAHILL:  Three wins in the last four years down here for Novak.  It’s been a remarkable love affair that he’s had with the Australian Open, and his game suits the conditions down here incredibly well.  He’s been able to overcome obstacles with the Heat in the last six or seven years to become one of the greatest athletes the game has ever seen.  He doesn’t have any weaknesses in his game.  He’s so difficult to beat.  We haven’t seen a great deal of him.  Obviously, he didn’t play the final in the exhibition event against Andy.  I didn’t get to see that particular head‑to‑head matchup.  I don’t think it matters.  Coming into this, he finished the year incredibly well again, winning the London World Finals.  He is the man to beat until it’s a little bit like ‑‑ not quite as strong, but a little bit like the French Open when we talk about Rafa.  Until somebody can prove they can beat him here, he is the man to beat in my eyes.  Even though he did lose in the last quarterfinal match to Wawrinka, but it was an incredible match.  He’s my pick to win.  I feel he’s got a pretty decent section of the draw to play into the tournament, and it’s going to take a pretty outstanding performance by anyone to beat Novak Djokovic.

 

And on the Aussies coming through, any hope at all?  What, ’76 was the last home winner, you think? 

DARREN CAHILL:  That’s right with Mark Edmundsen.  I think that Nick Kyrgios is a little bit injured at the moment with the back issue.  He didn’t play the Hopman Cup.  I watched him play last week, and it looked like his knee and cramps set in into his match.  Coming into the Australian Open, I feel like physically he’s improved a ton over the last 12 months physically, but he still has that issue that, if he gets deep into a match, a fourth or fifth set, then the physical aspect plays a big part.  Whilst he can cause a lot of players a lot of trouble, it’s a little too early for him to say he can go all the way at the Australian Open.  There’s a lot to look for to in his future.  Thanasis Kokkinakis, winning a match or two at the Australian Open, getting more experience playing the big tournaments, that’s important for him.  He’s a year younger than Nick.  Going to take Nick a little longer.  Sam Groth is coming through.  He’s had a good couple of years.  Lleyton Hewitt, obviously, Lleyton is nearing the end of his career.  Not sure if this is going to be his last Aussie.  He might play one more next year.  He’s had a great preseason.  His form in the leadup to the Aussie Open has not been great, but he’s in good spirits and looking to do well.  He’s actually in a pretty good section of the draw, so he’ll be looking to get his teeth into it from that point of view.  I think from an Australian point of view, the one who stands out that has struggled the last three years, he’s kind of gotten out of his career what he’s put into it, and that was very little, and that’s Bernard Tomic.  At the moment ‑‑ be that because of these younger guys coming through and taking a little of the spotlight, be it because he’s maturing a little more, be it because some of the funding’s been pulled from him now and he’s not making the same money that he was previously, he’s got a different attitude at the moment.  And we saw the last six months of the year that Bernie is starting to put in off the court and putting in much more effort in every single match he plays, not just here in Australia.  He always plays well in Australia.  I expect him to play well in the Australian Open, but the biggest test for Bernie will be how he performs the rest of the nine or ten months.  That’s the big issue whether he can break through to the top 20 or top 10.  I actually picked him as my dark horse in the men’s draw.  I think his section is really good.  He’s playing extremely well.  We always know he steps up and plays great tennis in Australia.  The big test of him becoming a top player is can he take that form and reproduce it overseas?  We have to sit back and see if that happens.

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Rafael Nadal Stars in New “This is SportsCenter” Commercial

(September 10, 2013) To celebrate Rafael Nadal’s US Open victory, ESPN debuted its latest addition to the award-winning “This is SportsCenter”  franchise with a spot that features the Spanish champion.  Filmed in both English and Spanish, it is now running on both ESPN and ESPN Deportes. following Nadal’s 6-2, 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 win over Novak Djokovic to claim his 13th major title.

During the 30-second ad, named “Candy Dish,” SportsCenter anchors John Anderson and Bram Weinstein speculate about what makes the Spanish player so popular in the office.  Turns out Nadal’s exotic accent, great tan and dashing looks are not necessarily what is driving all the foot traffic to his cube. It might instead have something to do with what he keeps in the US Open Trophy on his desk.  ESPN Deportes’ SportsCenter anchors Alvaro Morales, Jorge Eduardo Sánchez and Carolina Padrón appear in the Spanish-language version.

