2014/07/30

“OnThe Call” – ESPN Tennis Analysts Chris Evert, John McEnroe Talk Wimbledon

Chris-Evert

ESPN (June 17, 2014) ESPN tennis analysts Chrissie Evert and John McEnroe spoke with media about Wimbledon, which starts Monday, June 23, exclusive to ESPN, with live action on ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNEWS and ESPN3, plus weekend programming on ABC including same-day reairs of the Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Championships. Listen to the full media conference here.

 

ESPN Broadcast Schedule for Wimbledon

Topics on the call included:

  • Andy Murray’s recent selection of Amelie Mauresmo as coach.  McEnroe:  “(Like Murray at Wimbledon, Mauresmo) had an extreme amount of pressure on her at the French Open …She wasn’t able to be herself there.  She eventually later in her career was able to succeed and win a couple majors.  From that standpoint she’s got the understanding of what it takes emotionally and mentally to maybe get through and add that extra percent or two.”
  • Evert picks Serena to win her sixth Wimbledon, despite pressure:  “I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure on her because she did not do well in the last two Grand Slams, pretty much had bad losses.  I think all eyes are going to be on how she’s doing.  If she can get through the first week, that’s going to be the big thing.  Once she gets through the first week, gets the ball rolling, gets more comfortable on the grass, she’ll be unbeatable.  She has one thing no other woman player has, she has the serve.  She’s walking on the court 2-Love or 3-Love already.”
  • Wimbledon dark horses to watchMcEnroe:  “(T)wo guys that I think have made the biggest advances, who we’ve been waiting on the longest to potentially do some serious damage at a major event, and they’re starting to show that.  That would be Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov.  Two guys, if they had a little bit of luck, things fell their way, they could make a real run in this tournament.”  Evert:  “I think Bouchard has shown a lot of positives in the last six months as far as stepping up, not being afraid to play the top players, not to be afraid to play on a stadium court, dealing with the pressure so well.  Especially after the French, she almost beat Maria Sharapova.  She likes grass.  She likes to step in and take the ball early.  She has power.  I think she’s one to watch.”
  • McEnroe on the need to recruit the top U.S. athletes to play men’s tennis:  “If you look at Djokovic…you’re looking at the best athletes in their respective countries, like Nadal.  While we’ve had some fine athletes, I think our premiere athletes are going mainly to football and basketball…. If you ask me one thing, I’m sitting here at Randall’s Island where my tennis academy is.  My goal is to go into Harlem, the Bronx, the inner cities and give kids an opportunity, try to get enough corporate sponsorship to allow these kids an opportunity to play because the game itself remains too unaffordable for too many people.”
  • McEnroe on the advantage soccer has vs. tennis, with the World Cup:  “(World Cup) is a perfect example where soccer can flourish to some degree because for the next month there will be a lot of focus on that…When I came up, Davis Cup was the only way you could represent your country in an international competition.  It seems like watching this it’s a damn shame we don’t have something like this or haven’t tried something like this for our sport potentially.”
  • On meeting Brazilian soccer legend Pele.  Evert:  “He was my idol growing up….I loved his attitude.  He had such a sweetness about him, but he was still a killer out there.  I loved everything about him growing up.  I just thought he was a great role model as far as being an athlete both on and off the field.  He’s always been really special.  And I did meet him once and it was very special to me, too.”  McEnroe:  “He’s one of these guys that makes you feel good about everything.  He just has this smile….  The way he played, he was like the Roger Federer on a soccer field.  He was like the most beautiful guy that combined this joie de vivre, and played the way he played…He’s just a wonderful man.  He’s one of those guys that will say something nice about you before he expects you to say something nice about him.”

 

Q. I would like to hear from both of you on the topic of Andy Murray’s hiring of Mauresmo, what you think about that, and also Murray’s prospects heading into Wimbledon. 

EVERT:  Well, I mean, Mauresmo’s very qualified obviously.  Amélie, she’s been a good coach before.  I think she and Andy click well together.  I like the line he said, My mom, I’ve always had sort of the female influence around me concerning my tennis.  Women listen more, which is probably true.

 

But the great thing about Andy now is he still has that influence from Lendl.  I think there was nobody better for him at that time, a couple years ago, than Lendl.  What he’s done for his tennis, what he’s done for his fitness and his attitude on the court is incredible.  I think if he continues to carry on with Lendl’s influence and takes what Mauresmo has to offer, I think he’s in a pretty good place right now.

McENROE:  Initially when he hired Ivan, I was taken aback and surprised that he made as bold a move.  The more I thought about it, the more I thought that actually, for a variety of reasons, it would work.  It turned out it did work.  I must say when I was hearing the possibilities of who Andy was going to hire, I was sort of hoping he’d do something out of the ordinary or out of the box like he had done with Lendl.  Not the sort of I don’t want to say same old, same old, ‘retreads’ is not a fair word, but qualified coaches that had been around with a number of other players.  Definitely from that standpoint it really surprised me, however, that he picked her.  I’m not quite as convinced that it’s going to succeed in the way I thought it was with Ivan.

 

I do think that Chrissie was correct in saying that she’s had a fair amount of coaching experience.  I’m assuming the logistics on some level, if there’s rain delays, et cetera, I don’t know if that means, for example, Amélie Mauresmo would have access to the locker room, would that have to be done somewhere else, coaching before, probably not a whole lot is going to be done.

 

Clearly it’s a tricky time to walk into a new coaching job because Murray is defending his title.  It was announced just a few hours before the men’s final at the French.  I don’t know how long they knew before that’s what the plan was.  But it seems like the whole thing was orchestrated to a degree.  I don’t know to what degree the decision was made to wait two hours before the men’s final.  It certainly doesn’t give anyone a whole lot of time for the two to get a feel for each other when most if not all of the training would already be done leading up to Wimbledon.

 

Q. I’m wondering what you think she could bring to the table and would you ever have considered hiring a female coach when you were playing?

McENROE:  I wasn’t one for coaches, male or female.  It was surprising.  I was on the air trying to recall with Mary Carillo when we were doing the finals at the French, I couldn’t remember a time when a woman had been coaching a male.  I believe there was a brief period of time when Billie Jean may have coached Tim Mayotte, I believe.  I think there was one other occasion.  But it’s very rare.  You talk about Andy Murray’s mom.  As far as what she can bring to the table, I suppose there’s certain situations that she’s gone through similar to Andy and Ivan.  That’s part of why I think he hired Ivan, because Ivan having been in the position of having succeeded but not won slams yet at somewhat an advanced stage in tennis terms.  He had credibility because he had been there and knew what it felt like.

 

I know Mauresmo, there’s a similarity in the sense that she had an extreme amount of pressure on her at the French Open as opposed to Wimbledon, not nearly as much as Andy, but certainly more than most players experience.  She wasn’t able to be herself there.  She eventually later in her career was able to succeed and win a couple majors.  From that standpoint she’s got the understanding of what it takes emotionally and mentally to maybe get through and add that extra percent or two.

 

I can’t say that I would have thought about it at the time, although I sort of think there’s no reason why not having thought about it.  But at the time when I was playing, I can’t say that we were thinking along those lines.

 

Q. John, you said you would have liked to have played the best, speaking of Roger Federer at the Open and Nadal at the French.  In an imaginary match, if you were playing them, how would you break them down?  You also said you would want to get into their heads.  How would you do that? 

McENROE:  You’re talking about the most difficult propositions there is in tennis.  Did I say I wanted to play him on clay?  I sometimes put my foot in my mouth.  That may have been one of those occasions.  I thought Borg was tough to beat on clay, watching what he was able to accomplish, until I saw Rafa.  And Roger at Wimbledon or the Open would be an incredible challenge, as would Sampras at Wimbledon, particularly the older courts.  Part of the way to succeed is you have to figure out a way to believe in yourself ultimately.  This is a very mental game.  It comes down to sort of will and desire and belief.  Connors taught me this early in my career.  No matter how badly I thought I wanted it, it seemed like he wanted it more.

 

I think guys like Murray, Novak, even Rafa, Roger early, they had to become better because they saw how hungry the people in front of them were.  That’s sort of the ultimate test.  My game wouldn’t be that much different if I were to play them because you have to believe in your style of play, trying to take it to them, not allow players to relax.  Sort of the ultimate example of that was Pete, Boris Becker to some degree on the faster courts.  But Pete was the ultimate.  These guys get rhythm and want to wear you down.  You can’t allow that to happen.  You have to make it more of a match where every shot would count and feel like you’re going to do something as soon as you have an opportunity to do that.  That to me it’s the only hope you’d have against players of this nature, the greatest of the greats.

 

Q. In the spirit of the World Cup, you met Pele a good number of years ago.  How did that meeting compare with other encounters with celebrities? 

EVERT:  He was my idol growing up.  Don’t ask me why.  There are a lot of great, great athletes when I was growing up.  I just loved him.  I loved his attitude.  He had such a sweetness about him, but he was still a killer out there.  I loved everything about him growing up.  I just thought he was a great role model as far as being an athlete both on and off the field.  He’s always been really special.  And I did meet him once and it was very special to me, too.

 

Q. Apologies for bringing up a topic that’s been well-mined over the years.  On the men’s side, the second ranked American player as we head into Wimbledon is Steve Johnson at 68.  There’s one American male who is seeded.  I’m curious to get your thoughts on that.  Not that we can take hours to dissect this, but what you think needs to change or should change to perhaps address this seeming trend? 

McENROE:  Well, this conference call is only supposed to last an hour, so I’m not sure we have time to discuss that in this particular timeframe.  As an example, I’m watching, a lot of other people are watching some of the World Cup go on right now.  Soccer, slowly but surely is getting into the mindset of more Americans.  Obviously there are a lot of immigrants that have come in from other countries where soccer is a bigger game, as tennis is.

This is a perfect example where soccer can flourish to some degree because for the next month there will be a lot of focus on that.  We never have taken advantage of that.  When I came up, Davis Cup was the only way you could represent your country in an international competition.  It seems like watching this it’s a damn shame we don’t have something like this or haven’t tried something like this for our sport potentially.

 

It’s not going to be exactly the same format, but the basic idea being all the countries coming together like the World Cup.  That’s one thing that we haven’t done that I think could have helped us.  Clearly over the years the game has become, because of the technology and other reasons that we’ve talked about, more physical and athletic than it’s ever been.  Because of that you need to have better athletes.

 

If you look at Djokovic, it’s not like I haven’t said this or Chrissie hasn’t said this a bunch of times, you’re looking at the best athletes in their respective countries, like Nadal.  While we’ve had some fine athletes, I think our premiere athletes are going mainly to football and basketball.  Perhaps more and more of the younger ones are coming into soccer at least early on.  It remains to be seen if it becomes a longer-term thing.

 

If you ask me one thing, I’m sitting here at Randall’s Island where my tennis academy is.  My goal is to go into Harlem, the Bronx, the inner cities and give kids an opportunity, try to get enough corporate sponsorship to allow these kids an opportunity to play because the game itself remains too unaffordable for too many people.

