December 4, 2016

“On The Call” with ESPN Tennis Analysts Cliff Drysdale, Chrissie Evert and Mary Joe Fernandez

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(August 24, 2016) ESPN tennis analysts Cliff Drysdale, Chrissie Evert and Mary Joe Fernandez spoke with media Wednesday to discuss the upcoming US Open.  Highlights of the call follow.

 

Soundbites

On:  Does Serena Feel the Pressure of Winning Major No. 23 and breaking the streak of weeks at No. 1?

  • “The pressure… is going to be a lot less intense this year than it was last year; that she finally buckled during the semifinal.  I think she’s always the clear favorite for every major.  Everybody knows that.  That’s been the case for so long now.  And I think, this to me, anyway, this is hers.  It’s always hers to win, but I think she’s going to win it this year.” – Drysdale

 

On: The evolution of Serena the player.

Somebody once asked her, do you remember winning your first US Open, she goes, ‘Yeah, I just went out and hit the ball.  I had no idea what I was doing.’  And I think that sums it up.  She had no strategy.  She just hit the ball.  That’s the way she was taught by Richard; just hit the ball, and she made a lot more errors.  But she was a great athlete and she had the power.  But you know, as like now, she uses her head a lot more on the court.” – Evert

 

On: Is Rafa again the Rafa of old?

“I saw him in Rio and he looked really good.  He looked very hungry.  I felt like his forehand was better than it had been.   I do feel he played so much in the first few days that it caught up to him towards the end.  He had to play del Potro and Nishikori back‑to‑back after having the Gold Medal in doubles, and I think that took a lot out of him, and you saw the effects in Cincinnati.   But I have no doubt that he’s going to be a huge challenger.” – Fernandez

  1. What do you all feel about this race for No. 1, and exactly where Serena might be at this point in time with her tennis?

FERNÁNDEZ:  I was with her in Rio.  She definitely was not 100 percent physically with her shoulder.  I think she made the right choice by not playing in Cincinnati and giving the shoulder a little bit more rest.  I think it was tough for her because the No. 1 ranking is important to her, and she’d like to not just tie Steffi Graf for No. 1 at consecutive weeks, but she’d like to break it. I think it’s great that it’s in her hands.  If she wins the US Open, she’ll keep the No. 1 ranking.  I do also feel like she’s played less this season.  I was looking at her tournaments, I want to say she’s only played seven tournaments, compared to everybody else, not that much.   It was inevitable that players were going to catch up, and Kerber has had such an amazing year by winning the Australian and reaching the finals at Wimbledon, she’s the first one.   I think Muguruza is pretty close, too.  So it makes it exciting.  They are playing for a lot.  They are playing to break records and for the No. 1 ranking.

EVERT:  Yeah, I think just to add on to that, there’s a lot at stake for her, like Mary Joe says, to break Steffi in so many different ways:  First of all, to win 23, and also the consecutive weeks.   She’s had enough time off so that ‑‑ whereas, a lot of the other players seem to be a little tired after the Olympics, because it’s been a really intense, demanding summer for players who have done well at the French and Wimbledon and the Olympics; Serena on the other hand seems to be rested up.  Yes, she was injured.  Hopefully she can get that shoulder ‑‑ I think a lot of it has to do with her shoulder because that serve is the big key for her to win matches.  Yes, she has a lot to fall back on if her serve is not working but it makes life tough for her and she wins a lot of free points on that serve.  The women are only getting better and only gaining more confidence when they play against her.   There’s going to be pressure on Serena.  There was pressure on her last year for different reasons, but this year, Mary Joe, don’t you think there will be a lot of pressure on her also?

FERNÁNDEZ:  There’s still so much.

EVERT:  Serena being No. 2 in the world doesn’t sort of sit well with her.  I think, once again, it’s going to be a pressure.  And the other players, hopefully Kerber is not burned out, because she has every right to be after this year she’s had.   Muguruza, to me, really hasn’t gotten her game back after winning the French.  So a lot of it is dependent also on how the other women are playing and if they believe they can beat her.

DRYSDALE:  From where I sit, the pressure that you two are talking about is going to be a lot less intense this year than it was last year; that she finally buckled during the semifinal.  I think she’s always the clear favorite for every major.  Everybody knows that.  That’s been the case for so long now.  And I think, this to me, anyway, this is hers.  It’s always hers to win, but I think she’s going to win it this year, because I think the pressure in general is off of her now.   As you said, she’s had, generally speaking, a very short year, played very few matches.  I think she’ll be eager to go, and I think that for her, the US Open will always be probably the most important event of her year, and I think she’s going to win it again.

 

  1. You talked specifically about the demands that have been placed on the players with the busy schedule.  Who else to you looks fresh that could possibly threaten Serena at The Open, and whimsical question, if we look at our crystal ball, who for Roberta Vinci this year?

EVERT:  You know, I always think Madison Keys inevitably will come through.  She seems to have had ‑‑ she’s come close.  She’s beaten Venus and she’s played Serena some good matches, and I always think if she’s on her A Game, and Serena is off, I always give her a shot.   But you know, you’re right, Muguruza, as I said before, unless she’s playing her A Game, she just doesn’t ‑‑ she’s like hot or cold.  But unless she plays her A Game, she doesn’t have a chance.   Kerber always will, and if she’s fresh, I think that she is going to be a contender.  But you know, and I’m thinking Cliff Drysdale, who always disagrees with Mary Joe and I no matter what we say, I’m kind of ‑‑ he kind of brought up a good point in the sense of Serena, yes, because she’s had time off, and because she’s ‑‑ I think this will give her motivation and she will be fresher than ever.   You know, it’s Serena playing well ‑‑ I mean, Serena not being in top form, that’s how she loses matches.  But it’s also, the other side of the equation, is somebody coming up and playing some really great tennis.   And who is that going to be?  I mean, are the players tired?  Are they ‑‑ can Radwanska, does she have enough weapons?  I don’t think so.  So that’s why I’m looking at Madison and I’m looking at Kerber, Muguruza on a great day.  But it’s going to be tough.   And there’s so many other girls, women, out there, that all of a sudden, at the Olympics, started playing well.  You don’t know if a dark horse is going to come along and play Serena a great match.  But I think that once she’s in the second week, I think that’s when she’s her toughest.

DRYSDALE:  What about Monica Puig, ladies?

FERNÁNDEZ:  She’s the outsider.  She’s not even seeded.  She could definitely cause some damage.  And she hasn’t played since the Olympics.  Madison has not played since the Olympics and she’ll be fresh.   I also think players like Halep and Pliskova, they didn’t go to the Olympics, so they will be a little bit more fresh mentally and physically, and they are both playing well.  But I think those that went and played well, like a Kerber; poor Radwanska had to fly, I don’t know, like three days to get to the Olympics.  That took a lot out of her.   But I think the one player that’s always dangerous that has never really done well at the US Open, but if she gets hot, is Kvitova.  You have to sort of always look out for her.

DRYSDALE:  Keys and Halep for the reasons you mentioned, and Sloane Stephens has beaten her on a huge occasion.  I would put her as the third one of my dark horses.  And other than the obvious ones that you’ve been talking about, Kerber, Muguruza, Radwanska, I don’t think they have the arsenal of shots to be able to play with Serena.

EVERT:  You know, Mary Joe, you brought up Halep before.  She is somebody that, I mean, she’s somebody who is starting to play well, but her ‑‑ if she just had a better attitude and if she just wasn’t so tough on herself, she’d be another level higher.  I think Halep on a really good day, she’s potential, too.  She’s got potential to beat Serena.

FERNÁNDEZ:  This is the most consistent I’ve seen her for awhile, winning the two back‑to‑back tournaments, reaching the semis against Kerber.  She started to play well after she was down a set at 40‑love.  But if she can bottle that kind of tennis and intensity and concentration and keep the attitude positive, she’s definitely one that should be a contender.

 

  1. Curious if you think that Djokovic is not the favorite going in?  Federer said earlier today he thought he still is, even though he’s had a little bit of a murky summer.  And curious from your perspective what kind of player Serena was 17 years ago when at age 17, she won her first US Open.  Was she a very different player?  And maybe first impressions you’ve had of that breakout run.

DRYSDALE:  Djokovic is to me still the favorite.  I’m giving him 55 to 45.  Andy Murray obviously having a really good second half of the year.   This game is based on really four legs:  You’ve got to be able to get to the ball, you’ve got to be able to hit it and you’ve got to have some strategic jeans to you when you reach that level, but the other one is confidence.   And to the extent that confidence is the most important leg, and Andy Murray is obviously more than a contender, but Djokovic is in my view going to win it again.   How quickly we forget, what have you done for me lately.  It was two months ago that we were talking about him winning the Grand Slam, the first man since Rod Laver to do it, and now we say, suddenly, gee, can he win the US Open.  The answer to me is yes, he can and yes, he will.

FERNÁNDEZ:  He’s only lost five matches all year, so he’s still a favorite for sure.   It’s curious, I don’t know, Chrissie, if you got to see any of the Tennis Channel yesterday.  I was with my son at the tennis courts, and they were showing old matches, and it was Serena, and my son was like, oh, my gosh, they were so good such a long time ago (laughing).  And it was fun to watch.   I think she’s better now, but she was really good back then.  Now she has a better understanding of how to construct points and uses angles and I think is more aware of strategy.  But wow, I mean, she was still, back then, the serve was as powerful.  They were great.  It was fun to watch.