 

This is the second spot in the campaign, following Robinson Cano’s “Handshakes,” to be released in English and in Spanish.

 

Wieden + Kennedy New York is the creative agency for the This is SportsCenter campaign. The overall initiative, a cornerstone of ESPN’s brand since 1995, gives fans an inside peek at the Bristol, Conn., campus, where athletes, mascots and anchors interact in the center of the sports universe.

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Jamie Reynolds of ESPN on Approach Shots

Jamie Reynolds (Photo by Rich Arden/ESPN)

Tennis Panorama News had the unique opportunity to visit the ESPN broadcast compound  and spend time in the control room in Melbourne during coverage of the Australian Open back in January. Senior Vice President of Event Production for ESPN Jamie Reynolds took time out from his extremely hectic schedule to speak to us about the logistics, technologies, philosophy and personalities of ESPN’s Australian Open coverage.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News: How are the logistics of planning different for the Australian Open versus the other slams?

Jamie Reynolds: The way that we approach the Australian Open is similar in the way we do all four majors. And ESPN is unique in the aspect that we literally take apart our entire operation, our entire family, our entire circus and we take it three continents and an island.

We go to Australia and then go on to Paris, we then go up to the UK for Wimbledon and them back down to New York at the end of the summer. The nine month rip is pretty aggressive. So we probably pick up 115 people, and literally land on these hotspots for these events, move them in for three weeks. And I think we are probably the largest broadcaster who does all four majors at that level of commitment or the magnitude of the production assets that we bring. So it’s pretty challenging.

The biggest thing, the hardest thing for us, relative to the Australian Open, candidly is that we are upside down on the time zone to our audience and the fact that we don’t start until 9pm and we run the overnight hours, that’s great, but when we are trying to grow the sport, it’s a little challenging. How do you get people to stay up all night long or want to get invested, either TIVO, record, DVR the matches, because they are that much of a tennis fanatic to take advantage of what we are doing versus what they getting immediately either texting, news reports, Morning wheel of the news, they can get all that social currency to get up to steam.

So our challenge really, for this particular event is probably more editorial that logistic.

 

TPN: What is the biggest technological challenge in covering the Australian Open?

JR: This event is technically, is one of the easier events for us to handle technically. We’ve got a partnership going with Channel 7 Australia, who is also the host broadcaster. So ESPN comes in and effectively we are a world feed embellisher. We put our own character, our own personality, our own voices, graphics, music. Pick the asset that can actually tailor the world feed presentation to look and feel like a standard ESPN product.

So perhaps our biggest challenge is what if we don’t necessarily agree with you on covering a match? Or perhaps the isolation plan for Tomic or for Federer or for Roddick or for Rafa perhaps. That assignment of cameras may not be perhaps the level or the rate or philosophy that we might bring to a match. So how do we cover that chasm?

Technology wise we continue to push the envelope by bringing assets like the Spidercam, the aerial system that you see out on Rod Laver, that’s a device that we on ESPN brought to the tennis world and introduced at the majors at the US Open three years ago, convinced Tennis Australia, Channel 7 that it might enhance their coverage, convinced all the parties to come together and bring it down and fly through Rod Laver.

This year we’ve been very aggressive in trying to help Channel 7 understand how that could be an asset to enhance the coverage package. I think that everyday we chip away at it and get a little bit bolder with its flight pattern and we kind of rely on it a little bit more. I think that it enhances the value of its coverage.

 

TPN: Now that we are down to one American left in the singles draw, what are your angles going to be?

JR: Without the Americans doing well for the first time in the open era and not get to the round of 16, that’s challenging for us. Because we’ve got a lot of personalities and lot of what we do look at from the access to a lot of these players, what the interest is back home. Our particular productions have migrated to a new way of thinking. Specifically this is truly an international event with so many great personalities form around the globe, and because we do reach a lot of countries with ESPN, we think a little bit broader in how we are actually in going after a Hewitt story, a Roger or a Rafa or a Raonic or Tomic and any of the ladies as well.

That our goal now is to make that as personable, as desirable, in terms of wanting to understand the back story, getting our audience invested inn them, just trying to figure out the best way to convey that to our audience so they don’t mind that there are no Americans. We don’t have to put the red, white and blue all the time but there’s really great tennis out there that is fun.