 

Some of this is cyclical.  Some of it is we’ve done a poor job.  We got maybe spoiled is an accurate word.  We expected there would be more Connors, Pete Samprases, Agassis.  Because of the worldwide interest in sports, if you go back to the ’88 Olympics, when tennis became part of the Olympics again, more countries put more money and resources into it to allow more kids to play tennis, so more countries have more of an interest and they see the upside of it.  That same thing hasn’t happened for us in the U.S.

 

If you combine all those things.  I’m talking about the male game.  The playing field for women is better than any other sports.  I think that’s why you see two of the greatest athletes that ever played, Venus and Serena.  At worst, they have to be the top two to four.  They’ve done a pretty good job, have had amazing careers.  Then you see some of the younger players.  I can see at my academy, generally you see girls that look to tennis maybe before guys do.  We have to do a better job promoting it.  That’s about half the answer or a third.

EVERT:  I think the expense is one big thing.  I actually have come into contact with a lot of people, a lot of women, when they hear I was a tennis player, they’re like, I wanted to play tennis but it was too expensive for my family.  As a mother of three kids, when my kids were younger, they wanted to do the team sports.  It was more social, more engaging.  They went out and were on a team.  I think a lot of kids are cut out for team sports.  There aren’t a lot of kids cut out for the pressures of an individual sport at such a young age.  Obviously you have to train at a young age if you’re going to be a tennis player.  The fact that tennis probably isn’t even in the top 10 in America as far as popular sports, most watched sports on TV.

 

John brought up a great point.  Our best athletes are definitely not going into tennis.  They’re going into a lot of different sports.  It’s funny, the Serena, Venus influence as far as the African American influence is starting finally to show up in the women’s game.  Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, Taylor Townsend, Victoria Duval, that has started in the last couple years.  So it also depends on who is number one in your sport.  Our number one player in the women’s sport the last 10 years has been either Venus or Serena.  So I think that is a big thing.

I think you’re going to see tennis grow in America.

 

Q. Could you assess the women’s side at Wimbledon, particularly Maria Sharapova 10 years after her victory.  Can she do it again this year? 

EVERT:  I think it’s going to be an interesting tournament for Serena.  I think there’s going to be a lot of pressure on her because she did not do well in the last two Grand Slams, pretty much had bad losses.  I think all eyes are going to be on how she’s doing.  If she can get through the first week, that’s going to be the big thing.  Once she gets through the first week, gets the ball rolling, gets more comfortable on the grass, she’ll be unbeatable.

She has one thing no other woman player has, she has the serve.  She’s walking on the court 2-Love or 3-Love already.  If the serve is going, the grass is custom made for her.  It frees her up to go for the returns.  She’s athletic, she moves well, she stays down low on the grass.  She’s the best grass court player in my mind right now.

 

As far as Maria, if she can do a double, the French and Wimbledon, that would be the greatest year she’ll ever have in her life.  That would be an incredible feat for her.  Number one, is she going to have a letdown after winning the French?  Number two, remember all the slipping and sliding, the problems she had last year.  Footing is a big problem with her.  She’s so tall, she can’t get down low for the ball, she doesn’t have that secure footing.  The movement on the grass is going to be key for her, as well as her first serve.  It can go all over the place or she can serve aces.  Sharapova, there’s a question mark.  But as far as confidence level, you’ve got to give that to her.  But I’m still favoring Serena a little bit.  With Halep, Kvitova, Bouchard, ones who can do some damage also.

McENROE:  I pretty much agree with what Chrissie said.  She’s absolutely right.  Serena’s game is very much made for the grass.  Maria I never would have thought would have become arguably a better clay court player than any other surface.  I really respect the effort she’s put forth to become that good and be able to win the French twice, a second time before any other major.

 

I think what Chrissie said earlier about the footwork, the movement, in the beginning it’s going to be tougher for Maria to get through the first week.  If she does, she’ll be able to sort of feel more comfortable with her movement.

After that, it obviously becomes much more of a crapshoot.  The bigger hitters, Kvitova won it because she can do damage with one shot.  It becomes harder for players that rely on getting a lot of balls back.  It’s tougher to win a tournament like that.  Or if they have liabilities with their serve…  Certainly if Serena and Maria don’t do well, it’s going to be much more difficult to pick who it would be after that.  Is Azarenka still in?

EVERT:  Yeah, she’s come back.  This is her first week.

McENROE:  She hasn’t played much for a while, so that would be an X factor for her.  She got hurt last year.  She’ll be hesitant early on.  Obviously, when she got hurt, she was 2, 3 in the world.

EVERT:  I’d like to see Serena this time, because they were going to meet in the quarters at the French, I’d like to see them (Serena and Venus) on opposite ends of the draw.  That would make it much more interesting, too.

 

Q. If you had to pick one to make it through the first week, would you go with Serena or Maria? 

McENROE:  If I had to pick one, I’d pick Serena.

EVERT:  Yeah.

 

Q. What is it like to defend a home Grand Slam challenge?

McENROE:  First of all, there’s no one that’s been under more pressure to win a major event than Andy Murray.  The fact that he’s done it takes a lot of pressure off him.  That should be understood.  He did something that took 76 or 78 years to do so there’s definitely less pressure.  Having said that, anytime you taste what it feels like to win it once, you obviously want to win it again.  So there’s an element of pressure you put on yourself for starters because you sort of want to see what that feels like at least one more time.  From that standpoint he’s going to be feeling pressure.  Clearly now once people know he can do it, they’re going to think he should do it again.  It’s not like there’s not going to be pressure.  There is going to be pressure.  It’s not going to be as staggering as it was.  You throw in this new coaching thing, that makes it a little bit hard to get your groove quickly.  He only won one match in Queen’s.  He lost early.  So this is sort of an X factor.

 

Murray is very comfortable on the surface.  I’m assuming that they’re going to seed him No. 4.  I would be surprised if they don’t move him up.  He’s presently 5.  I think Stanislas Wawrinka is 3 or 4.  I think it would make sense.  He deserves it, to me, based on the fact he won it last year, his history on grass, that they should seed him 4 and separate these guys.  He would potentially have to go through three of these guys, which I don’t think makes sense for anyone.  Are the seedings being made tomorrow?

EVERT:  Yes.

McENROE:  I would hope for all concerned that they put Stan, who won the Australian, he’s not as comfortable on grass, he had a decent run at Queen’s, but it would be ludicrous to me if they didn’t put Murray 4.

Once he gets going, he’s going to be obviously one of the toughest guys to beat.  He’s tougher to beat in best-of-five, particular on grass because he has a sense of what to do there.  He has as good a shot as anyone to win it.

 

Q. Do you see Mauresmo coaching a top 10 player on the ATP, is that a big step for women’s tennis? 

EVERT:  I don’t think it matters for women’s tennis.  I think it says something for women’s coaching.  You’re talking about two different things.  Again, this isn’t going to affect the Tour at all.  It’s a positive sign for women in coaching.  It hasn’t been done very much, very rarely.  Maybe it opens the door to not only men, but the women don’t seem to have women coaches.  Maybe it opens the door to more women.  It’s really interesting because the big question at the French was, Will this inspire more top women to be coaches?  The fact of the matter is, we all have kids.  I don’t think Steffi Graf is going to ask Andre, Can I go on the Tour for 35 weeks and coach a player?  I don’t think that’s going to happen.  When you look at the top players, Steffi, Pam Shriver, Tracy, Mary Joe, Kim Clijsters, Lindsay, everybody’s got kids.  That’s our priority.  You’re not going to have full-time coaches as women as much as full-time coaches with men.

 

Q. You covered some of the favorites on the women’s side at Wimbledon.  I wanted your thoughts on who the longshots or surprises might be.  Specifically what are the chances you see for Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic, and down the line Daniela Hantuchova?

McENROE:  Wozniacki, I would put that’s not going to happen, as well as Hantuchova, even though they’re nice girls, young ladies.  Ivanovic has a remote chance.  She has some wins.  Way better chance than the other two as far as the girls.

 

As far as the guys, the four top guys are the obviously choices.  These aren’t longshots anymore.  These are the two guys that I think have made the biggest advances, who we’ve been waiting on the longest to potentially do some serious damage at a major event, and they’re starting to show that.  That would be Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov.  Two guys, if they had a little bit of luck, things fell their way, they could make a real run in this tournament.  Those would be the two guys I would pick.

EVERT:  I think on the women’s side, again, after Serena and Maria, there’s a little bit of a gap, a little bit of a question mark.  I think Bouchard has shown a lot of positives in the last six months as far as stepping up, not being afraid to play the top players, not to be afraid to play on a stadium court, dealing with the pressure so well.  Especially after the French, she almost beat Maria Sharapova.  She likes grass.  She likes to step in and take the ball early.  She has power.  I think she’s one to watch.

 

Kvitova, she started to play well at the French.  She lost weight.  She’s fitter.  I think having had that experience, she really enjoys playing on the grass.  She’s somewhat under the radar right now.  You could look at Sam Stosur, players that have all-around versatile games, that are good athletes.  I think grass favors the athleticism because you have to have good balance and know how to move smoothly on the grass.  I think those players.  And Halep, she’s a question mark.  Will she continue the momentum she had at the French?  Again, she’s a great athlete and can move well.  I think that’s very important on the grass, the court coverage.

 

Q. Chrissie, to you what does Sam Stosur have to do to have a good Wimbledon?  John, what is your take on Bernie Tomic?

EVERT:  She needs to believe in herself.  She needs to have that belief.  It’s not about her game.  She’s got a beautiful game.  She could do it all.  It’s just about her nerves.  I think what she needs to do is look back, look at the matches that she had leads, top players on the ropes, matches that she got nervous and lost.  You have to recognize your past before you move on to your future.  You got to figure it out.  Then she’s got to figure out, If I’m in this situation again, I’m going to react differently.  You have to talk yourself into reacting differently.  It’s all psychological with her.  She just needs to have more confidence in herself, in her game, just try to control those nerves a little better.

McENROE:  As far as Bernard, I haven’t seen him play since he underwent the surgeries.  I heard it was maybe one or both of the hips.  I’m not sure the extent.  Anytime you have surgery you’re worried, especially when you’re that young.  I’m not exactly sure what surgery he had on his hips.