EVERT:  I think you could see the eagerness and the hunger in her more back then.   Obviously at this point in her career, she’s going to have scratchier ‑‑ at the end of your career, you always have scratchy matches where you just can’t be as consistent.   But I mean, if somebody once asked her, do you remember winning your first US Open, she goes, “Yeah, I just went out and hit the ball.  I had no idea what I was doing.”  And I think that sums it up.  She had no strategy.  She just hit the ball.  That’s the way she was taught by Richard; just hit the ball, and she made a lot more errors.  But she was a great athlete and she had the power.  But you know, as like now, she uses her head a lot more on the court.

 

  1. Steve Johnson is now the top‑ranked American.  How surprised are you guys at that, and what do you think his ceiling is?  And for the women’s side, besides Serena, who are your favorites?

DRYSDALE:  Stevie Johnson, he’s come of age, 26 years old.  He’s got a lot of years, so he’s overtaken Isner as the top American.  He’s a strong competitor.  If you’re asking me if he’s a contender to win The Open, I would be very hesitant to say that.   I think he has obviously a good chance and he’s got a great arsenal.  And it’s sort of ‑‑ sometimes later on in life, because he was a USC grad.  I look forward to seeing him continue to progress.  I guess he’s got a medal under his belt, too, now.  So it’s a nice story.

 

  1. What’s his ceiling?  Does he have Top‑10 potential?

DRYSDALE:  I would hesitate to put him in the Top‑10.  I’m going to have to look at him for another 12 months before I’d commit to that.  Because he started out really badly, you know, and now he’s come on.   And again, if his confidence level is up and I think he’s had a good last few months generally speaking.  But it’s too early in my book, anyway, to put him in the Top‑10.

FERNÁNDEZ:  I was able to see him up close in Rio and I was really impressed with his speed.  He is so fast.  He hides his weaknesses extremely well, which is his back hand, but it’s actually not that bad of a weakness because he keeps the ball low and waits to use his forehand.  He serves really well.  Comes to the net really well.  Has a great attitude.  He really was so positive from start to finish.   But you look at the rankings, and he’s 19, I believe, right now.  So can he get to 10?  Yeah, why not.  You have players up there like Balsan (ph) and Lopez (ph) are ahead of him.  He could.  If he has these consistent results week‑in and week‑out, like he did just did in Cincinnati, there’s no reason why not.  Because he plays to his strengths really, really well.

EVERT:  As far as you’re talking about the women, challenging Serena, was that the next question?

 

  1. Who are the other contenders?

EVERT:  You’ve got to look at Serena with the shoulder injury; you don’t know where she’s going to be, okay.  But at the same time, she’s got to be going in there fresh and I think motivated to maintain, to keep the No. 1 ranking and win 23.  Kerber, we answered this before, but you probably weren’t on the line.  Kerber obviously is playing some unbelievable tennis this summer.  Mentally got a lot stronger.  Muguruza, she wins the French, and then the last two tournaments, she’s really not looked good the last two tournaments.  Not looked like she’s made any adjustments to the hard court.   I’m a Madison Keys fan because of her power on her serve and her ground strokes.  And if she could ever get it all together and believe and trust herself and play her A Game, I think she could be a threat.  And then the other one was Halep, who seems to be playing a little sharper.  But she needs to believe in herself and have a little bit better attitude.   Mary Joe mentioned Kvitova.  Even she doesn’t look like she’s playing her best tennis.  It’s something that somebody’s got to step up, and it’s been a tough year, because a lot of people are getting probably a little bit tired.   But at this point, you know, someone’s got to realize that they have got a chance against Serena.  Someone’s got to step up.  We’ll see who that is.

DRYSDALE:  One quick comment.  You talk about Steve Johnson, the sliced backhand.  I’m so fascinated by the fact that Juan Martín del Potro ‑‑ and this was not your question.   But here is a guy who is playing with 50 percent of what he used to have on one side of his body, the backhand side.  He’s slicing the ball now for the most part.  He’ll hit two‑handed every so often.   But we’ve sort of seen a mini‑come back of the sliced back hand, and I’m thrilled about it.  I like it.  I’m just in awe of how del Potro has been able to come back basically on crutches when it comes to your tennis game.  You lose one of your major shots, and usually it spells doom.  So fascinated by how he’s been able to do it.

EVERT:  Mary Joe, did you watch any of his matches up close?

FERNÁNDEZ:  I did.  Yeah, I did.  He’s definitely hitting his back hand more than he was at Wimbledon.  But I think he’s realized that the slice is quite effective and it’s setting up his forehand nicely ‑‑ bigger than it was before.

EVERT:  That was my question.  Seems like he’s hitting it bigger than before.  It seems like he’s hitting it bigger than before and it seems like he’s moving pretty well.

FERNÁNDEZ:  Definitely.

EVERT:  He’s a big guy.

FERNÁNDEZ:  He played great.  He was so emotional about all his victories.  But I think because, what Cliffy said, the slice isn’t always a weakness and he’s learned to use it to set himself up.  And because he wants to cover the backhand a little bit more, I think that’s why he’s going for an even bigger forehand.

EVERT:  That’s true.

DRYSDALE:  Not to forget, he’s got an unbelievable serve anyway.  But that was not the question, sorry.

 

  1. Picking up what you were just all talking about…..if you had to pick an outsider like a del Potro, Cilic, someone like that on the men’s side, who would you look at?  And to pick up on what Chrissie was saying about Serena, if the shoulder is in a state where she can’t consistently hit 115, 118, can she be a spot server, mix in the slice and the kick, and still be a US Open Champion, or does Serena need the fastball, really need to be able to bring the heat, at 5‑all, 30‑all, to beat Serena?

DRYSDALE:  First of all, you didn’t introduce yourself to me.  Usually we start off by you telling me your name and who you represent, after all these years (laughter).   So the dark horse, the dark horses on the men’s side for me are the aforementioned del Potro.  It’s really setting up to be a fascinating contest at the Open because Raonic is again one of the big servers who on a relatively fast hard court, just like on grass, has got a potential.   Cilic is coming back, and getting his serve to where it was when he won the US Open a couple of years ago, means that he’s another real tough dark horse.  Then you’ve got the big four, with the exception, obviously Roger is not playing, but even Rafa, apparently, Mary Joe looked pretty good down in Rio, as well, even though he didn’t win the singles.  I like Kyrgios has also had a win this summer in Atlanta.  So, man, you’ve got a lot of contenders and I think for the first time, you’ve got the top three now in the world who are ‑‑ this is not a cakewalk for them anymore.

FERNÁNDEZ:  On the guy’s side, I’d go with all those that Cliffy mentioned.  I mean, Cilic, it was the first time he got to a Masters 1000 final and he ends up beating Murray in it, playing really well.  It was nice to see that happen.   Dominic Thiem has had a great season.  He said he was beat up after Wimbledon.  Is he fresh; can he translate his great play to the US Open?  I think we’ll see.  I think Monfils (ph), is the best I’ve seen him week‑in and week‑out.  He’s had injuries, though, so that’s always a question mark in my book.  Kyrgios can beat anyone on a given day.  Can he do it over two weeks, three out of five, I’m not sure yet.  And then you have your big servers.  You have Isner and Karlovic, can they come up with some upsets.  It was nice to see Grieger (ph) have two great weeks and winning some matches again.  But at the end of the day you still go with Djokovic, Murray and Rafa in my book.

EVERT:  Don’t forget Wawrinka.  He could all of a sudden up his game.  He’s shown that he can play great on a hard court.  My two dark horses would be del Potro and Cilic.  Those two I think could have a chance to win the tournament.  The other ones, again, that you named Mary Joe, I think are great for an upset or two, but I think to win the tournament, you’ve go to have that big power game.

FERNÁNDEZ:  And Nishikori.  He played great at the Olympics, too, and he’s been to the finals there.  So he’s a potential, too.

 

  1. Any thoughts on Serena?  (followup from above)

EVERT:  Oh, geez, that’s a tough question.

FERNÁNDEZ:  It is.  I think she can still win without her serve blasting all the time.  It will be that much harder.  I think the type of player ‑‑ the draw can obviously be a big part of it.  If she plays a lot of players that are fast and can counter‑punch and make her hit a ton of balls, it will be more challenging.  But you know, can she get away with it?  Yeah, she’s that good, of course.  It will just be much, much harder.

EVERT:  Yeah, I think we saw her at the Olympics.  We’ve seen her in tournaments at her three‑quarter, and she has that serve out wide and she has the nice one down the T.  But I think because she has such a great return serve and she can break easily, especially with a lot of players like a Halep and a Kerber and Radwanska having weaker second serves, I think because she has such a great second serve, she can get away with not having her a serve and placing it.

DRYSDALE:  If you would have asked me the question six months ago, I would have said there’s really no chance that she with one of her major weapons and the biggest shot in tennis ‑‑ 50 to 75 percent, would I have said no chance.  But I would is said the same thing with del Potro and with his injury and his left wrist.  It’s become a tough one.   I don’t think she’s going to be able to do it, if she’s that far down on the serve effectiveness or her serve speed.  But we will see.