 

TPN: Any new technology being implemented at this year’s Australian Open.

JR: The Australian mindset is very unique. They are gregarious fun loving good folks down here. They tend to be incredibly open-minded in terms of progressive introductions of new ideas to help convey the event and one of the initiatives they’ve helped us achieve is what we call our behind-the-scenes franchise. And that behind-the-scenes franchise as effectively as I describe to our teams is this: “Take behind the velvet ropes. Give me discovery and access. Take me places I couldn’t get to if I had a ticket or if I had the ability to watch every hour of what ESPN puts out, I need to feel like I actually in the event and going somewhere where no one else can go.”

And with that kind of mindset and philosophy with Tennis Australia, “where can you give us access to?” Well we can go to the workout room, we can go to the locker room, we can go to the hallways, the waiting rooms for the players, the player lounges. We can go to the car park area, where a lot of them just go and out their headsets on and just get into a zone and just kind of shut the world out to deconstruct their match. They’re very open-minded, progressive in terms of allowing that access. With that comes the ability to kind of shape the way we convey this event as opposed to just a rectangle on a screen, two players back and forth, three-hit rally or a 17-hit rally. It’s a little sexier, a little bit more valuable, more attractive presentation. I actually feel like I’m part of it, a part of the community, behind the velvet ropes and going somewhere where I couldn’t even go if I were on site.

 

TPN: What would surprise tennis fans about being behind the scenes?

JR: There’s an incredible amount of camaraderie and I think that what doesn’t convey that whether it’s the ATP or the WTA, these athletes and personalities do travel the circuit week after week and what you actually see behind-the-scenes is the feeling of family amongst the players themselves. As combative or as aggressive as they can be with each other out on a court there is sincere appreciation, chemistry, commitment to one another, whether they are having a good year or a poor year. There’s respect but there is a dynamic that these athletes share with each other. It’s not as adversarial as it might convey over an 11-hour show window where we are just showing guys beating back and forth with each other.

 

TPN: What is a typical day for you and the talent?

JR: This is probably the most challenging because of the sheer number of hours that we televise. When we say first ball to final ball, it is a very solid commitment to coverage of the most important matches from front end to back end. That really requires commitment of literally hours per day. So when you look at the first ball starting at 11am and often times ending like New York ending after Midnight, if not later, keeping people motivated through that 14-day stand is challenging. And with a roster of  personalities, our talent roster, keep them enthusiastic, keeping them invested and focused on being “on” for that 10 hours a day waiting for a match, getting ready for one that is coming up tonight,  and you really gotta go through your head for 2 hours and come back with the same enthusiasm, that’s challenging. You are asking a lot of people.

So what happens behind the scenes to help that? It’s the sense of community, family and respect for each other we all try to create. This isn’t just a group of specialists, assassins coming into do a single job. We’ve got to keep everybody working with the chemistry and taking advantage of that. So we’ll rotate teams. You might see Chris Evert working with Pam Shriver today or you will see Patrick McEnroe and Darren (Cahill) or Patrick and Chris Fowler so we can actually keep them involved with each other because they don’t have to always rule out “ Oh God I’m just sitting with my partner for this match and I’m doing every single match him for the next 14 days.” It changes up the dinner table a little bit.

 

TPN: Who are the practical jokers behind the scenes?

JR: I think that those in the tennis community and those of us who are running the sport know what kind of personality a Brad Gilbert brings. And we know, we look loving and fondly at Cliff Drysdale. He’s the godfather of our team, the elder statesman. As a perspective, he is the longest running talent on ESPN, bar none. He’s been with us since 1979, so we look at that history, having done Davis Cup that year, he is the man who is the franchise longer than anyone.

And then you look at Darren Cahill. Cahill with the Aussie wit, terrific personality. Patrick McEnroe, that’s pretty good – an acerbic wit. And McEnroe has a pretty good timbre to work with. Look at the gals – Mary Joe (Fernandez) and Pammy (Shriver) are well respected. Pammy can be polarizing, she’s got a great personality, she will go off on a flyer and make us all laugh and look at things a way many of us would never think about. She connects the dots on a lot of different stories and a lot of personalities. So that’s kind of like a really valuable spark. It’s a good roster.

Follow ESPN’s tennis coverage on ESPN2, ESPN3.com, on twitter @ESPNTennis and @ESPN10S and online on their tennis home page.

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