Q. Was on both hips. 

McENROE:  I’m not sure exactly what they did.  But Bernard is unusual, obviously, in a number of ways.  But the main way, the way that’s interesting, is the way he plays.  He’s one of the few guys that I’ve seen where he makes guys that play him uncomfortable.  That’s what he had going for him.  He sort of takes people out of their games.  He gives you looks that you don’t expect.  He’s like a fastball pitcher that would suddenly go to an off-speed pitch.  Bowlers, cricket, taking everything off the ball, are spinning it.  He was very interesting to watch, I found.  There were always issues.  At times, how deep he was willing to dig, his fitness level.  He’s a big guy.  I saw a stat last year I think where he won a great deal of his service games.  He had one of the best records on the Tour as far as holding service games.  I thought that it was amazing because a lot of times it doesn’t look like he’s going more than 80% on his serve.  Maybe that’s why, he’s unpredictable.  At this stage I see a guy that clearly his best surface has always been grass, so he’s most comfortable.  He might start to find some confidence.  I notice he won a few matches in these tune-up events. I don’t know what his fitness level is like.  When you have to walk into best-of-five, it’s more mental than physical at Wimbledon than say the French.  He’d have a better shot.  I’d have to see him again, both on and off the court, what’s going on with his training, who he’s been coached by, all these other things that I’m not really sure of.  It’s going to be interesting to see if he’s going to be able to bounce back, have something serious happen.  I’m assuming his ranking has dropped down.

 

Q. Men’s and women’s winner and a dark horse in both? 

EVERT:  Serena, Djokovic.  Can Bouchard be a dark horse?  The men?  Oh, boy.  Go ahead, John, I have to think about the men.

McENROE:  I would pick the same women.  If Bouchard could be a dark horse, I would pick her as a dark horse.  I think she’s come a long way.  I like what I’m seeing.  I still think, especially on grass, that Serena, if she brings out her A game, is the best player without a doubt to win it.

EVERT:  I’ll pick Dimitrov for the guys.

McENROE:  I think as far as the men, this is like a really tough one.  If I had to pick one guy right now, I probably would pick Djokovic, even though I don’t think he’s as comfortable on grass as he is on hard courts.  My longshot pick, can I pick Federer as a longshot (laughter)?  He would be my longshot pick over Raonic or Dimitrov.

Roger is obviously amazing.  I still think he’s going to make a run in the majors.  I didn’t think he could go all the way and win one.  He just had another set of twins, for God’s sake.  Maybe it won’t be that easy.

EVERT:  Listen, he’s like the fourth favorite, though.  He could win Wimbledon.

McENROE:  That’s true.  But Dimitrov is probably the fifth favorite.

EVERT:  But what is his ranking?

McENROE:  He’s probably like 10 in the world now.

Q. He’s 13. 

McENROE:  I thought he was higher.  And Raonic is probably 9 or 10 in the world.  To a lot of people they would be longshots, so we’re sticking with it.  I’ll pick Raonic if you don’t want me to pick Federer.  He’s only won it, what, seven times (laughter).

 

Q. Chrissie, what are your thoughts on Martina Hingis coming back to play at Wimbledon as a wild card in the doubles tournament? 

EVERT:  John McEnroe can chime in.  He played with her and knows her better than I do.  He played with her in TeamTennis. I haven’t watched her play doubles.  I watched her play in TeamTennis a couple times.  She’s hitting the ball great.  She’s obviously winning a lot of doubles matches, so she’s still crafty, volleys really well, quick at the net.  I would have loved to have seen her play singles personally.  But I guess that’s not going to happen.

John, what do you think?

McENROE:  Certainly in doubles she could win the thing if she had the right partner.  I think she’s been playing with Lisicki.  I think they won at Key Biscayne.

EVERT:  She’s not playing with her at Wimbledon.

McENROE:  Who is she playing with?

EVERT:  Zvonareva.  If she had a great mixed partner, she’d have a great chance in the mixed, too.

McENROE:  Maybe it just shows you sometimes when it’s later than you like, you realize how much you love it and miss it.  I don’t know what she’s proving.  I think she could still play doubles.  She could lose first round, win the tournament.  Maybe she just likes to be around it.

 

Q.  John, do you see Dimitrov as a future superstar?  Can he break into the top four?  What do you like about him and where does he fit in?

McENROE:  I like a lot about him.  What I didn’t like about him was it didn’t seem he was dedicated enough compared to what the other top guys were doing.  Being around Sharapova I bet has helped him, maybe for obvious reasons, because he’s happier.  But the obvious ones were because she’s so dedicated.  I mean, I call her the Nadal of the women’s tour.  She plays every point like it’s her last point.  That has to have rubbed off on him.  Also Rasheed (Dimitrov’s coach) is known as a fitness guy.  He’s realized over the course of time if he wants to make a mark, he has to be fit.  He was cramping.  I saw him cramping in the second set of the French Open last year or the year before.  You can’t expect to be at the end of majors or winning them, there’s no way you can do that if you can’t last till the end of a best-of-a-five-set match.  I think one of the best matches he ever played was when he played Nadal at the Australian.  He looked like he could go the distance.  Looked like he had a shot at it.  He didn’t pull it off.  But it looks like he can at least go the distance now.  He lost first round in the French.  He hasn’t exactly knocked them dead in the majors.  He’s got a lot to prove.  He has a lot of upside.  Everyone has known that for a long time.  It takes longer to break through.  These guys are incredible.  You’re probably talking about the two greatest players that ever played, Nadal, Federer.  Djokovic is going up the all-time great rankings.  Murray has gotten himself better and better.  It’s extremely difficult to break into that.  He and Raonic are the two guys that I have seen who have done the most recently to make this breakthrough.

EVERT:  If I can say one thing.  The more I watch this game, I more I realize it’s getting to be so much about the team.  It’s getting to be so much about the influences that these players have.  They all have so much ability, natural ability.  When you look at Andy Murray with Lendl, that proves my point.  When I look at Dimitrov, he has Rasheed.  He’s got great credentials.  Like John said, he’s into the fitness part of it.  He’s got Maria as a girlfriend.  Like John says, that professionalism, that discipline has to be rubbing off.  She’s probably telling him things, too, giving him some advice.  I just think at the end of the day it really gives you a big edge if you have a great team around you.  I think he does.  I think that’s really improved his game.  It’s about the attitude and the confidence.

 

Q. John, I was asking you about your meeting with Pele.  What was that like for you and how did that compare to other great meetings?

McENROE:  Pele…I met a number of times.  He’s one of these guys that makes you feel good about everything.  He just has this smile.  Certainly, I don’t speak Portuguese obviously.  He didn’t speak English where it was easy to have a conversation.  It was just to be around his field was magical the way you could feel the beauty of this man.  The way he played, he was like the Roger Federer on a soccer field.  He was like the most beautiful guy that combined this joie de vivre, and played the way he played.  Brazil, it means so much for them obviously.  To have someone like that represent their country in a sport that they love so much, I mean, he’s like Wayne Gretzky in hockey.  He’s just a wonderful man.  He’s one of those guys that will say something nice about you before he expects you to say something nice about him.

Q. There’s another Brazilian like that, which is Guga. 

McENROE:  That’s so true.  Absolutely true.  This guy got totally gypped.  Every time I see the guy smile, I feel bad because he deserved so much better.

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ESPN Broadcast Schedule for Wimbledon

Wimbledontrophies-300x199

(June 16, 2014) ESPN has announced its broadcast schedule for Wimbledon:

 

Date Time (ET) Event Network  
Mon, June 23 – Sun, July 6 (not 6/29) 6:30 a.m. All TV Courts (up to nine), all day; Live@Wimbledon ESPN3 Live
   
Mon, June 23 – Thur, June 26 7 – 11:30 a.m. Early Round Action ESPN Live
  11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Early Round Action ESPNEWS Live
  2 – 3:30 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN2 (simulcast of ESPNEWS) Live
Fri, June 27 7 a.m. – 5 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN Live
Sat, June 28 7 – 8 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN Live
  8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Early Round Action ESPN Live
Sun, June 29 3 – 6 p.m. Highlights of Week One ABC Tape
Mon, June 30 7 – 11:30 a.m. Round of 16 ESPN Live
  8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Round of 16, Centre Court ESPN2 Live
  11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Round of 16 ESPNEWS Live
Tue, July 1 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Ladies’ Quarterfinals,  Centre Court ESPN2 Live
  8 – 11:30 a.m. Ladies’ Quarterfinals, Court One ESPN Live
  11:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. Ladies’ Quarterfinals, Court One ESPNEWS Live
Wed, July 2 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Gentlemen’s Quarterfinals, Centre Court ESPN Live
  8 a.m. – 4 p.m. Gentlemen’s Quarterfinals,Court One ESPN2 Live
Thur, July 3 7 – 8 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN Live
  8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Ladies’ Semifinals ESPN Live
Fri, July 4 7 – 8 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN Live
  8 a.m. – 2 p.m. Gentlemen’s Semifinals ESPN Live
Sat, July 5 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN Live
  9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Ladies’ Final ESPN Live
  3 – 6 p.m. Ladies’ Final ABC Tape
Sun, July 6 8 a.m. – 9 a.m. Breakfast at Wimbledon ESPN Live
  9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Gentlemen’s Final ESPN Live
  3 – 6 p.m. Gentlemen’s Final ABC Tape

nbpon

 

DIGITAL MEDIA, AT HOME AND ABROAD; INTERNATIONAL TV

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

  • Courtcast: A multi-tool application with live events via the ESPN3 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
  • Grass Stains: A daily notebook wrapping up the best and worst of the day
  • Digital Serve: Daily original videos previewing the next day
  • Baseline Buzz:  Greg Garber, Melissa Isaacson and Matt Wilansky weigh in on the hottest topics with a daily, written, roundtable discussion.

 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 The Word, 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 seventh year at Wimbledon, will provide multi-screen coverage with commentary of five matches in addition to the match airing on ESPN2 or ESPN through the second Tuesday of the tournament through DirecTV.  Fans will also receive interviews, features, press conferences and a studio wrap-around presence hosted by SportsCenter anchor Steve Weissman in London.  Match and studio analysts include former players Jeff Tarango, Chandra Rubin and Fred Stolle. In addition to the video offerings, DirecTV viewers can access results, schedules, draws and other interactive features through the remote control “Red Button.”  In total, ESPN will provide more than 350 hours of coverage through this unique application.

ESPN Classic is airing many great matches from Wimbledons past this month, including championships from 1984, 2004 and 2009 upon their 30th, 10th and 5th anniversary, respectively.  Today, Monday, June 16, through Friday, June 20, ESPN Classic is airing at least two matches at 11 a.m. and midnight (9 p.m. PT) each day.  The anniversary matches:

  • 1984 Gentlemen’s Final (McEnroe-Connors) on Wednesday, June 18 at 11 a.m. and 5:30 p.m.;
  • 2004 Gentlemen’s Final (Federer-Roddick) that day at 2:30 p.m.,
  • 2009 Gentlemen’s Final (Federer-Roddick) on Thursday, June 19 at 2 p.m.
  • 2004 Ladies’ Final (Sharapova-S.Williams) on Friday, June 20, at 11 a.m.