 

  1. Is there an 800‑pound elephant in this world called age?  34 years is quite a lot, I’m both on the clock physically and emotionally.  And the other question is about Rafa.  Have you all given up hope on him?  Do you think he can really do it?

EVERT:  You know, I’m just going to answer the thing about Serena.  I played the Tour when I was 34.  I retired when I was 34.  And mind you, we definitely had different games and I didn’t rely on what she relies on.  But the fact of the matter is, when you get older, you have less days that you’re motivated and you have less days that you ‑‑ you really have more flat days, because it’s just mentally, emotionally and physically, those three components, aren’t always in sync.   And when you’re young and you’re eager and you’re just on the Tour, those three components are usually in sync, and that’s why you play so well.   So it’s so understandable to me, as I said before, that she has some scratchy matches during the year and she doesn’t play well.  But her high level of play is still higher than any other player.   So you know, who knows if she can get ‑‑ what it takes for her to get that high level out there, but we know it’s still there.  We’ve seen it this year and it is still there.  And if she can get it going, she’s still going to win majors.   But she’s definitely going to have more bad days.

DRYSDALE:  Jimmy Connors, 39 years old, semifinal US Open; Kenny Rosewall, finalist at Wimbledon, 39, finalist at the US Open.  Age is very much a relative thing.  As you said, Chrissie, to me, it’s not an issue.  Very interesting what you say, by the way, about motivation, because I think that’s correct.  It’s so much easier to go out when you’re 17 years old and just hit the crap out of the ball and don’t worry about it, and then you start to think about what you’re doing.   So you probably have more up and downs.  Except that how many downs has she had since this latest come back?  She’s still No. 1 after going on a record number of weeks.  Age is not an issue for Serena for me, not an issue.

FERNÁNDEZ:  I was just going to add, the only issue I see as she gets older is her wanting it that much more and knowing that maybe the window is closing, so that adds pressure to Serena.  But not because physically she can’t do it.  I think if she’s healthy, she can stay at the top of the game for another three years.

EVERT:  But at the same time, don’t you feel like her body is starting to let her down a little bit?  I mean, she’s had, the last two years, really, she’s had ‑‑ I could venture six to eight times she’s had to pull out of tournaments because of injury.  Definitely the body is starting to feel the effects.

FERNÁNDEZ:  And the Rafa question, I saw him in Rio and he looked really good.  He looked very hungry.  I felt like his forehand was better than it had been.   I do feel he played so much in the first few days that it caught up to him towards the end.  He had to play del Potro and Nishikori back‑to‑back after having the Gold Medal in doubles, and I think that took a lot out of him, and you saw the effects in Cincinnati.   But I have no doubt that he’s going to be a huge challenger.  I still think he’s going to win another French Open.  I still think he’s that motivated and he’s that good.   He’s seeded four, so that could work in his favor with the draw, and nobody likes to play Rafa.  Everybody knows that to play Rafa, they know they have to play their very best to beat him.

DRYSDALE:  I have a fine dining dinner bet with Chris Fowler that he’s going to win another major, and I’m beginning to lose confidence that I’m going to win the bet.  With that said, I agree with everything Mary Joe said and I think that I would put him in my book as a No. 3 or 4 favorite to win the title in New York.

EVERT:  Yeah, after watching him play, if he’s as eager as he seemed to look on the court, he’s only going to get better.  And he knows the little tweaks he can make in his game, which is from rust and from maybe not hitting with enough confidence.   He knows what he needs to do, and I think if he gets a little more aggressive, and makes a few more little adjustments and really wants it badly enough, he’s going to go nowhere but up.  So I think he’s still in the game.

DRYSDALE:  We have not given up on Rafa (laughter).

 

  1. I’m going to follow up on Monica Puig.  Have you seen her over the years?  And Mary Joe, you just witnessed it as her captain.  Was it a fluke?  Does she have an arsenal that that could be her breakout?

FERNÁNDEZ:  I was so impressed, I have to tell you, I watched a few of her matches, and I haven’t seen her that consistently.  If she played that kind of tennis, she would be in the Top‑10.  She served really well.  Tough to attack in her back hand.  That was her major strength.  She really attacked well with the back hand and ran well.  Like it was tough to get the ball by her.  The question is her consistency.  And Chrissie, you probably have seen her more with her training and stuff, but she has all the tools in my opinion.

EVERT:  And I think I said this to you before:  She has had a new purpose this whole year in her practicing.  She’s had a different intensity, Darren work ethic.  She worked her butt off, and I think Juan Todero serves a lot of credit because of that.  They make a great team.  And I ‑‑ along the lines of Mary Joe, it’s one thing, we knew she could always hit the ball hard, but never being that consistent.  She was out rallying players with a lot of power, and I hope she can keep it up.  You don’t know what that big elephant, that big word, pressure, you don’t know what that’s going to do, now that she’s won the Olympics; the expectations, what we’ve seen it’s done to other players.  Hopefully she won’t fall into that category.  But if she can keep that up level and not make the errors that she’s making and still hit the ball; and she’s also leaner.  She’s lost weight.  She’s in better shape.  It’s not only her game; her moving was a lot better.  Is she a fluke?  No.  She’s not a fluke.  I agree; she could be in the Top‑10.  Could she be No. 1?  I’m not going to go that far.  But I think just to consistently be in the Top‑10, if she continues this wave of momentum, yes, she could be.

 

  1. Sloane Stephens, I guess she won three smaller tournaments this year.  Similar, is it a fire‑in‑the‑belly thing?  Will Sloane ever get it back?

FERNÁNDEZ:  I hope she gets it well.  It’s funny, she was doing well at the majors and not the Tour level and now she’s doing well at the Tour level and not as well as the majors.  We have to get Sloane to do both at the same time.  She’s another one, she’s got all the ingredients, she’s got all the weapons.  It’s a matter of putting it together consistently, and that’s the toughest part.  I mean, Chrissie knows better than everyone.  Mentally, to be there week‑in, week‑out, that’s what separates everyone from the top of the field.

EVERT:  You really have to make that mental and emotional commitment to the game.  I think that’s what Madison Keys is learning right now.  She’s put more of a ‑‑ she’s made more of a commitment to tennis.  She could still be better.  But I think that’s what Sloane is lacking and I cringe when I say it, because I think everybody ‑‑ she has so much talent and everybody goes at their own speed and at their own pace.  But I think that has to be revved up a little bit, again, that intensity and that desire, really, to do well.

DRYSDALE:  I just wanted to say quickly on Sloane, in the career of an athlete, and tennis players in particular, there comes a moment in the career when sort of the light switch gets turned on.  And it’s hard for me to imagine that Chrissie, both you and MJ talk about the talent question.  When you’ve got that talent that Sloane has, I’m just waiting more the moment when the light goes on and she really breaks through.  Because I think it’s going to happen.

FERNÁNDEZ:  Yeah, that would be great.  We all want that for her.

 

  1. I wanted to hear opinions on how significant the No. 1 ranking is.  Serena is holding on for dear life and Novak is getting chased a bit by Andy here.  Particularly Chrissie, you spend 260 weeks at the top; you wrestled back and forth with Martina for about five years.  How important was it for you then, and how do you look back on the significance of those weeks at the top now?  And in general, how important do you think today’s players perceive the No. 1 ranking to be?

EVERT:  I mean, when I was No. 1, there’s no way I wanted to lose it.  It’s a pride thing.  It could be an ego thing, too.  It’s a pride; there’s just a big difference between being No. 1 and being on top, and being No. 2 and being No. 3.  It’s a tremendous, powerful feeling to be on the top and to be the one that everybody is striving to beat.  I mean, that’s how I felt.  I think Martina felt the same way, and I think Billie Jean in our day.  Serena is the No. 1 player.  Serena is arguably the greatest player of all time.  So for her not to be bothered to be No. 2 ‑‑ I don’t think that’s ‑‑ I don’t think that’s a true statement.  Because I think she does take great pride in being No. 1.

DRYSDALE:  Any idiot knows that if you’re No. 1 in the world, it’s a huge confidence booster.  My feeling about No. 1, in tennis, particular, confidence plays such a big part.  And if you go through the history of the sport, it’s always been dominated by somebody, by the No. 1 player.   And for the confidence quotient in a career, it’s just so important; that if you are No. 1 ‑‑ look, there’s another issue.  And that is I think if you were to say to Serena, would you rather at the end of the year be No. 1 or win the US Open, for her, I would say, I’m 90 percent sure that she would say, I want to win the US Open, because I think titles are as important as No. 1 in the world.  But that confidence quotient thing, that, to me, tennis ‑‑ it’s true in every sport.  It’s true in golf obviously.  In the team sports, individual confidence is not nearly the same, it’s not nearly as much of a factor.  In tennis, the confidence thing is huge.  If you are No. 1, you’re really confident.  So those things work in tandem.

FERNÁNDEZ:  For every top player, it’s important.

EVERT:  I just want to say one sentence before Mary Joe.  I’m thinking about, you said comparing the days.   In my day, I think our ‑‑ because the Grand Slams were not as important, we would rather end up No. 1 and win one Grand Slam versus win two Grand Slams and end up No. 2.