ESPN International – the home of tennis’ Grand Slam events in the Caribbean and in Spanish-speaking Latin America– will air over 90 hours of live Wimbledon coverage to over 40 million homes on its multiple television networks throughout the region.  In addition to those, ESPN+ in the Southern Cone will present 40 additional original live hours plus daily prime-time highlight programs.  Broadband’s ESPN Play — ESPN International’s multi-screen broadband service — will offer over 700 hours of live coverage throughout Latin American and the Caribbean with over 10 windows of simultaneous early round action available.  ESPN’s Spanish-language commentator team at Wimbledon is led by Luis Alfredo Alvarez and Edurado Varela calling matches with analysts Javier Frana and Jose Louis Clerc along with reporter Nicolas Pereira.

In addition, for the first time ESPN has exclusive media rights to Wimbledon in New Zealand, where fans will receive the same live action as aired in the U.S. (more than 130 hours), featuring the ESPN tennis team – Fowler, Drysdale, Evert, the McEnroes, etc.  Complementing the television coverage, ESPN3.com, ESPN’s multi-screen broadband service in New Zealand will offer over 700 live hours – every match played on a televised court available to broadband subscribers.

Highlights

  • The first four days of the tournament, ESPN will begin at 7 a.m. ET for daylong coverage that transitions to ESPNEWS at 11:30 a.m., with ESPN2 simulcasting from 2 – 3:30 p.m.  On Friday, June 27, ESPN will have all the action, and also on Saturday, June 28, beginning with Breakfast at Wimbledon from 7-8 a.m.
  • “Cross Court Coverage” will return the first three days of the second week, with ESPN2 focused on Centre Court all day while fans will enjoy a “grounds pass” with matches from Court One and elsewhere on ESPN (transitioning to ESPNEWS at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, June 30, and Tuesday, July 1).
  • Starting Thursday, July 3, all the action is on ESPN, beginning each day with Breakfast at Wimbledon hosted by Hannah Storm.
  • On the “middle Sunday,” June 29, a scheduled day off as is Wimbledon tradition, 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 6 and 7 at 3 p.m.
  • ESPN3 has increased its multi-screen offering to 1,000 hours – all available TV courts (up to nine) presented from first ball to last ball each day, with action available on demand afterwards.  Also, ESPN3 will add AELTC’s daily Live@Wimbledon. For the first time, Wimbledon.com will host the ESPN3 video offerings, greatly increasing its reach.
  • WatchESPN will deliver all ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPNEWS programming, accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the award-winning WatchESPN app, and streamed on televisions through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV to more than 92 million households nationwide via an affiliated video or internet provider.
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“On The Call” – ESPN Tennis Analysts Chris Evert, Patrick McEnroe Talk French Open

Chris Evert

Chris Evert

(May 21, 2014) ESPN tennis analysts Chris Evert and Patrick McEnroe spoke with media about the French Open, which starts Sunday, May 25, on ESPN2 and ESPN3. Here are some of the topics discussed on the conference call. To listen to the conference call in full click here.

Topics on the call included:

  • McEnroe on top men fending off rising players:  “(This year) they’ve been threatened a lot more often… (the younger players are) knocking at the door, but they haven’t broken through yet in the big occasions, except for Stan…they’re closing the gap but they still got a ways to go.”
  • Evert on heavy favorite Serena Williams’ improved play on clay:  “She’s learned to play on the clay a lot better from (her coach) Patrick (Mouratoglou).  She’s improved her defense skills.  She’s always had the offense skills.  She’s more fit.  She’s moving better.  She is patient with herself.  She doesn’t have to go for the winner on the fourth shot.  She can wait eight or nine shots and go for the opening.  She’s more intelligent and thinking more clearly on the clay than she ever has.”
  • McEnroe added:  “I never thought I’d say this.  I think clay might actually be Serena’s best surface now.  As great as she is on every other surface, obviously in her career she’s certainly been better on the faster courts, but it’s almost like she’s less susceptible to upset on clay now because she’s so consistent, steady.”
  • Evert is impressed by the recent play of 2008 French Open champ Ana Ivanovic, ranked No. 12 (but No. 8 in 2014-to-date standings):  “I’m so impressed with how she’s playing….She seems to have gotten her serve together.  Her serve is winning some free points.  She’s really improved that.  The backhand has improved.  The confidence.  She’s a big hitter…she could be top four if she continues her run.”
  • Asked for players outside the top 20 who could reach the semis:  Evert–  Madison Keys and no male.  McEnroe–  Caroline Garcia; Nicolas Almagro, Roberto Batista Agut or Dominic Thiem.
  • Evert on why Americans struggle on clay:  “The players that learned to play tennis on clay, myself and Martina Navratilova, Martina Hingis, Federer, Djokovic, I mean, Nadal, a lot of the players started on clay and excelled on clay at a young age.  And from there, branched out, made some adjustments and learned how to play on a faster court.  I think that’s easier to do than the other way around where you’re primarily a power player.  That’s why it was tough for like a Pete Sampras to win the French.”
  • McEnroe on what it takes to succeed on clay:  “I think obviously movement is key.  What I like to call shot tolerance, which is understanding what shot to hit at the right time.  Clay just forces you to make better decisions more often.  Quite honestly, you need to hit more balls into the court to win points….The clay teaches you itself how to play and how to construct points.  As Chrissie said, the more you play on it, and the earlier you play on it, the more you can develop those skills. “
  • McEnroe on which American athletes he would have loved to see play tennis:  “It’s funny, because when people say that, they say, ‘Imagine if Michael Jordan had taken up tennis!’  Well, Michael is a little bit too tall….Some would say LeBron James.  Actually he’s too big.  I would take somebody who was a great point guard, somebody like Dwyane Wade.  Who is the guy from Seattle, Richard Sherman, like a defensive back, extremely mobile.”

 

Q. My question is junior tennis related, Chrissie.  What significance do you think there is for a junior in winning or competing in a junior slam?  To what extent does this herald success in the future?  To what extent is it a crapshoot?  What are the pressures that might come with that, that either make a junior stronger or kind of freak them out? 

EVERT:  I think just from my experience, I didn’t play any of the junior slams because I was already in the regular slams.  But for me, winning national tournaments in America was huge because winning gets to be a habit.  Once you have that experience of beating girls your own age, which that’s where the pressure is to me.  My pressure was beating Maria Redondo and Patti Hogan, all the top players in the 18 Nationals, then going on and playing older women who had all the pressure and I had no pressure.  It was an easier transition.  I think it helps tremendously to be able to be No. 1 in your age division or to win national championships.  To win a junior Grand Slam, I think it’s tremendous.  Now, in saying that, we didn’t have the press back in those days.  I think there’s a lot more intensity and limelight if you win, a lot more expectations from the press and the public nowadays.  That component is much more intense.  I could quietly go on into the women’s and start beating the top women.

 

Q. It looks like there’s a changing of the guard slowly in men’s and women’s tennis.  Wawrinka winning the Australian, guys like Nishikori and Dimitrov starting to live up to some potential, but the old guys aren’t giving up.  Same could be said with Serena.  Could you talk about that. 

McENROE:  Well, I think there’s definitely some signs that the outsiders, the contenders, are more than just pretenders at this point.  That being said, if you go down the list of who has won not only the majors, but the Masters events, at least on the men’s side, it’s pretty much the same, the same two guys.  Federer has had a darn good first half of the year as well.  But Nadal and Djokovic are the two players to beat clearly.

 

That being said, even if you look at their results this year on the clay, they’ve been threatened a lot more often.  Obviously they’ve still been able to win.  Nadal, at least for him, has had a relatively unsuccessful clay court season only winning one big event, getting to the finals of another.  If you look at their results match in, match out, they’re certainly getting threatened a lot more.

 

Guys like you said, Wawrinka, Nishikori, Ferrer beating Nadal, Almagro beat Nadal, Berdych, players like that are making a little more noise.  Dimitrov.  Raonic had a great tournament last week.  Let’s put it this way:  they’re knocking at the door but they haven’t broken through yet in the big occasions, except for Stan.  I think in a nutshell certainly the other players on the men’s side have to feel like they’re closing the gap but they still got a ways to go.

EVERT:  I agree.  I think there’s such a tremendous pool of talent when I look on the men’s side.  The way that Andy Murray played last week, the way that Raonic played last week, Nishikori all year, Dimitrov, the way he’s come on, I think it’s incredible.  But I agree with Patrick.  I think when you look at the top two, Nadal and Djokovic, they’re not letting anybody in.  They’re not opening the door yet.  But in two years’ time I think it’s going to be a different complexion.

 

I look at the women and I see the same thing.  I see Serena dominating.  She’s still dominating.  She gets injured, a few losses, but still the dominant player.  But you have a rich pool between Li Na, Halep, Maria Sharapova, Ivanovic, Sloane is in a little bit of a slump right now.  You can say the same.  There’s the top two in the men and the top two in the women that are fending everybody off so far.

 

Q. Patrick, you mentioned Nadal, that he didn’t have a successful clay season.  Usually he wins three of these events.  Now he’s not the overall favorite going into the French that he usually is.  Why do you think that is?  I’m sure it’s a minor thing, but what is different this spring with him? 

McENROE:  I just think he put so much energy into what he did last year, physical, maybe more importantly mental energy, from the time he came back when he obviously exceeded everybody’s expectations with how dominant he was not only on clay, which didn’t surprise a lot of us, but on hard courts.  Through the US Open, he was just unbelievable.  He was invincible.  Then he had what I think was a fairly natural letdown at the end of last year.  I think quite frankly it’s carried into this year a little bit.  He was playing awfully well in Australia before he lost in the final.  So that was sort of another step slightly back because it obviously put him off the practice courts for probably a solid month.  I think he’s trying to find his sea legs a little bit.  He’s still the favorite to win the French, but it’s closer than it’s ever been between him and Djokovic.  Djokovic has gotten him multiple times since last year’s US Open final.  He’s put himself into really good form.  I think one of the important things for Nadal in Rome was he won a couple of matches back-to-back where he was pushed to the limit physically.  I think that gives him a lot of confidence.  He’s never been the kind of player that can just play a couple of matches and put it on autopilot.  He needs to play a lot, win a lot.  I think he’s been able to do that over the last month still suffering some losses, but he’s still the favorite at the French Open.

EVERT:  I also think that he did such a great job in tweaking his game a little bit and hitting flatter and hitting harder and standing closer to the baseline when he wanted to improve his hard court and grass court game.  I think that is probably not as effective as three or four years ago when he was really hitting with more trajectory.  I think it was coming over the net a little bit higher with some more spin, keeping the players back further.  I think flattening out his shots might have something to do with it.

 

I also think, after watching Djokovic, a couple of the players win a set from him, I think the strategy is different against Nadal.  I think they’re starting to hit shorter angles.  When I say that, Djokovic can really hit that backhand cross-court right into the service line.  His forehand also.  They’re getting him off the court.  So I just think the strategy maybe with these players, they’re starting to think a little bit more about how they can get him off the baseline, and that might have something to do with it, too.

 

Q. I wanted to ask about Serena and Nadal and the expectations placed on them.  Serena has said she’s not feeling as much pressure to defend her title, isn’t placing as much pressure on herself.  Nadal not being the favorite as much, does that help or hurt him?  The mental side for both players. 

EVERT:  I can talk about Serena a little bit.  I think she’s peaked pretty well for the French Open.  I think after the last two years of her playing more tennis than she’s ever played, I think she came into this year exhausted.  I think her priorities really are the Grand Slams this year.  I think if she loses in these other tournaments, she shrugs it’s off pretty well.  The French seems to be opening up for her.  She has an apartment there.  She lives there.  She practices a lot there.  Patrick (Mouratoglou), her coach, is French.  She’s had good success there.  As long as she’s fit, if she’s healthy, motivated, she’s the one to beat.  So far, you know, I very rarely see a Serena Williams that’s not motivated.  I think this tournament will motivate her.  If she’s healthy and fit, she’s got it under control.  She’s learned to play on the clay a lot better from Patrick.  She’s improved her defense skills.  She’s always had the offense skills.  She’s more fit.  She’s moving better.  She is patient with herself.  She doesn’t have to go for the winner on the fourth shot.  She can wait eight or nine shots and go for the opening.  She’s more intelligent and thinking more clearly on the clay than she ever has.  I don’t think she will feel the pressure, I really don’t.  She’s played enough tennis.  She knows what her place in history is now.  She’s gunning for those Grand Slam titles.

McENROE:  I would just follow up with that and say I never thought I’d say this.  I think clay might actually be Serena’s best surface now.  As great as she is on every other surface, obviously in her career she’s certainly been better on the faster courts, but it’s almost like she’s less susceptible to upset on clay now because she’s so consistent, steady.  Her mindset is so good, I think she revels with the pressure, especially at the big tournaments.  She motivates herself for that.  I almost think she’s less susceptible to someone like Lisicki, who go hot at Wimbledon, who out-hit her, I don’t think that can happen to her on clay.  Earlier in her career she was more inconsistent.  She loves the clay.  It’s been a huge part of her motivation the last couple years.

 

As for the guys, the top men, they seem oblivious to pressure.  I don’t think that’s a factor for either Nadal or Djokovic or even Federer for that matter, when he was in his prime, and I think he’s playing awfully well.  I think it’s who plays better on the day between these guys.  It will be interesting how the draw comes out for the men.  Federer has given Djokovic more trouble, at least this year, than Nadal has.  It will be interesting to see how that shakes out.  I think that will be pretty important on the men’s side, who ends up in which quarter, where Wawrinka is going to be the 3 seed.  That could be pretty interesting to see how that plays out.

EVERT:  Don’t you think, Patrick, also that it’s tougher to be on the defensive end on a clay court rather than on a hard court?  I feel like on a hard court you can neutralize the ball a lot better and get back into playing aggressive tennis.  Serena, the first strike of the ball she gets you moving.  It’s tougher for the opponent to translate that type of tennis into more aggressive tennis.

McENROE:  Yeah.

EVERT:  Let me tell you, this clay is faster, the balls are faster, the racquets are faster, the strings are faster.  This surface is not for the faint of heart anymore, like I’m going to stay back at the baseline and get a lot of balls back, like 40 years ago.

McENROE:  You got to play offensive, controlled baseline tennis.  That’s the best clay court strategy now.

 

Q. Patrick, what is your take on the 16-year-old out of Maryland, Francis Tiafoe?

McENROE:  My take is high on him.  I think he’s the real deal.  I saw him play out in California a month ago at the Easter Bowl.  First time I got to see him play competitively.  He’s got the athleticism, the physique.  What I really liked about him is I think he’s got a great tennis IQ.  He understands the game.  He understands how to play.  He’s obviously got incredible joy for tennis, which is amazing, which is so great to see.  He loves to play.  He loves to be out on the court.  He’s got a huge smile on his face when he’s walking around.  Seems to me he’s really in his element when he’s around tennis, playing tennis.  That’s not something you can teach.  That’s great to see.  He obviously has a great team around him over there in College Park.  They’ve done a great job with him.

He’s young obviously.  We have a good group, meaning the Americans, kids right at that age at 16.  Actually quite a few of them right now are playing in a futures in Spain.  We have a group of players and coaches over there.

But I think Francis, he’s definitely got a huge upside.  Again, he’s only 16.  When we talk about the question, I always get, What’s wrong with American tennis?  We talk about that often.  One of the things we often say is, We need to get better athletes playing tennis.  Guess what, we’ve got a better athlete playing better tennis.  This guy is a phenomenal athlete.  A lot has to happen for him to get all the way where we think he can go, a lot of steps in the process.  But he certainly to me appears to be on the right track.

 

Q. You don’t have to answer this if you don’t want to, Chrissie.  Rory McIlroy decided that he planned on not following through with the marriage (to Caroline Wozniacki). 

EVERT:  It doesn’t surprise me.  I don’t even know them.  I look back at Jimmy and I.  To look at two players that are in the prime of their career and are striving to be No. 1, don’t see each other.  I mean, I was married in my 20s to my tennis.  That was the only way I could put all my emotions and energies into that goal.

I was in awe that it worked as long as it did.  I can’t believe it.  They must be just different kind of people.  I understand 100%, you’re married to your career.  You’re using your emotions.  You’re using the mental capacity that you have.  You’re putting everything into it.  That’s what it takes to be the best.

 

Q. Chrissie, you had mentioned Ana Ivanovic earlier.  She’s been playing better this year, a little more consistent, on the brink of the top 10 for the first time in five years.  Realistically, do you think she can make an assault at the top few spots and win another Grand Slam?

EVERT:  I’m so impressed with how she’s playing.  I’ve been watching her the last few weeks.  She seems to have gotten her serve together.  Her serve is winning some free points.  She’s really improved that.  The backhand has improved.  The confidence.  She’s a big hitter.

 

You know, when I look at the top four now — Serena, Li Na, Radwanska, Halep — she could be top four if she continues her run.  She won a set from Serena.  She beat her at the Australian.  She’s beating some pretty good players.  I like her attitude out there.  You can tell she wants it.  As far as winning a Grand Slam, I don’t know.  Anything’s possible.  I think realistically to be top five would be a better goal for her right now.

 

Q. 2008, what do you remember about the kind of player she was then? 

EVERT:  Who did she beat?  I don’t remember her beating anybody.  I don’t mean to say that negatively, but I don’t think Serena, Venus, Clijsters, Henin.  It wasn’t a strong year, period, right?

MODERATOR:  She beat Safina in the final, Jankovic to get there, and before that Schnyder.

EVERT:  Those players aren’t top-quality players, but they weren’t Serena, Venus, Clijsters, Henin.  She took advantage of it and played some good tennis.  But she’s a much better player now, much better player now.  She’s got much more variety to her game.  She’s coming in and volleying.  She’s confident.  Her serve is better.

She has a Steffi Graf forehand.  Steffi would just jump beside that ball and wallop it.  I see almost the same type of stroke where she can just go inside-out, down the line, cross-court, and make them all the time.  Her backhand has also improved.  She’s really pumped up.  She wants it.  Her game has seemed to come together at the right time.  We’ll see what happens at the French.  But it seems to have really come together.  Whether that’s the new coach, for whatever reason I love her story.  She won it, she took a dive, but she kept her nose to the grindstone, tried to keep digging herself out of that hole, and slowly but surely she has now.

 

Q. Chris, Halep, what is her strength and weakness?  What do you see her doing in Paris?  Also, you were always known as a great champion with court sense, the ability to read the court.  Who has that now among the men and women? 

EVERT:  Well, let’s talk about Halep.  She is a tremendous athlete.  Her court coverage.  First of all, she doesn’t miss anything.  She’s one of the more consistent players.  She covers the court great.  She, you know, is not intimidated by any player or by pressure whatsoever.  So she’s very composed and mature out there.  She can transition from defense to offense, you know, really, really well.  But I think on the clay, that’s what you need to do.  You need to move well and you need to be consistent, yet she still hits a big ball.  You got to really earn the point against her.  She doesn’t play like Serena Williams where she’s going to hit you off the court.  You’ve got to work hard.  As far as court sense, that’s a good question.  You know, when I look at somebody like a Radwanska, I think she’s got good court sense.  She’s obviously very creative and can think ahead two or three shots, has that variety.  Help me, Patrick, with this.

McENROE:  I mean, nobody has better court sense than the players at the top of the game.  To me, I think sometimes the question – and I hear what you’re saying, Chrissie – we immediately go to the people that don’t have power like Radwanska.  She’s got great court sense, but she has no power basically.  She has to.

Djokovic has unbelievable court sense.  So does Federer.  So does Serena.  I think that’s where Serena really has improved, is her ability to open up the court, see the court.  I think the best players have the best court sense and the best ability to open up the court, not just the player that doesn’t have the power.

EVERT:  You’re right.  I was trying to think of players that had something special, like Martina Hingis had a special gift there.  But you’re right.  In order to be a top player, you have to have good court sense, you have to know how to open up the court.  Patrick is right on that.

 

Q. If both of you had to pick a player outside the top 20 to get to the semis, who would you say? (men and women)

McENROE:  Well, Sloane Stephens is in the top 20 still, so I got to think about it for a second.  What about Bouchard?  Is she outside of the top 20?

EVERT:  No.  Flipkens made a good run at Wimbledon last year.  She’s 22.

McENROE:  I’ll tell you who I like is Caroline Garcia.  The French players traditionally on the women’s side haven’t always played their best in front of their home crowd, but I really like her athleticism and her game.  She played great in the Fed Cup beating the U.S., so I got to see her there.  She was really, really good.  I think she’s got the kind of game and athleticism to play well on clay.

EVERT:  Where is Madison?

McENROE:  Madison is around 40 or so.

EVERT:  I’d give Madison a shot.  I’d give her a shot.

McENROE:  A guy at the moment who is outside the top 20 in the men is Almagro, who obviously is good on clay, beaten Nadal.  He has some injury issues.  Bautista Agut is a Spanish guy, outsider.  On the men, it’s pretty unlikely.  To me, Dimitrov in my mind is a little bit of an outsider.  He’s a guy who I think could make a big run.  I was surprised that Nadal beat him as easily as he did in Rome.  I thought Dimitrov was going to give him a big match.

EVERT:  What about Cilic?

McENROE:  No, I’m not going with that.  Not on clay in best-of-five.  I’ll tell you who the guy is, Thiem, the young Austrian kid.  Steve Johnson had a couple match points against him yesterday in Nice.  I think he’s still 19, but he has some major upside.  Might be early for him to make that kind of a run at a major, but look out for him.

EVERT:  I think my reluctance is I can’t see anybody out of the top 20 reaching the final.  I think the top 20 is so tough and so loaded that I can’t see anybody there.

 

Q. It’s no secret that the Americans consistently struggle on clay.  Do you think it’s a matter of improving strategy, mentality, mechanics or all of the above? 