FERNÁNDEZ:  That’s so interesting.   You’re right, and I think it’s changed.  Now the slams are so important and the focus is so much on them that it probably would take a major before the No. 1 ranking.   But I think just seeing Serena take the wild‑card in Cincinnati, not being 100 percent, because she wanted to see if there was any chance she could prevent Kerber from taking her spot, shows how important it is to her.  I think when players say the No. 1 ranking is not important is when they know they are not going to be there.  So I think the No. 1 ranking for the very few at the top is super important.

 

  1. Talking about Andy Murray, he’s played an awful lot, coming straight from Rio to Cincinnati.  Is there a danger, can you play too many matches if you’re playing as well as that?  And how do you think his preparation will contrast with Djokovic, who obviously skipped Cincinnati?  And Johanna Konta could be a bit of an outsider to make a run in the women’s event?

DRYSDALE:  Yeah, that’s a good reminder.  Johanna Konta, down in Australia, I remember telling the chairman of the All England Club, I said:  To me, this is not just a flash in the pan, because she’s got some serious ‑‑ some serious shots.  So yeah, we should throw Johanna Konta into this little mix as somebody who could be a factor at the Open.  As for your man from Scotland, the kind of condition that he has kept himself in for these years; he made a decision to turn himself into a super human athlete, as opposed to just tennis player.  I think that’s going to stand him in really good stead; that No. 1.  No. 2. is the confidence quotient, is for him now ‑‑ with all of the match 22, I guess in a row, and before he lost in the final in Cincinnati.  But the confidence quotient, when you’re winning that number of matches, is huge.  And again, that’s one of the four pillars of what makes an athlete and what makes a great champion is the confidence quotient, and he certainly has it.  Now, I’m still backing his nemesis at the majors, Mr. Djokovic, but if you are asking ‑‑ if the question is, is this the best chance going into a major for Andy Murray, my answer is unquestionably yes.

FERNÁNDEZ:  About Konta.  She’s been impressive.  The last 12 months, what a jump.  She had to qualify for the US Open last year, was ranked outside the top 110.  She has improved in so many categories starting with her serve.  I think she has the third most aces for the season.   The backhand is very good; that’s her weapon.  The forehand used to be a weakness, and now she can get more topspin on it and pull players off the court with it.  She has been impressive.  She’s in the Top 15 now.  Most improved by far in the last 12 months.   So yes, can she make a deep run?  Definitely.

EVERT:  Yeah, she’s a big hitter and she wins a lot of free points off her serve.              I just think these players, if they have one big weapon, they are going to be the ones that are going to make the deep runs, and she’s got the serve.  She’s got the backhand.  I love her attitude and I think she’s very intense and I think she’s very smart on the court.  I think she analyzes the situation very well.  She’s one of the more mature players, one of the more composed players.  So definitely, she could get deep in to make a quarter or even make a semi, if all her weapons are in place.

 

  1.  In the prognostication game, I would love to hear who you think will become the next No. 1 on the men’s and women’s side?  Do you think Kerber and Murray are locks to be the next?

FERNÁNDEZ:  I think Kerber has obviously the best chance.  Serena has got to make it through at least the semis to hold on it because she got to that stage last year and Kerber I believe lost in the third round.  So just mathematically, she has the best chance of overtaking her.   Yeah, Murray is gobbling up the points.  He’s played so well and he plays consistently week‑in and week‑out.  He’s winning when he’s not playing his best and I think that gives you confidence.  Those two for me would be the next ones.

EVERT:  This might not happen.  It might not happen.  But if it does happen, it will be Murray and Kerber Muguruza for me.   Cliffy, what about you?

DRYSDALE:  Stewart, he throws these questions at us, knowing full well he wants the answer:  It’s Andy Murray, of course.

FERNÁNDEZ:  He got what he wanted.

DRYSDALE:  He’s a Scot.  He understands.  So definitely Andy Murray.  As for the ladies, it’s definitely not as much of a sink for Kerber, but she ‑‑ I’m really in awe of her talents as a tennis player.  She has got a very ‑‑ the other thing is I think mentally she’s stronger.  So yeah, Kerber, Murray.

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ESPN 2016 US Open Broadcast Schedule

 

ESPN

ESPN & the 2016 US Open

Date Time (ET) Event Network(s)
Fri Aug 26 11:30 a.m. Men’s and Womens’ Singles Draw

Media Day Press Conferences

WatchESPN
Sun Aug 28 1 p.m. SportsCenter on the Road powered by Ford ESPN2
  2 p.m. Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess ABC
Mon Aug 29 11 a.m.

1 p.m.

US Open First Round WatchESPN

ESPN

  6 p.m. US Open First Round ESPN2
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – First Round ESPN2
Tue Aug 30 11 a.m.

1 p.m.

US Open First Round WatchESPN

ESPN

  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – First Round ESPN
Wed Aug 31 11 a.m.

1 p.m.

US Open Second Round WatchESPN

ESPN

  6 p.m. US Open Second Round ESPN2
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Second Round ESPN2
Thur Sep 1 11 a.m.

1 p.m.

US Open Second Round WatchESPN

ESPN

  6 p.m. US Open Second Round ESPN2
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Second Round ESPN2
Fri Sep 2 11 a.m.

1 p.m.

US Open Third Round WatchESPN

ESPN

  6 p.m. US Open Third Round ESPN2
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Third Round ESPN2
Sat Sep 3 11 a.m.

 

US Open Third Round ESPN2

WatchESPN

  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Third Round ESPN2
Sun Sep 4 11 a.m. US Open Round of 16 ESPN2

WatchESPN

  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Round of 16 ESPN2
Mon Sept 5 11 a.m.

 

US Open Round of 16 ESPN2

WatchESPN

  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Round of 16 ESPN2
Tue Sep 6 11 a.m.

Noon

US Open Quarterfinals WatchESPN

ESPN

  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Quarterfinals ESPN
Wed Sep 7 11 a.m.

Noon

US Open Quarterfinals WatchESPN

ESPN

  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Quarterfinals ESPN2
Thur Sept 8 Noon

7 p.m.

US Open Doubles Matches

US Open Women’s Semifinals

WatchESPN

ESPN / ESPN Deportes

Fri Sept 9 Noon US Open Mixed Doubles Championship ESPN2
  3 p.m. US Open Men’s Semifinals ESPN / ESPN Deportes
Sat Sept 10 Noon US Open Men’s Doubles Championship WatchESPN
  4 p.m. US Open Women’s Championship ESPN / ESPN Deportes
Sun Sept 11 Noon US Open Women’s Doubles Championship WatchESPN
  3:30 p.m. US Open Men’s Championship Preview Special ESPN
  4 p.m. US Open Men’s Championship ESPN / ESPN Deportes

 

ESPN Goes “All in” for US Open:  Serena Seeks 23rd Major to Break Open Era Record;
Murray and Djokovic Lead the Men…all under the New Roof
·         First Ball to Last Ball, Exclusive to ESPN Starting August 29
·         130+ Hours on TV and WatchESPN; A Record 1,300 More on WatchESPN from 12 Courts
·         Phil Collins Performs Opening Night including Duet with “Hamilton” Star Leslie Odom, Jr.

 

Whether under the hot summer sun, the starry New York skies or – for the first time – a roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, ESPN will go “all in” on its exclusive coverage of the US Open with 130 live hours on television plus a record 1,300 on WatchESPN with daylong matches from up to 12 courts (was 11 last year).  The action at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center starts Monday, Aug. 29, and continues with daily, extensive and exclusive coverage through the Women’s Championship on Saturday, Sept. 10, and the Men’s Championship on Sunday, Sept. 11.

 

The guest list for the annual late-summer party is headlined by top-ranked Serena Williams, who seeks her 23rd Major title, to break the Open Era record she currently shares with Steffi Graf.  The recent Wimbledon champion is also currently tied with ESPN’s Chrissie Evert with six US Open trophies.  On the men’s side No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 2 Andy Murray have combined for five of the six slots in Major finals this year; Djokovic downed Murray in Australia and France, Murray defeated Milos Raonic at Wimbledon.

 

“We’re excited to showcase the US Open in our second year as the exclusive media partner in the U.S.,” said Scott Guglielmino, ESPN senior vice president, programming.  “In 2015, we saw the audience grow and get younger on TV and we expanded our coverage with more matches than ever before across all platforms on WatchESPN.  The new roof on Arthur Ashe Stadium, the new Grandstand court and the storylines coming off compelling action at the Olympics will ensure a fantastic two weeks in New York.”

 

What’s New?

Besides, of course, the roof on Ashe and the new Grandstand court….

  • WatchESPN has an additional court of coverage – now 12 – making for a record 1,300 hours offered.
  • Press Conferences on WatchESPN – Media Day is August 26, then all day everyday once play begins.
  • Expanded SportsCenter on the Road preview show, now 60 minutes Sunday, Aug. 28, on ESPN2 at 1 pm. ET.
  • ESPN Deportes now to carry the semifinals in addition to the championships.
  • Arthur Ashe Kids Day moves to ABC – Sunday, August 28, at 2 p.m. ET.

 

ESPN2’s live coverage of the opening Monday night will include a performance from Arthur Ashe Stadium by Phil Collins in his first major public appearance in six years.  For the ceremony, the Oscar winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer will perform his debut solo single, “In the Air Tonight,” which is the opening track on his forthcoming album, “The Singles,” to be released in October along with the publication of his autobiography, “Not Dead Yet.”  Collins will also be joined by “Hamilton” star and Tony Award winner Leslie Odom, Jr. for a duet.  The Broadway star, a native of Queens, N.Y., will sing the national anthem.

 

Before the action begins, WatchESPN will present live the singles brackets draw Friday, Aug. 26 at 11:30 a.m., followed by press conferences with top players from Media Day.

 

Also, on Sunday, Aug. 28, ESPN2 will air SportsCenter on the Road at 1 p.m. to preview the tournament, followed by a one-hour review of Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess at 2 p.m. and airing for the first time on ABC.  Joey Bragg of the Disney Channel will host the telecast.  Multi-platinum hip-hop artist Flo Rida, international pop star Zara Larsson, award-winning Disney Channel actress Laura Marano, Entertainment Weekly’s “One To Watch” Jordan Fisher, breakout pop band Forever In Your Mind and Australian singer-songwriter Troye Sivan will team up with tennis icons Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal at the 21st Annual Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day Presented by Hess.

 

ESPN has televised the US Open since 2009. An 11-year agreement with the USTA for exclusivity starting in 2015 was announced in May 2013.  Last year’s first-ever all-ESPN US Open was a tremendous success on television and on WatchESPN.

 

Highlights

  • The television coverage starts on ESPN at 1 p.m. ET each weekday the first week, and will continue nonstop – transitioning at 6 p.m. to ESPN2 (except Tuesday) – for at least 10 hours through both the day and the 7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM sessions until play is concluded.
  • All the action on Labor Day Weekend will be found in one place – ESPN2, starting at 11 a.m. all three days and likely to continue 12 or more hours.
  • Play on Tuesday, Sept. 6, and Wednesday, Sept. 7, will start on ESPN at noon, with prime-time matches on ESPN on Tuesday and ESPN2 on Wednesday starting at 7 p.m.
  • The women’s semifinals and championship will be played the second Thursday and Saturday; the men’s semis and championship on the second Friday and Sunday, Sept. 11, all on ESPN and Spanish-language ESPN Deportes.
  • In addition, the Mixed Doubles Championship will air live on ESPN2 on Friday, Sept. 9, at noon.
  • Play will begin each day on WatchESPN – at 11 a.m. through Wednesday, Sept. 7, and at noon the final four days – totaling a record 1,300 hours of action from up to 12 courts simultaneously (the most ever), including the Women’s and Men’s Doubles Championships.  For the first five days, full coverage of the matches on TV courts for the first two hours of action are exclusive to WatchESPN.
  • Also, an additional feed, the “US Open Chase Review Multicam,” will return. For the first eight days of the tournament (through Monday, Sept. 5) during the daytime action it will have three screens – the courts on Ashe, Armstrong and Grandstand (see below).  Starting with the quarterfinals Tuesday, Sept. 6, the three screens will cover matches on Ashe, with iso-cams on each player and the traditional TV production.

 

 

  • New for 2016, WatchESPN will provide a feed dedicated to press conferences and other events in the main press conference room at the Bud Collins Media Center all day, every day.
  • WatchESPN is accessible on computers, smartphones, tablets, connected devices and smart TVs and available nationwide across all major providers through an affiliated video subscription.

 

Surveying the Fields

 

MEN

  • Is the ATP’s “Big Four” (“Big Five”?) now simply a “Big Two”? Of the last 46 Majors (more than 11 years), five players own every trophy but two:  Roger Federer (17 career Major wins), Rafael Nadal (14), Novak Djokovic (12), Andy Murray (3) and Stan Wawrinka (2).  The “Big Four” (all but Wawrinka) comprise 42 of the last 48 Major finalists and 70 of the last 84.
  • But, focusing on more recent competition….Djokovic has captured 11 of the last 24 Major titles, reaching the championship seven other times. In that span, Murray has won three, including this summer’s Wimbledon, while reaching the final on six other occasions.  In total, the duo – born one week apart in May 1987 – have filled 27 of 48 Major championship slots, including five of six in 2016.  Murray also has claimed the last two Olympic Gold Medals.

 

WOMEN

  • Fresh off a resounding triumph at Wimbledon – but recently troubled by a shoulder injury – a victory would be her 23rd Major title and a new Open Era record.  Steffi Graf has 22 (Margaret Court won 24, including 13 before 1968).  It would also be her seventh victory in New York, breaking the Open Era record of six she shares with ESPN’s Chrissie Evert.
  • The Field. If someone else were to win, it could be almost anyone.  Especially with Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka sidelined.  A year ago, it was Roberta Vinci who shocked the tennis world by ousting Serena before falling in the final to Flavia Pennetta (since retired).  In Australia, it was Angelique Kerber and at Wimbledon Garbiñe Muguruza. Meanwhile, the field includes former Major winners Ana Ivanovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Petra Kvitova, Francesca Schiavone, Sam Stosur and Venus Williams and players seemingly on the brink of breaking through:  Simona Halep, Aga Radwanska, American Madison Keys (won bronze in Rio) and perhaps others….maybe surprise Olympic champion Monica Puig of Puerto Rico.  Also, after taking the trophy in Cincinnati this past weekend in a solid victory over Kerber, Karolina Pliskova is up to No. 11 in the world and must be considered.

 

The ESPN Tennis Team, the best in television, at the US Open:

  • Darren Cahill, who once reached the US Open semifinals and the Australian Open doubles finals and went on to coach fellow Australian Lleyton Hewitt and Andre Agassi, has worked for ESPN since 2007.
  • Cliff Drysdale, who was inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame in July 2013, has been with ESPN since its first tennis telecast in September 1979 (Davis Cup, U.S. vs. Argentina).  He reached the US Open finals and is a two-time Wimbledon and French Open semifinalist.  Drysdale was a leader on the court – a top player for many years who was one of the first to use a two-hand backhand – and off the court, as the first president of the ATP.
  • Chrissie Evert, a Hall of Famer who joined ESPN in 2011, counts a record six US Opens among her 18 Major titles.  She recorded the best career win-loss record in history, reached more Major singles finals than any man or woman (34), and reached the semis or better in 34 consecutive Majors (1971-83).  The AP Female Athlete of the Year four times, in 1976 she was the first woman to be the sole recipient of Sports Illustrated’s Sportswoman of the Year.
  • Mary Joe Fernandez, 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 and 2016 U.S. Olympic women’s teams.
  • Chris Fowler – who joined ESPN in 1986, is the lead ESPN/ABC college football play caller and joined the ESPN tennis team in 2003 – will call matches.  He hosted College GameDay on football Saturdays 1990-2014, and has hosted World Cup soccer, college basketball including the Final Four, the X Games and Triple Crown horse racing events.  Originally, he was the first host of Scholastic Sports America and later was a SportsCenter
  • Brad Gilbert, whose flair and unique nicknames for players has enlivened ESPN’s tennis telecasts since 2004, parlayed his playing career – once reaching the quarterfinals of the US Open and at Wimbledon – into coaching Andre Agassi (six Major titles with Brad), Andy Roddick (US Open victory) and Andy Murray.
  • Jason Goodall will serve as a studio and match analyst.  A one-time standout among Juniors in Britain whose career was ended by injury at 21, he later coached Jennifer Capriati as well as ESPN’s Mary Joe Fernandez and Pam Shriver.
  • LZ Granderson, a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine (and formerly a tennis editor) and ESPN.com and an ABC News contributor, will provide his perspective in reports and features.  He often appears on SportsCenter, Outside the Lines and other ESPN programs.  He recently added TheUndefeated.com to his resume, as a writer.
  • John McEnroe won four US Open crowns – plus three at Wimbledon – during his storied career, which included 10 more major championships in doubles or mixed doubles.  He also led the U.S. to four Davis Cup titles and won the NCAA’s while attending Stanford.  He has worked for ESPN since 2009.
  • Patrick McEnroe, who has worked for ESPN since 1995, was the U.S. Davis Cup captain 2001-2010 and in 2007 the team won its first championship since 1995.  A three-time singles All-American at Stanford – where the team won NCAA titles in 1986 and 1988 – he served as General Manager, USTA Elite Player Development from 2008 – 2015.  He won the 1992 French Open doubles title and reached the 1991 Australian Open semifinals in singles.
  • Chris McKendry returns as host, a role she has filled at all the 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.
  • Pam Shriver, who started working for ESPN in 1990, long before her Hall of Fame career ended, played in the US Open finals at age 16 (losing to Evert) and won 21 Grand Slam titles in women’s doubles (another in Mixed) including five at the US Open plus a Gold Medal in doubles at the 1988 Olympics.
  • Hannah Storm joined ESPN in 2008 as a SportsCenter anchor and will serve as a host.  Previously, she spent five years with CBS’ The Morning Show and for NBC Sports hosted a variety of sports, including Wimbledon.  She was a producer on two ESPN Films tennis projects:  the 2010 documentary Unmatched reviewing the rivalry and friendship between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova, and Venus Vs. in 2013 about Venus Williams and her fight for gender equity in prize money.