EVERT:  Patrick, I know you have a lot to say on that, so mine will be short.  As in past history, most Americans have been brought up on the hard courts.  Most of the Europeans, especially the Spanish players, have been brought up on the red clay.  I think you’re brought up on what your national championship is.  US Open is hard court, and that’s probably why American players dominate.  Most of them coming from California, it was all hard courts.  I know now every tennis academy, especially the USTA, they’re putting an emphasis on playing on clay.  I grew up on clay, that’s why I had such good footwork.  It’s all about formulating footwork, having a little more strategy.  It’s not as much about power.  But the game has turned into so much power, you need a lot more ingredients on clay than power.  Go ahead, Patrick.

McENROE:  I think obviously movement is key.  What I like to call shot tolerance, which is understanding what shot to hit at the right time.  Clay just forces you to make better decisions more often.  Quite honestly, you need to hit more balls into the court to win points.  That’s just the way it is.  Obviously that’s become the way it is on every surface.  So when we talk the USTA building a new facility in Florida in a couple years’ time, almost half the courts are going to be clay to help our kids and to help our juniors play on it as young as possible.  The clay teaches you itself how to play and how to construct points.  As Chrissie said, the more you play on it, and the earlier you play on it, the more you can develop those skills.  We’ve got clay at each of our three centers for the USTA now.  The kids are spending a lot more time.  Once you do that, it’s a mindset for our young pros to go out there and be willing to do what it takes to work hard for each point you’ve got to win.

EVERT:  It’s interesting when you look at the clay court players, the players that learned to play tennis on clay, myself and Martina Navratilova, Martina Hingis, Federer, Djokovic, I mean, Nadal, a lot of the players started on clay and excelled on clay at a young age.  And from there, branched out, made some adjustments and learned how to play on a faster court.  I think that’s easier to do than the other way around where you’re primarily a power player.  That’s why it was tough for like a Pete Sampras to win the French.  Other players, when they come on, they’re just big power players, it’s harder to learn how to play if you’re a ball-striker, to play on the clay.

I’m a firm believer, and I don’t know why it hasn’t happened earlier than it did, to start more kids on clay.

 

Q. Patrick, obviously Andy Murray has never won a tournament on clay.  What do you make of his chances going in, especially without a coach?  There’s a discussion about (your brother) John being his coach. 

McENROE:  I know they have a very good relationship.  I think John in the right situation could be a great coach.  The question is, Is he going to be willing to spend the necessary time it would take depending on what Andy is looking for?

 

Andy has a solid team around him.  Of course, Danny who has been with him forever, like his full-time coach or assistant coach when Lendl came in, et cetera.  Andy has a great team around him.  I don’t expect him to be a real threat to win the French at all.  But I think he’ll want to play well there, as he did in Rome.

 

The best part of his year obviously is the grass, defending his Wimbledon title, then the summer on the hard courts.  I think a good result for him would be to make the second week, but I think he’s vulnerable to a lot more players on clay than he is on any other surface.

 

As far as where his coaching ends up, that’s the $64,000 question.  Sounds like from what I’ve heard him say, he’s looking for someone that’s going to be with him for quite some time and be a long-term solution, not do something quick as a part-time Band-Aid.

EVERT:  In one sentence, that was the best clay court match I’ve ever seen Andy Murray play.  I was so impressed.  If he keeps that up, he could be a semifinalist for sure.

 

Q. On the face of it, there wouldn’t seem to be any particular reason why he couldn’t win on the clay, other than the fact that Nadal tends to win so many of them. 

McENROE:  He doesn’t generate as much firepower off both wings.  There are reasons why he’s not as good on clay other than Nadal and Djokovic.  His game is not as suited for clay.  It’s more suited for grass with his slice, his ability to counter-punch.  A ball that drops in the middle of the court to his backhand side, he doesn’t do as much damage with that shot as Djokovic and Nadal.  Not many people do.  He doesn’t have what I call easy power, Murray, which you need on clay more so than other surfaces.  On the other surfaces, he can use the speed of the court to help his game.  It helps him a lot more than other players.

EVERT:  His ball being so flat, it doesn’t keep anybody in the backcourt.  It doesn’t really hurt anybody.

Patrick, what is the furthest he’s gotten?

McENROE:  Semis of the French.  He can play on it, but when you compare him to the other guys, and surprisingly he’s never won a title on clay, which I think if he wanted to, he could play some small tournaments and win them, but he hasn’t gone that route.

 

Q. Do you think he just needs to keep his confidence high ahead of Wimbledon and the U.S. and he shouldn’t be targeting trying to win it?

McENROE:  I think he’s going to absolutely use the French as a way to get him going and to get his fitness up and get his back right and get his confidence going for Wimbledon.  I mean, obviously the pressure’s off in some way at Wimbledon.  But I’m sure walking out at 1 p.m. precisely on that first day will be pretty emotional for him at Wimbledon, and for the crowd.  So there will be a lot more expectations on him.  He’ll want to really be primed and peaked for Wimbledon.

EVERT:  Patrick, when you’re talking about getting past the first week, if he gets past the first week, I think he’s going to take that tournament very seriously.

McENROE:  There’s no doubt he’ll take it seriously.  There’s a lot more guys I think match up very well against him on clay than on grass.

 

Q. Patrick, in the vein of long-term wishing better athletes in the U.S. would choose tennis, would you toss out names of American athletes that every sportsfan might know that kind of think might have made an awesome tennis player had they chosen tennis?

McENROE:  It’s funny, because when people say that, they say, Imagine if Michael Jordan had taken up tennis.  Well, Michael is a little bit too tall.  We have 6’7″, 6’8″ players.  Some would say LeBron James.  Actually he’s too big.  I would take somebody who was a great point guard, somebody like Dwyane Wade.  Who is the guy from Seattle, Richard Sherman, like a defensive back, extremely mobile.  They have some height.

 

To me the ideal height for a tennis player, a man anyway, is about 6’1″ to 6’3″.  So you take someone like Andrew McCutchen, the baseball player, guys that are there kind of size that have that kind of agility and mobility.

 

The first thing you have to remember, people overlook this, it doesn’t matter how fast you can run or how high you can jump if you actually can’t time the ball.  The first thing you need to do is get someone who can actually time the ball and hit it on the center of the racquet when they’re very young.  That’s number one.  Once you get that, obviously you’d like to see somebody that can move.

 

I think flexibility is sort of the way the game is going with guys like Djokovic and Dimitrov, Radwanska.  You see literally her butt on the ground when she’s hitting half her shots.

 

I think that’s the way the game is going with the speed and athleticism as opposed to brut strength and force.  I would look for an athlete that’s incredibly flexible that could have picked up tennis and had a lean-looking body.

 

Q. Patrick, looking ahead six weeks after the French and Wimbledon are over, what would you consider a good run for the American men and for the American women with these two Grand Slams coming up?

McENROE:  The expectations are obviously higher for the women.  I don’t mean obviously just Serena.  She’s the huge favorite in both.  But I think for Sloane Stephens, I think we’re seeing a lot of positive signs out of Christina McHale, Madison Keys.  For me, the younger two, Keys and McHale, I’d love to see one of the them get to the second week of one of these two.  Serena, her expectations would be to win both of them.

 

For our men, I think it’s time to step up.  I think some of our younger guys are making the strides.  A second week for a couple of them isn’t out of the question.  Isner has the ability to do it at both of these occasions.  Steve Johnson and Sock are showing some positive signs.  I think some of these younger guys are going to step up and make something happen.  I think definitely an appearance in the second week for the men would be great.

 

Q. Sloane Stephens, kind of a tough patch now for a bit? 

EVERT:  First of all, I wouldn’t be surprised to see a quarterfinalist at Wimbledon.  If you remember at Wimbledon last year, Sloane had a good run, and also Madison lost to Radwanska in three sets.  Radwanska was really favored to win at that point because everybody else had lost.  As far as Sloane, it’s frustrating for all of us.  I know Patrick and I, too.  It’s frustrating to watch her play because we know what she is capable of.  We know the talent that she has.  I mean, for me it just seems that she’s taking her time.  You know what I’m saying?  It’s maybe not the right time right now, although it should be.  She doesn’t seem to be putting it all on the line.  She doesn’t seem to be playing with a sense of urgency.

 

The other players, like Bouchard, the other players her age, even younger, she’s kind of lackadaisical, goes in and out of matches.  It’s almost like it will happen in her own time.  It has to come from within her.  No matter what coach she has, what everybody is telling her, I feel she has the type of temperament that when she is ready we’re going to see some brilliance.

McENROE:  I think she’s going to turn it around.  I think deep within her she’s a competitor, a great competitor.  I’ve seen her win a lot of matches where she looked out of it.  As Chrissie said, she’s got to make the decision in her own mind, and when she does, look out.

 

Q. Talk about Madison (Keys) for a minute.  Where do you think her game is at now? 

EVERT:  I think Madison is still a work in progress.  Again, she’s young.  Can’t expect anything more than that.

She’s at the right place for her age and maturity, emotional maturity, right now.  We all see the power.  We see the huge serve.  I’d like to see a better percentage of big serves because that’s where she’s going to win most of her free points.  Her serve is the closest to Serena of any of the players as far as power, placement.  I’d like to see a more consistent serve.  She’s a big girl, and she’s still a teenager, so she’s working on her moving because she’s grown all of a sudden and developed into a woman.  She needs to kind of settle in and working on her movement a little bit.  Very much like Serena, once she gets a little more fit, she won’t feel like she has to go for big shots at inopportune times when she’s out of position.  Right now to me it’s her moving, but it’s there.  She and Sloane to me are the two top American hopefuls.

McENROE:  Not a lot to add to that other than her first serve is really big.  You’re right, it’s not consistent enough.  Her second serve needs to get better.  But she wants it.  She wants it.  She’s working hard.  I think she’s got a real desire to get there.  As she improves her fitness, which she’s doing, her shot selection is going to improve.  It’s naturally going to improve.  As that happens, she’s going to be able to do a lot of damage.  I think she also has to work on coming forward a little bit more.  We saw her and Sloane play doubles in the Fed Cup.  They both could use a little work on the net, coming forward.  Sloane is a better mover, so she’s going to be able to beat people from the baseline with her movement as well as her power.  I’d like to see Madison add the ability to come in and finish some points at the net as well because she’s got a big reach.  That’s certainly a part of her game that can improve.  The good thing is she’s young.  She’s already 40 or so in the world.  There’s a lot of things that can get better.  That’s a real positive.

EVERT:  She’s going at a good pace.  It’s almost like two years ago, for her to have a big win wouldn’t have been a good thing.  She’s going at a good pace and managing herself really, really well.

 

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ESPN Broadcast Schedule for the French Open

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ESPN Broadcast Schedule for the French Open

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(May 19, 2014) The second Major of the year – the French Open on the iconic red clay of Roland Garros in Paris – begins Sunday, May 25, on ESPN2 and ESPN3, the start of more than 50 hours on television and 330 via ESPN3’s presentation of up to seven courts on the days ESPN2 is on the air.  ESPN2 and ESPN3 will begin at 5 a.m. ET most days on weekdays through Thursday, June 5, culminating with the women’s semifinals.