 

Technology Provides Camera Angles to Take Viewers around, across and above the Action

ESPN’s commitment to the US Open provides an impressive range of technologies, including

  • Voya Axis replay technology freezes a moment in time and virtually spins the image in a full 360-degree rotation, using an array of 36 camera sensors installed around the Arthur Ashe Stadium.  ESPN, the only network to employ it at a Major, debuted it at last year’s US Open.
  • RailCam, a robotic camera that moves silently along the base of the wall on the southern end of Ashe Stadium, provides a superior ground-level look than the traditional static camera at a higher angle.  It is particularly useful in studying a player’s footwork and seeing the action from his or her point of view.
  • SpiderCam (see below), which ESPN debuted at the US Open in 2010 and has been exclusive to ESPN (for 2016, it is added to the world feed), is suspended high above the court and fans at Ashe and is able to move in all three dimensions with a camera that can pan, tilt and zoom.

 

 

MORE TV & DIGITAL MEDIA, AT HOME AND ABROAD

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

  • Courtcast:  One-stop shopping for the fan who wants to keep up on the action while on the go, as well as get involved in the social media conversation.  As a multi-tool application with live events via the WATCHESPN syndicated player, it provides all-court scoring, match stats, NOW card implementation, poll questions that are discussed on television, a rolling Twitter feed with the latest from the ESPN commentators and a scrolling bottom line.
  • Five Things We Learned:  Video series reviewing the top five storylines of the day
  • 60-Second Slice:  The key news of the day, in a one-minute video.
  • Digital Serve:  Daily original videos previewing the next day
  • Baseline Buzz:  Greg Garber, Peter Bodo, Melissa Isaacson, Johnette Howard, Howard Bryant and Matt Wilansky weigh in on the hottest topics with a daily, written, roundtable discussion.
  • At this minute video update:  Instant analysis off an exciting match or preview into the night session.

 

espnW will cover the US Open as always from its distinctive perspective. With Serena Williams going for a historic 23rd major title, coverage will focus on the American legend.

  • There’s something about Serena at the US Open: You can’t talk about Arthur Ashe Stadium without Serena Williams and you can’t talk about Serena Williams without Arthur Ashe Stadium. How the US Open’s show court and one of its greatest champions grew up together.
  • Quiz of the day: From Serena Williams’ Open history to her squad in the stands, test your US Open knowledge in a daily quiz.
  • Video features: Daily dispatches from America’s Major.
  • Plus,special tributes to Serena throughout her run at Flushing Meadows.

 

ESPN Interactive TV (see below) will be presented on DIRECTV and WATCHESPN. During the ESPN telecast windows for the first seven days, a six-screen mosaic will include the ESPN program, along with matches with commentary from five other courts. In total, viewers will have access to more than 435 hours of live tennis action and 140 extra matches.  Production will be enhanced with press conferences, interviews and features that will be added during court changeovers and between matches.  All six screens can be expanded to full screen or picture-in-picture at the touch of the remote button.  In addition, DIRECTV will offer interactive social media options for fans, plus real-time scoring, draws, and on-demand highlights – all without leaving the match the viewer is watching. For the first five days of the tournament, the two-hour CrossCourt program at 11 a.m. will return, previewing the matches of the day and showcasing early play from around the grounds.  Commentators include ESPN’s Allen Bestwick, and former players Leif Shiras, Luke Jensen, Rennae Stubbs, Jeff Tarango and Mark Woodforde.

 

 

ESPN Deportes will provide more than 140 live hours of Spanish-language content on television and via ESPN3, available via WATCHESPN. ESPN3 will present select matches, including the singles quarterfinals for both men and women and the men’s doubles championship.  ESPN Deportes TV will air the Men and Women’s semifinals and finals.  In addition, the men’s final will be preceded by a special pre-match show live from National Tennis Center. The Spanish-language live coverage will be complemented by the latest highlights, news, analysis and information every day on ESPNDeportes.com.  The web series ESPiaNdo will also return with daily recaps and analysis from the experts.

 

ESPN International will offer extensive high-definition US Open coverage throughout the Caribbean and Latin America including Brazil via its numerous regional media platforms.  ESPN Caribbean will televise first ball through to the final in English, totaling more than 125 hours.  In Spanish-speaking Latin America, ESPN will televise a total of 140 hours of live action, as well as a daily one-hour review of the best match of the day plus preview shows leading into the Men’s and Women’s Finals.  Veterans Luis Alfredo Alvarez and Eduardo Varela will provide the Spanish play-by-play alongside analysts Javier Frana and Jose Luis Clerc, both former US Open competitors.  That coverage will be enhanced by an anchor desk at the USTA National Tennis Center, with hosts Nicolas Pereira, Martin Urruty and Carolina Guillen.  In Brazil, ESPN will air side-by-side telecasts on two linear networks, offering over 170 hours of live tennis action combined.  Online, Latin America’s broadband service, ESPN Play (Watch ESPN in Brazil) will offer more than 1,400 hours of live streaming, which will include exclusive coverage of 12 different courts.  In addition, ESPN Argentina and ESPN Brasil will have reporters in New York conducting interviews and producing daily features for SportsCenter and ESPN’s complete line-up of daily news and information shows.  A daily Spanish-language recap, ESPiaNdo, hosted by Varela, Clerc, Frana and Alvarez, will include highlights and analysis within ESPNTenis.com – and in Brazil, ESPN will air a daily Portuguese-language wrap up show – Pelas Quadras.

 

ESPN Classic:  Great US Open Matches from the Past

ESPN Classic will allow fans to relive great US Open matches from the past in a 68-hour, 30-match marathon starting Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 1 a.m. and continuing to Friday, Aug. 26 at 9 p.m.  Highlights:

  • The oldest matches on the schedule are victories by John McEnroe in 1980 – a semifinal vs. Jimmy Connors and the final against Bjorn Borg – on Friday, Aug. 26, at 2 and 5 p.m.
  • The marathon starts with two memorable women’s finals – 1989, Steffi Graf vs. Martina Navratilova, August 24 at 1 a.m. (August 23 at 10 p.m. PT) followed at 3 a.m. by Navratilova vs. Chris Evert Lloyd from 1984.
  • The three-set 2012 women’s final – Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka – will air Wednesday, Aug. 24 at 8 p.m.
  • In a 2004 quarterfinal that included a number of questionable lines calls, Jennifer Capriati ousted Serena Williams 2-6, 6-4, 6-4, to be aired Thursday, Aug. 25, at 8 p.m.

 

The network will air more matches in the mornings of the second week of the tournament, notably the 1995 women’s final (Steffi Graf vs. Monica Seles) Tuesday, Sept. 6, at 8 a.m., the 1994 men’s final (Andre Agassi vs. Michael Stich) Friday, Sept. 9, at 8 a.m. and the 1995 men’s final (Pete Sampras vs. Agassi) immediately following at 10 a.m.

 

ESPN & the 2016 US Open

Date Time (ET) Event Network(s)
Fri Aug 26 11:30 a.m. Men’s and Womens’ Singles Draw

Media Day Press Conferences

WatchESPN
Sun Aug 28 1 p.m. SportsCenter on the Road powered by Ford ESPN2
  2 p.m. Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day presented by Hess ABC
Mon Aug 29 11 a.m.

1 p.m.

US Open First Round WatchESPN

ESPN

  6 p.m. US Open First Round ESPN2
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – First Round ESPN2
Tue Aug 30 11 a.m.

1 p.m.

US Open First Round WatchESPN

ESPN

  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – First Round ESPN
Wed Aug 31 11 a.m.

1 p.m.

US Open Second Round WatchESPN

ESPN

  6 p.m. US Open Second Round ESPN2
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Second Round ESPN2
Thur Sep 1 11 a.m.

1 p.m.

US Open Second Round WatchESPN

ESPN

  6 p.m. US Open Second Round ESPN2
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Second Round ESPN2
Fri Sep 2 11 a.m.

1 p.m.

US Open Third Round WatchESPN

ESPN

  6 p.m. US Open Third Round ESPN2
  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Third Round ESPN2
Sat Sep 3 11 a.m.

 

US Open Third Round ESPN2

WatchESPN

  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Third Round ESPN2
Sun Sep 4 11 a.m. US Open Round of 16 ESPN2

WatchESPN

  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Round of 16 ESPN2
Mon Sept 5 11 a.m.

 

US Open Round of 16 ESPN2

WatchESPN

  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Round of 16 ESPN2
Tue Sep 6 11 a.m.

Noon

US Open Quarterfinals WatchESPN

ESPN

  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Quarterfinals ESPN
Wed Sep 7 11 a.m.

Noon

US Open Quarterfinals WatchESPN

ESPN

  7 p.m. Primetime at the US Open presented by IBM – Quarterfinals ESPN2
Thur Sept 8 Noon

7 p.m.

US Open Doubles Matches

US Open Women’s Semifinals

WatchESPN

ESPN / ESPN Deportes

Fri Sept 9 Noon US Open Mixed Doubles Championship ESPN2
  3 p.m. US Open Men’s Semifinals ESPN / ESPN Deportes
Sat Sept 10 Noon US Open Men’s Doubles Championship WatchESPN
  4 p.m. US Open Women’s Championship ESPN / ESPN Deportes
Sun Sept 11 Noon US Open Women’s Doubles Championship WatchESPN
  3:30 p.m. US Open Men’s Championship Preview Special ESPN
  4 p.m. US Open Men’s Championship ESPN / ESPN Deportes

 

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On The Call: US Open / ESPN Conference Call with Programming’s Scott Guglielmino and Jamie Reynolds of Production

ESPN

(August 18, 2016) ESPN tennis executives Scott Guglielmino, senior vice president, programming, and Jamie Reynolds, vice president, production spoke with media Thursday to discuss the upcoming US Open, and the success and what was learned in last year’s first all-ESPN effort in New York.  Highlights of the call are followed by the full transcript.

 

Soundbites

On:  What impact on TV will the roof on Ashe have?

  • I will say from a broadcasting perspective, we have cameras being built this week as well as next week, and audio technicians down there, assessing what the house looks and feels like, what it sounds like under all conditions, either during the day or at night, under total darkness.  Once you fill it with 20,000 to 25,000 people, it will certainly shape the temperature range, what the wind currents might be. I think we’re all looking forward to what that house can project or optimize for us and how the nuances may affect the game or enhance the game.” – Reynolds

 

On:  Does digital usage negatively impact TV viewing?

  • Our view is and always has been that it is something that’s complementary to the overall audience. I certainly don’t expect – especially coming off of the year we had last year, ratings up on television as well as digital – I don’t expect a scenario whereby the digital piece is going to harm the TV numbers.” – Guglielmino

On:  What makes the US Open in New York special?

  • “I would say also, you put this event in New York, it’s still sports theater….Just the character and the tone of what you get out of New York City in prime time is a very different feel. I think that’s the hallmark of this event, the interactivity of the fans, the crowds, the texture of the celebrities that come through, an event that goes on well past 11:00 or midnight, that’s pretty good. It just has its own identity.” – Reynolds

 

  1. I’m wondering about what you learned from Wimbledon. I know there was some awkwardness with this broadcasters coaching, all the conflicts in tennis, and how you are looking at the Open with regards to what happened at Wimbledon?
    JAMIE REYNOLDS: When you reflect back on the Wimbledon situation, and John operating with the Raonic camp, I think when you look at the roster of talent that we have, you look at this sport in particular, the crossover and the passion of everybody is pretty strong on all fronts.  I would say to you I think we, ESPN, handled that identity of John’s duality as well as some of the other folks on our roster, including Patrick Mouratoglou, who spent some time with us, you look at Darren, Mary Joe Fernandez, her coaching responsibilities, as well as the other extended members of our family, I think we were open and very clear in our relationships with what we expected between their perspectives.I think in a sport, at a championship level, we framed it properly to give the viewer a chance to both appreciate the perspective and the insight that they can offer, but also openly acknowledge the fact that some of these folks are wearing multiple hats. And for the viewer how you assess that, how you might interpret their responses relative to that, either you like them or you think there may be a level of conflict.  At the end of the day from taking care of the viewership, framing the event, I think their perspectives are still very valuable.

    When you go back and look at it historically through a variety of other sport categories, it doesn’t matter whether it’s the van Gundys, the Grudens, even the Grieses, there are a great many relationships, family-wise, that have some sort of attachment in the sports community.  I think the viewership, the audience, can understand and at times respects it and some other times finds that it’s awkward or sideways. At the end of the day I still think they appreciate what that insight and perspective can offer.

    Q. A question about the roof. How much have you all tested it or know what the environment is going to be when it’s closed?
    REYNOLDS: I will say from a broadcasting perspective, we have cameras being built this week as well as next week, and audio technicians down there, assessing what the house looks and feels like, what it sounds like under all conditions, either during the day or at night, under total darkness.

    Once you fill it with 20,000 to 25,000 people, it will certainly shape the temperature range, what the wind currents might be. I think we’re all looking forward to what that house can project or optimize for us and how the nuances may affect the game or enhance the game.

    But I think everyone, including the USTA and the National Tennis Center, broadcasters alike, are looking forward to seeing how the event feels. Certainly it’s going to have a different experience relative to what we see in Australia and what we see at Wimbledon.  I don’t know when you watch or you hear an event at Centre Court at Wimbledon, you know you’re in a fully-enclosed environment. I don’t know that this stadium, this venue, will feel like that.

    Q. We don’t know because it hasn’t been full of 20,000 people.
    REYNOLDS: Yes.

    Q. Seems to me that it’s going to be quite loud when it’s full.
    REYNOLDS: That’s a fair point. When you close the garage doors around the upper perimeter, the roof is sealed and closed, what that does, what the sound does become in there, it’s going to be interesting. I think we’re all looking forward to seeing how it presents itself.

    Q. There’s really no way that you can know what it’s going to be until it happens?
    REYNOLDS: Yeah. Baited anticipation.

    Q. Another roof question. What do you think will be the biggest impact of the fact that now we do know, at least as far as the matches on Arthur Ashe, will more or less occur when they are scheduled to occur throughout the entire two weeks?
    SCOTT GUGLIELMINO: From a programming perspective, it’s going to make things quite a bit easier, both from a scheduling perspective with the tennis center and our colleagues there, but also from a programming perspective. So that’s going to be quite helpful to us.  I think also it helps, with a two-week event like this, us not get backed up and be able to continue to feed specifically the primary TV hours on ESPN, ESPN-2.  It’s certainly going to take a variable, although there will be other variables with other courts, it will take one big variable out for us from a programming perspective, which we’re looking forward to that.

    REYNOLDS: I think from a production side of the house, there’s a duality, there’s a double-edged sword here.  We love the opportunity to have those rain delays occasionally because it gave a 14-deep roster group of talent to jump on camera and get into our whip-around, talk through tennis news, updates, spark the daily debate, so to speak, and not miss any action until the rain delay came to a conclusion. So that was a win for us.  The other side of it, if it lasted too long, gosh, we have to figure out how to come up with three hours of fill. In this live world that we all live in and exist in right now, live social currency, it’s tough to go back and replay a match.

    We on the production side are challenged with saying, Oh, my gosh, we actually have content happening all the time guaranteed over the 130, 140-plus hours we do. We have to figure out how and when are we going to traffic a John McEnroe, Chrissie Evert, Pam Shriver, Mary Joe Fernandez debate, and figure out how we’re going to get enough screen time to explore those issues and stories.

    Q. Especially in the early rounds, in situations where it’s raining, we will go from having many courts playing to one playing. There will be some delays trying not to preemptively close the roof too much. How much have you talked through about how different it will be if you find yourself in a situation in the early rounds with only one match going on at one time, and then waiting for the roof to close and them to dry off the court?
    REYNOLDS: I think production-wise, we have figured that model out through a couple of years at Wimbledon. In terms of the traffic flow on a day, organizing our playlist, list of ingredients, what we want to have in our hip pocket and ready to convey if the situation arises, we’re pretty well-structured to accommodate that.  If this venue closes faster and gets back to play faster than the 22-and-a-half minutes it takes at the All England Club, we’ll be a little challenged about how we do justice to get those stories out, have people have a chance to run through them all.

    I think also having a chance, if we just get dedicated to a single match on an afternoon, that’s our playlist middle of the week, I think it actually gives us a chance to both dig into who those two folks are, but also still talk a little bit more broadly.  We’ll have announce teams around the grounds ready to go and weigh in on that single match, as well as get into a dialogue about what’s still available and what’s going on in the tennis community. I don’t know that we’re going to miss a beat in that situation.

    Q. Is there any fatigue from the Olympics? Is there an Olympic fatigue that you’re worried about? There’s been just a lot of tennis in general going into this international competition, the US Open.
    GUGLIELMINO: I’ll take the programming angle to that.  I think we’re not overly concerned with that. The US Open is obviously a marquee, world-class event. It is an annual fixture. Even though the Olympics did feature some tennis, we certainly believe that the US Open is distinct enough.

    I think certainly our coverage – Jamie alluded to it earlier with the roster of talent we have, the various platforms that will be on – we think it’s a unique story, unique event, what I call a short story over two weeks where it’s going to have its own storylines that develop. Jamie and his team are going to be there to tell that story and to bring it home to fans.  So from a programming perspective, we’re not concerned.

    REYNOLDS: I would say also, you put this event in New York, it’s still sports theater. Rio, the Olympics, the DelPo-Murray match was extraordinary and terrific theater in that realm. Just the character and the tone of what you get out of New York City in prime time is a very different feel. I think that’s the hallmark of this event, the interactivity of the fans, the crowds, the texture of the celebrities that come through, an event that goes on well past 11:00 or midnight, that’s pretty good. It just has its own identity. I think you carry that momentum.  I don’t know if there’s saturation of tennis. I still look at 12 nights, prime time windows, as that opportunity to feature great competition night after night.

    GUGLIELMINO: I love the notion of identity, Jamie. That’s a good point.

    Q. I was there last week and looked at the new grandstand. Can you talk about your coverage for the new grandstand. Will you have a commentary booth like you had at the old one? What is it like to shoot the new grandstand? And talking about Ashe, they’re planning to do the new Louis Armstrong in 2018. Do you work with the USTA in advance as far as technologically the things you might need for the new Armstrong? Do you have any input?
    REYNOLDS: On the first question, on the new grandstand, I’ll meet you for lunch on Monday and we’ll go and take a look at it the first time.  No, we have been a part of that process, what the grandstand will look like and feel like for the teams that will work up there. It’s great.  A little bit what comes to mind is like the bullring at Roland Garros. It has that larger, theatrical feel. It’s dynamic. It’s a terrific, terrific looking stage, performance stage, for tennis. It’s going to be exciting in there.  We do, indeed, have our announce teams over there, which is terrific.