 

After the opening day, ESPN2’s schedule will continue with an all-live telecast starting at 5 a.m. each day through Friday, May 30, and again on Monday, June 2.  The network will air live and same-day quarterfinal action Tuesday, June 4, at 1 p.m. and Wednesday, June 5, at 8 a.m.  ESPN2 will air both women’s semifinals live Thursday, June 6, at 9 a.m.

 

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

  • 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.
  • Chrissie Evert, a Hall of Famer who joined ESPN in 2011, her 18 major titles includes a record six US Open titles.  She recorded the best career win-loss record in history, and this French Open is the 40th anniversary of her first Major title.
  • 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 has hosted College GameDay on football Saturdays since 1990, has hosted tennis since 2003, branching out over the years to also call matches. His diverse resume includes hosting World Cup soccer, college basketball including the Final Four, the X Games and Triple Crown horse racing events.  Originally the host of Scholastic Sports America and later a SportsCenter anchor, in 2014 he becomes 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.
  • 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 is General Manager, USTA Elite Player Development.  He won the 1992 French Open doubles title and reached the 1991 Australian Open semifinals in singles.
  • 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.

 

For the seventh consecutive year, ESPN2 is working with Tennis Channel to bring viewers an almost around-the-clock tournament experience, with each channel cross-promoting the other’s schedule.

DIGITAL MEDIA, AT HOME AND ABROAD; INTERNATIONAL TV

WatchESPN will deliver ESPN2’s live coverage of the French Open, accessible online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the award-winning WatchESPN app, and streamed on televisions through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV to more than 92 million households nationwide via an affiliated video or internet provider.

 

ESPN3’s French Open schedule totals 330 hours with a multi-screen offering of up to seven courts and is available on the days the network is televising starting as early as 5a ET.  Matches will also be available after they take place via replay.

 

In Latin America and the Caribbean, ESPNPlay provide customers with extensive live coverage with multiple windows totaling over 500 hours in both English and Spanish on broadband platforms in addition to televised coverage throughout the regions.

 

ESPN.com will provide comprehensive coverage before, during and after the French Open, highlighted by CourtCast, which will feature all the live action from ESPN3.  As always, it will also include real-time scoring from all courts, plus continuous live polling with results revealed immediately in ESPN2’s telecasts.  CourtCast will also provide an augmented social media feed (Twitter and Facebook) from the players, analysts and writers. In addition, CourtCast will host a Scribble live blog starting with the semifinals through the men’s final. And, of course, ESPN.com will have the latest news, analysis, schedules and more.

Fans can watch Digital Serve daily with ESPN2 commentators discussing the latest action and previewing key matches.  Other highlights include:

  • Leading into the French Open, Peter Bodo, Greg Garber and Kamakski Tandon will get fans ready for the year’s second Major with features and analysis, with topics including who’s hot and who’s not, why Americans struggle on clay, can Serena Williams defend her title, the tale of former French Open champion Ana Ivanovic and whether Rafael Nadal will catch Roger Federer in career Major titles.
  • The Latest Dirt:  daily notebook roundup of all the day’s action;
  • Daily columns by Garber reacting to the biggest upsets and best matches.
  • Center Court:  a tennis video show featured each week on all the major news from Roland Garros;
  • What We Learned:  ESPN.com senior writer Greg Garber and others will highlight the day’s news and notes with quick video snippets on the overlooked storylines.
  • 60-Second Slice:  everything that transpired that day in a one-minute video.
  • The Shank – mis-hits and mis-steps each day presented in a blog using social media, photos and more.

 

espnW.com

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

 

ESPN Interactive TV, available on DIRECTV the first eight days of the tournament, will present the French Open showing ESPN2 or Tennis Channel’s live coverage along with five other courts available with commentary.  Other features include interactive data, the tournament draw, up-to-date scores, and daily order of play.

 

ESPN International will present over 100 hours of live French Open coverage to more than 50 countries in Spanish-speaking Latin America and the Caribbean on its pan-regional and regional networks.  Matches will be chosen based on local interest, and commentary will be offered in English and Spanish, with expert analysis provided by two Spanish-speaking announce teams: Luis Alvarez and Javier Frana and Eduardo Varela and Jose Luis Clerc whom will be on site in Paris, along with reporter Nicolas Pereira.

 

In addition to both SD, HD and authenticated platforms, ESPN International’s broadband service, ESPN Play, will stream over 500 hours of live French Open matches, including the men’s and women’s finals.

 

2014 French Open on ESPN2 & ESPN2 HD

Date Time (ET) Event  
Sun, May 25 –

  Fri, May 30

5 – 10 a.m. Early Round Action

 

Live
       
Mon, June 2 5 – 10 a.m. Round of 16 Live
Tue, June 3 1 – 7 p.m. Quarterfinals Live & Same-day action
Wed, June 4 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Quarterfinals Live
Thur, June 5 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Women’s Semifinals Live

 

2014 French Open on ESPN3

Date Time (ET) Event  
Sun, May 25 –

  Fri, May 30

5 a.m. – 3 p.m. Early Round Action

Up to seven courts.

Live
       
Mon, June 2 5 a.m. – 3 p.m. Round of 16 Live
Tue, June 3 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Quarterfinals Live
Wed, June 4 5 a.m. – 1 p.m. Quarterfinals Live
Thur, June 5 5 a.m. – 1 p.m. Men’s Doubles Semis

Women’s Semifinals

Live

 

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John McEnroe Expands Role at ESPN to that of Radio Show Host

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(February 17, 2014) ESPN tennis analyst and Hall of Famer John McEnroe will expand his role beyond tennis to include year-round, non-tennis appearances on television and radio.  The 17-time Major winner (seven in singles, nine in doubles, one in mixed doubles) has worked the US Open for ESPN since 2009 and Wimbledon since 2012.

 

In addition to his work on tennis, McEnroe will serve as an analyst on SportsCenter discussing major topics of all sorts and handling sit-down interviews with top sports stars.  He also will make regular appearances on ESPN2’s Olbermann and on ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike, also seen weekday mornings on ESPN2.  In addition, he also will also be heard on ESPN Radio New York (98.7 FM).

 

“Before John was a superstar in tennis, he was a sports fan…with sharp opinions and wit, as we’ve seen on our tennis productions,” said John Wildhack, ESPN executive vice president, programming and production.  “His no-holds barred insights and personality will enliven whatever program or platform he is on,”

 

John McEnroe said, “I am excited about my expanded role with ESPN.  It should be interesting and fun, as a life-long sports fan, to be able to voice my opinions on a variety of sports programs and forums, alongside some of the most talented people in the industry. The broad platform offered by ESPN makes it the perfect place for me to bring my point of view to all sports, not just tennis. ”

 

McEnroe won 77 singles titles in his career, highlighted by four US Open titles and three at Wimbledon.  He also won 10 more major championships in doubles or mixed doubles.  Although a loss, his five-set duel with Bjorn Borg in the 1980 Wimbledon Gentlemen’s Final – highlighted by McEnroe surviving an 18-16 fourth set tiebreak – is one of the most memorable events in tennis history.  An avid Davis Cup participant, he led the U.S. to five championships and later served as the team’s captain.  He also won the NCAA singles and team titles while attending Stanford.  In 2010, John founded the John McEnroe Tennis Academy in his hometown of New York City, where he is now working daily to develop the next great group of American tennis players.

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2014 Australian Open Broadcast Schedules for ESPN and Tennis Channel

 

2014 Australian Open broadcast schedules for ESPN and Tennis Channel

ESPNlogo

AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2014 on ESPN2 HD

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

Therefore, the listing Sun., Jan. 20 at 3 a.m. ET is actually very late on Sunday night.)

Date Time (ET) Event Network
Sun, Jan 12 7 p.m. – 7 a.m. Early Round Action ESPN2 Live
Mon, Jan 13 9 p.m. – 7 a.m. Early Round Action ESPN2 Live
Tue, Jan 14 9 p.m. – 7 a.m. Early Round Action ESPN2 Live
Wed, Jan 15 9 p.m. – 7 a.m. Early Round Action ESPN2 Live
Thurs, Jan 16 11 p.m. – 7 a.m. Early Round Action ESPN2 Live
Fri, Jan 17 9 p.m. – 7 a.m. Early Round Action ESPN2 Live
Sat, Jan 18 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. Round of 16 ESPN2 Live
Sun, Jan 19 3 a.m – 6 a.m. Round of 16 ESPN2 Live
9 p.m. – 2 a.m. Round of 16 ESPN2 Live
Mon, Jan 20 3 a.m. – 6:30 a.m. Round of 16 ESPN2 Live
9 p.m – 2 a.m. Quarterfinals ESPN2 Live
Tue, Jan 21 3 a.m. – 5:30 a.m. Quarterfinals ESPN2 Live
9 p.m. – 2 a.m. Quarterfinals ESPN2 Live
Wed, Jan 22 3:30 a.m. – 6 a.m. Quarterfinals ESPN2 Live
9:30 p.m – 2 a.m. Women’s Semifinals ESPN2 Live
Thurs, Jan 23 3:30 a.m. – 6 a.m. Men’s Semifinal No. 1 ESPN Live
Fri, Jan 24 3:30 a.m. – 6 a.m. Men’s Semifinal No. 2 ESPN Live
Sat, Jan 25 3 a.m. – 5:30 a.m Women’s Final ESPN Live
Sun, Jan 26 3 a.m. – 6:30 a.m. Men’s Final ESPN Live

 

ESPN Interactive TV, seen on DIRECTV and ESPN3, will again present the Australian Open in a six-screen “mix channel” format.  For eight hours each evening during the first eight days of the tournament, viewers will be able to watch the ESPN2 feed or select from five other courts, all with commentary and customized graphics.   Interactive data features include the tournament draw, up-to-date scores, daily order of play, and social media interaction.  SportsCenter’s Steve Weissman will anchor the coverage, providing studio updates and news from around the tournament. Joining the announce team are former players Chanda Rubin, Jeff Tarango, Leif Shiras, Elise Burgin, Doug Adler, Nick Lester, and Christen Bartelt, along with play by play announcers Mark Donaldson and Brian Webber. New for 2014, viewers will enjoy advanced interactive features providing player bios, as well as match-specific Twitter Feeds and “bottom line” information.

 

ESPN International will deliver over 110 hours of live HD coverage to the pan-regional ESPN networks in Latin America.  Showcasing the biggest names in tennis and players of local relevance, broadcasts will air in three languages, including Spanish coverage in Mexico, Central America & South America, Portuguese coverage in Brazil, and English coverage in the Caribbean. ESPN+ Brazil will air over 60 hours of live complementary coverage throughout the early rounds, while ESPN+ in South America will air over 30 hours of additional Spanish coverage.