    Looking forward to the Armstrong construction, where they’re going on that, we do indeed. We look at ourselves a little bit like general contractors in partnership with the USTA and the tennis center specifically to really figure out how we’re going to get fiber connectivity, can we build some recessed positions for cameras in advance, can we prewire for future protected camera positions at the venue.  It’s very much based on this 10-year relationship. We’re side-by-side on this. Coming in with what we think we ought to be prepared for three years, four years, five years from now, we don’t have to go in and retrofit the venue. Like the current grandstand, it will be a future-proof project.

    Q. Jamie, I spoke to you last year when you had the CoCo Vandeweghe interview live on court. Can we expect more live on-court interviews?
    REYNOLDS: It’s a fascinating follow-up. I think we all learned a lot through that exercise last year. It was a wake-up call for all of us, broadcaster, media, as well as the four majors, the ATP, the WTA, ITF, to kind of get their heads together and say, Let’s get this gang of seven, the folks that will steer the future of this sport, come together and start figuring out what can we do to offer more value from our performances, from our competitions, for the fan base.  It’s been a really good year in terms of opening that dialogue, kind of getting everybody in phase with one another to figure out how we’re going to grow the sport and stay current with other competitions, other sport categories around the globe.

    What happens at the US Open specifically, we’ve all come to the consensus that this is good for the sport, but we have to be aligned in how we do it at all the events.  There’s been a lot of conversations behind the scenes, so to speak, with all of those rights holders, trying to get our respective compasses oriented in the right direction. Those meetings will continue to take shape, as they have at the other majors. We’re going to continue to keep pushing the envelope with everyone.

    Right now to your specific question, are there plans to do it right now, I don’t know that I can commit to that answer yet.

    Q. Given how the digital viewing for the Olympics have hurt ratings for Rio, are you concerned at all with a similar impact for the Open?
    GUGLIELMINO: Well, let’s put it this way. From an ESPN perspective for the US Open, our view is and always has been that it is something that’s complementary to the overall audience. I certainly don’t expect, especially coming off of the year we had last year – ratings up on television as well as digital – I don’t expect a scenario whereby the digital piece is going to harm the TV numbers.

    DAVE NAGLE: Aside from the TV numbers that went up, the audience grew and got younger. The Watch number, it was four times than what we did the year before, and it was the most-watched tennis tournament ever at the time on WatchESPN.

    Q. Jamie, what are we going to see in some of the cool tech toys that end up at the tennis center for you guys? Specifically, are you bringing back, or is the USTA bringing back the freeD 360 replay system?
    REYNOLDS: The way to frame this one is this is the USTA’s coming out party. If you look at their new house, you look at the National Tennis Center, what Danny Zausner, his group, the USTA have done, we’ve adopted a mindset that this is their party, this is their coming out, where it’s all about the venue this year. The debut of the roof, the outer courts, it’s pretty spectacular.  So everything from our perspective, our capturing the event, both as host broadcaster and domestic carrier, is designed to feature that, right? It’s a pretty progressive venue now. We’re kind of excited about that.

 

What did we learn last year with the hardware we brought to the dance? SpiderCam is coming back. That’s part of the host broadcast feed. That’s embedded. We’re at a point now where that ought to be not a discreet asset but a shared asset for the world. Same thing with RailCam on Ashe. We kept that installed on the south wall.

Hoist, we have the same 70-foot crane that’s coming back. Rather than being on a footprint, we actually have it go onto the park’s ground just outside the venue shooting back. That’s on the southwest corner shooting back into the venue. It features a prominent presentation of the new grandstand stadium in that southwest corner of the venue. That’s kind of cool.

We’re embellishing the roster of toys, the Steadicams and (indiscernible) cameras that we’ll have around the grounds to be able to move around, take advantage, display as much of what this tennis facility has to offer. That’s kind of cool.

On the replay technology, the freeD group, we know they were sold to Intel. That deal ESPN did last year. We’ve committed to a three-year package with them. They’re in their second year of three with us. That 360 technology will a stay as a discreet asset for ESPN.

Q. The two new TV courts, does it change anything for you? How much have things evolved in terms of ESPN3, the streaming product growing exponentially over the years? Now with two more new TV courts, how much is that a factor beyond the linear from a production and operation standpoint?
GUGLIELMINO: From our perspective, obviously we’re looking to provide end-to-end coverage. With all the simultaneous courts happening, two things are striking. The first one is being able to provide live full coverage of another court. For consumers that want to get locked on to that court that perhaps isn’t on ESPN-1 or 2, there’s that aspect to it.

The other piece for Jamie, it’s in his world, that’s another court he can go to and we’re getting a feed from, which again it adds the complementary piece to the television side, but it also adds to the comprehensive coverage and the ability to kind of go to that court beyond just serving it up as a linear offering, if you will, to a fan that wants to park on it.

REYNOLDS: It’s a safe bet that as we get deeper, we were at 11 courts last year, up to 12 this year, the outer years we’ve made a commitment to continue to increase, at some point to get as many courts as possible off the venue and have them available for not just ESPN or E3, our clients, but also for the world. It’s valuable for the USTA to be able to market them internationally if they have the opportunity for a discreet feed. In the global expansion of the event, it’s attractive.

Our strategy right now is to continue to deliver to what we refer to as that seven linear feed style of cutting. It’s a traditional control room with a variety of camera complements. Seven linear courts is the standard operating procedure of production.

The outer courts that were four last year, five this year, where we feature the Hawk-Eye, TV robotics, is a good solution where we can guarantee multi-camera coverage but do it on a scale that is commensurate with action on those courts.

NAGLE: I think it’s safe to say at ESPN we don’t believe much in self-cannibalization, otherwise we never would have launched ESPN2 and everything that followed.

Q. A question about the press room cameras, for the press conferences. Can you go into that? It’s related to the on-court interviews.
REYNOLDS: I think we’ve realized the value. Certainly as a 24-hour network, we thrive on live content. What we’ve learned at a variety of other events is the more that we can take advantage of either a second screen opportunity, more value that can continue to enhance and broaden the experience of the event, the more valuable it is to the rights holder and the more valuable it is for us to service the fan in that live moment.

We went to the USTA a year ago with a concept that rather than just having a single or multi-camera coverage of the press room, letting the broadcasters record sound or go to that feed live when it was appropriate, what if we create a service that’s a multi-camera switched feed that now is a live signal that starts at 11:00 a.m. and runs till the last presser at the end of each day.

In that interactivity, our goal is to enhance the exchange press corps, as well as whoever is in the press room at the time. In a multi-camera coverage, we will have robotic cameras trained both on the press corps or those in the press room at the time, as well as the principals speaking up at the rostrum.  Our goal in that interactivity is to capture that dynamic, the enhancement of what folks find interesting to hear the firsthand account, both the questions, answers, responses, back and forth, get that dialogue, and offer it as a continuous service.  I think from the digital standpoint from ESPN, if that’s constantly on, that’s great. If we elect to go to a presser at the time live-live, it’s another delivery mechanism for that content.

Q. When you say ‘continuous service’ you mean for your feeds or publicly?
REYNOLDS: Both. For the ESPN audience, on the E3 channel, watch it on your desktop, wait for all the pressers to come through all day long, you’re welcome to do it. On the linear screen, watch what we’re doing with match coverage.

Q. Jamie, I saw you when they did the roof opening ceremony. They had a little bit of a glitch trying to reopen it after they closed it. Did you have any glitches last year during the tournament? Is there anything that the US Open presents as far as the heat, the shade, the wind, anything like that that makes it more challenging or different from the other majors?
REYNOLDS:  What did we learn last year? I think we learned last year what a hit replay technologies, freeD, 360 system, in that arena works very well. How it’s going to behave and react or act in a new lighting scheme, we’re hoping to get that tested out tonight and over the next couple of nights to make sure we can optimize that at nighttime. That will be interesting.

I think the shadowing will now be a new ingredient. While it’s a wide opening, you’re going to have angular lines crisscrossing the court now as the sun traverses across the sky, right? It’s going to look a little bit more like Australia than the rounded edges and sight lines that we’ve historically seen there. It’s going to feel different in different lighting during the course of the day.

The wind swirl, what actually happens, I think it’s going to be neutralized somewhat now because you don’t have the bowl effect that we’ve had with an open top before. That will change for the players as well as the fan base, what it actually swirls and feels like down at the bottom.

The last ingredient that I think was still an incredibly invaluable untapped resource is the access they’ve allowed us along the practice courts. I think being able to handle 8 to 10 hours a day from that practice court position has been an incredibly rich, coordinated effort that helps the fans feel connected to the event. Not just observers anymore; you’re actually in the moment. I think our goal is to try to enhance that experience from noon to 7:00, when the prime time window starts.

Q. Trump got quite a reaction there last year, people were all over him. When someone like that comes, do you know in advance? If Trump or Clinton came, can you get to someone like that?
REYNOLDS: It’s a coordinated effort. The USTA handles their guest list, their attendees. They have a group that marshals that and handles that. They make us aware of who may be in the house, what the plans are, whether they’re open to being a part of the telecast or whether they prefer to just come out and enjoy the tennis and that’s their night off.  It’s a dynamic dialogue that takes place on a daily basis. We typically know 24 hours in advance.

 

Related article:

Jamie Reynolds of ESPN on Approach Shots

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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

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(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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