DIGITAL MEDIA, AT HOME AND ABROAD

WatchESPN will deliver ESPN2’s and ESPN’s live coverage of the Australian Open online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and streamed on televisions through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members, Apple TV and Roku.  Additionally, ESPN3 will once again provide coverage of up to eight live feeds from the TV courts – 500 hours.  For the first 11 days (Sun., Jan. 12 – Wed., Jan. 22), coverage will commence at 7 p.m. (11 a.m. in Melbourne, when play begins) and continue for at least seven hours.  The courts to be included are the “TV courts,” the ones most likely to have top matches:  Rod Laver Arena, Hisense Arena, Margaret Court Arena, plus Courts 2, 3, 6 and 8.  For the remainder of the tournament, ESPN3 will continue with select live coverage from ESPN2, including the women’s (Jan. 25) and men’s (Jan. 26) finals, plus exclusive coverage of select men’s, women’s and mixed doubles play and the boys’ and girls’ finals.  Fans can also access ESPN3 feeds from AustralianOpen.com.  Each window will be available for on-demand replay following completion.  With ESPN3’s dynamic interface, fans will be able to fast-forward, rewind and pause action – during on-demand replay and live action.

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 International’s ESPN Play (Watch ESPN  in Brazil) broadband service in Latin America will provide wall-to-wall coverage of the year’s first Grand Slam, airing over 500 hours of live tennis from every available televised court, including the men’s & women’s quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, all live. This streaming action will be available in 16 million homes throughout Spanish-speaking Latin America/Caribbean plus eight million more homes in Brazil.

 

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Date Time (ET) Event Network
Mon, Jan. 13 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. First-round play Tennis Channel Live
Tues, Jan. 14 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Second-round play Tennis Channel Live
Weds, Jan. 15 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Second-round play Tennis Channel Live
Thurs, Jan. 16 7 p.m. – 11 p.m. Third-round play Tennis Channel Live
Fri, Jan. 17 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Third-round play Tennis Channel Live
Sat, Jan. 18 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Round of 16 Tennis Channel Live
Sun, Jan. 19 7 p.m – 9 p.m. Round of 16 Tennis Channel Live
Mon, Jan. 20 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. Round of 16/Quarterfinals Tennis Channel Live
Tues, Jan. 21 3 a.m. – 5:30 a.m. Quarterfinals Tennis Channel Live
Weds, Jan. 22 7 p.m. – 9:30 p.m. Quarterfinals/Men’s doubles semis Tennis Channel Live
Thurs, Jan. 23 11 p.m. – 3 a.m. Mixed doubles semis/Women’s doubles final Tennis Channel Live
Sat, Jan. 25 5:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m Men’s doubles final Tennis Channel Live
Sun, Jan. 26 12 a.m. – 2 a.m. Mixed doubles final Tennis Channel Live
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ESPN’s 30 for 30 to Air Jimmy Connors Documentary “This is What They Want “ Premiering October 29

JimmyConnors

(October 23, 2013) ESPN Films’  30 for 30 film series continues next week with This is What They Want premiering Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN. The film focuses on former tennis icon Jimmy Connors’ surprising and exciting run during the 1991 US Open in the twilight of his career.

 

When Jimmy Connors arrived in New York for the 1991 US Open, the one-time tennis superstar was 8 years removed from his last Grand Slam singles title, ranked 174th in the world and approaching his 39th birthday.  Not exactly a recipe for success.  But on the verge of a quick first-round exit, Connors suddenly and unexpectedly re-captured the magic, embarking on a stirring and extraordinary run than included an epic contest with Aaron Krickstein on his way to the semifinals.  This is What They Want not only illuminates this highly improbably march past a series of talented and youthful adversaries, it also explores how Connors became a polarizing and provocative personality who helped make tennis a high-octane spectator sport.

 

This is What They Want is directed by Brian Koppelman and David Levien, who have been writing, directing and producing movies since 1997. Among their films are Rounders, Solitary Man, Oceans Thirteen, The Illusionist, and Runner, Runner. This is What They Want features interviews from former tennis players John and Patrick McEnroe, Mary Carillo, Jim Courier and Aaron Krickstein.

 

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ESPN3 to Livestream 10 Hours of USTA Collegiate Clay Court Invitational

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(October 23, 2013) WHITE PLAINS, N.Y.,  – The USTA Collegiate Clay Court Invitational – the largest clay court event in college tennis, featuring many of the country’s top college players – will be live-streamed online on ESPN3.com this Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m. ET.

 

The event, hosted by Florida State University Thursday-Sunday at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at DisneyWorld in Orlando, Fla., will feature eight of the Top 100 men in the Intercollegiate Tennis Association’s preseason singles rankings and five of the Top 100 women in the ITA’s preseason singles rankings. Overall, the event will feature 113 players, with 11 colleges represented: Central Florida, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Illinois, North Florida, Notre Dame, Pepperdine, South Alabama, Tennessee, Tulsa and USC on the men’s side, and Auburn, Central Florida, Florida, New Mexico, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Tulsa and Vanderbilt on the women’s side.

 

The Invitational, sponsored by Visit Florida and Florida Hospital, will also include a group of select junior boys and girls competing alongside the college players. The event is one of a series of three fall events the USTA stages combing juniors and collegians, with each singles champion winning a wild card entry into a future USTA Pro Circuit event. The series wraps up with the USTA Collegiate Invitational, a hard-court, women’s event in Portland, Ore., Nov. 1-3.

 

Kevin Corke will host Sunday’s live stream, which will include the men’s and women’s singles and doubles finals and the men’s singles semifinals. Additionally, USTA Player Development General Manager Patrick McEnroe will help kick off the event at Thursday night’s player reception.

 

Draws, results and schedule information can be found by visiting the Florida State men’s tennis home page on www.seminoles.com and by following @ustacollege10s and @FSU_MTennis on Twitter.

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Andy Murray, Juan Martin Del Potro and others to Participate in The Dream Cup Barbados during Thanksgiving Weekend

The Dream Cup

(October 4, 2013) Barbados Saint Peter’s Bay Resort & Residences will play host to The Dream Cup Barbados tennis exhibition featuring Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro, Richard Gasquet and Nicolas Almagro during Thanksgiving weekend, from November 28 to December 1. 

 

As part of a two-year agreement, ESPN will air exclusive live coverage of the event on its television and broadband networks in Australia and New Zealand, Brazil, the Caribbean and Spanish-speaking Latin America, and stream it live on its broadband network in the U.S.  ESPN’s agreement with the Dream Cup Barbados also includes exclusive live airing of the 2014 event.

“We are thrilled to have top players like Andy, Juan Martin, Richard and Nicolas come to Barbados and experience this incredible paradise,” said Kodi Lewis, Executive Director, The Dream Cup Barbados. “We are grateful for the relationships with key supporters such as the Barbados Tourism Authority, ESPN and Saint Peter’s Bay. Having this amazing tennis talent compete on the island will be a fantastic experience for the fans and sponsors and we can’t wait to kick ‘The Dream Cup’ off.”

 

“The Dream Cup from Barbados is an exceptional showcase for some of the best tennis players in the world,” Michael Walters, vice president, programming, ESPN International, said.  “It will provide ESPN International’s multi-platform services with an outstanding tennis competition from a unique venue and we are pleased to be able to bring this event live to fans around the world.”

 

The Dream Cup Barbados on ESPN

(All times Eastern)

DATE

TIME

REGION

NETWORK

Friday 29 November

6 pm – 10 pm

Australia

ESPN 2, ESPN3

 

6 pm – 10 pm

Brazil

ESPN+, WatchESPN

 

6 pm – 10 pm

Caribbean

ESPN 2, ESPN Play

 

6 pm – 10 pm

Mexico

ESPN 2, ESPN Play

 

6 pm – 10 pm

U.S.

ESPN3

Saturday 30 November

6 pm – 8 pm

Australia & New Zealand

ESPN, ESPN3

 

6 pm – 8 pm

Brazil

ESPN, WatchESPN

 

6 pm – 8 pm

Caribbean

ESPN, ESPN3

 

6 pm – 8 pm

Latin America

ESPN, ESPN Play

 

6 pm – 8 pm

U.S.

ESPN3

 

 

Barbados (October 4, 2013) – The Dream Cup Barbados will showcase four (4) of the world’s best tennis players, including Grand Slam Champions Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro along with Richard Gasquet and Nicolas Almagro.  The Caribbean island will be the center of the tennis universe this Thanksgiving weekend with four of the premiere tennis players in the world competing from November 28 to December 1.  

 

As part of a two-year agreement, ESPN will air exclusive live coverage of the event on its television and broadband networks in Australia and New Zealand, Brazil, the Caribbean and Spanish-speaking Latin America, and stream it live on its broadband network in the U.S.  ESPN’s agreement with the Dream Cup Barbados also includes exclusive live airing of the 2014 event.

 

The Dream Cup Barbados on ESPN

(All times Eastern)

DATE

TIME

REGION

NETWORK

Friday 29 November

6 pm – 10 pm

Australia

ESPN 2, ESPN3

 

6 pm – 10 pm

Brazil

ESPN+, WatchESPN

 

6 pm – 10 pm

Caribbean

ESPN 2, ESPN Play

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New ESPN, ATP World Tour TV Agreement Expands Coverage of Indian Wells, Miami & Season-Ending Championship

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New ESPN, ATP World Tour TV Agreement Expands Coverage of Indian Wells, Miami & Season-Ending Championship

TV Schedule for Miami Now includes Both Finals

ESPN3 to Deliver More Action from Every ATP World Tour Masters 1000 & 500 Event

 

From ESPN: (September 18, 2013) ESPN and the ATP World Tour have finalized a long-term agreement that will expand coverage of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif.; Sony Open Tennis in Miami; and the season-ending Barclays ATP World Tour Finals currently played in London. More than 44 hours will be aired, including, for the first time, both the women’s and men’s championships from the South Florida event.  Also, more live action from every ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and 500 tournament will be on ESPN3 – totaling up to 1,200 hours annually.

 

“ESPN is thrilled to expand coverage of three of the biggest events outside the Major Championships – Indian Wells, Miami and the ATP World Tour season finale,” said Jason Bernstein, ESPN senior director, programming & acquisitions who oversees both ESPN3 and ESPN’s tennis business.  “ESPN3 presents more live tennis action than any other U.S. outlet year-round, with multiple simultaneous matches available on broadband and via WatchESPN no matter where you are.”

 

Mark Young, CEO ATP Americas and Chief Media Officer, said, “We’re delighted to sign this extended agreement with ESPN, paving the way for even greater TV coverage and viewership in the US of our biggest events.  ESPN is a terrific broadcast partner for the ATP and, with more fans tuning into ATP World Tour events than ever before, it’s a very exciting time to be a part of the Tour.”

 

ESPN3 is ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, a 24/7 destination that delivers thousands of global sports events annually via WatchESPN.  It is available to 85 million homes at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider.  The network is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers connected to on-campus educational networks and on-base military networks.

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