Third Season of “World of Tennis” to Debut on Tennis Channel December 5

(November 29, 2012) NEW YORK, N.Y. – StarGames and MSG Sports have announced that the third season of “World of Tennis Presented by BNP Paribas” will debut next week. The first of seven episodes of the bi-weekly series will premiere on Tennis Channel at 7:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, December 5.

The 30-minute show will feature “Holding Court,” a profile segment hosted by Justin Gimelstob that this year will include interviews with tennis legends Jimmy Connors and Boris Becker as well as Olympic gold medal skier and tennis fan Lindsay Vonn. In the first two years of the show, Gimelstob’s guests included Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick and “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson.

The hot topics of tennis will also be covered on each episode during a round table discussion with Sports Illustrated Senior Writer Jon Wertheim and the editorial staff at Tennis.com.

Tennis Channel will debut a new episode of the magazine show every other Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. EST, until February 27. Each show will then re-air on Tennis Channel.

“We’re happy to have the new season of World of Tennis back on Tennis Channel again,” said David Scott, vice president, programming, Tennis Channel. “Since its inception the series has allowed our viewers to get an insider’s look at some of the most exciting players and pressing issues in the sport today.”

The season finale on February 27 will be a preview of World Tennis Day, which includes BNP Paribas Showdown events in New York City and Hong Kong on March 4. The sixth annual event in New York at Madison Square Garden is part of Tennis Night in America (TNIA) and will feature Victoria Azarenka, Serena Williams, Juan Martin del Potro and Rafael Nadal. TNIA is an annual celebration of the sport in the United States which encourages 10-and-under tennis.

The BNP Paribas Showdown at AsiaWorld-Arena will mark the event’s first year in Hong Kong and will feature Li Na, Caroline Wozniacki, Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe.

“There is a lot of tennis on television, but I think ‘World of Tennis’ separates itself as a unique look at the personalities and stories in the game,” said Jerry Solomon, executive producer and president of StarGames. “It is only possible to present this show with the help of our partners at MSG and BNP Paribas. Collectively, we want to present tennis to the widest possible audience, and this show is a chance to not only showcase tennis but also to give fans a real inside look at the stories and personalities that make the game so compelling.”

Long-time tennis producer Jennie Silverstein will produce “World of Tennis Presented by BNP Paribas” for StarGames and MSG Sports. BNP Paribas, a leader in banking and financial services and the world No. 1 tennis partner, will be presenting sponsor, with additional support being provided by Tennis Magazine, Wilson, Getty Images, USTA, Tennis Night in America and the BNP Paribas Showdown.

Video highlights and uncut versions of the interviews from “World of Tennis Presented by BNP Paribas” are found on www.stargamesinc.com.

More information on the BNP Paribas Showdown events in New York and Hong Kong can be found on www.worldtennisday.com.


Austin Joins Tennis Channel for Australian Open, Broadcast Schedule Announced

Tennis Channel is adding two-time US Open winner Tracy Austin to Melbourne for its coverage of the season’s first major, Grand Slam competition. Austin, who hosts the network’s Tennis Channel Academy series and has appeared as an analyst during telecasts of the US Open and women’s year-end championships, will offer commentary during the channel’s fifth airing of the annual two-week tournament, underway Monday, Jan. 16, at 7 p.m. ET.


Austin will join Tennis Channel lead commentator Martina Navratilova – a fellow Hall of Famer – and veteran sportscaster Bill Macatee, both of whom have appeared during every major ever covered by the network. In all, Tennis Channel will devote approximately 175 hours of programming to the Australian Open this year, with 30 hours of live play, 85 hours of Australian Open Today and more than 60 hours of encore-match coverage.


“I’m excited to join Martina, Bill and the rest of the Tennis Channel team in Melbourne this year,” said Austin. “As we go into the 2012 season, I look forward to seeing if a dominant No. 1 can emerge on the women’s side again. It’s been fun watching new faces and first-time winners break through at the majors the past few years, but I’d like to see if anyone can step up, win Slams and play sustained, excellent tennis throughout the year. On the men’s side, I think it’s great that Andy Murray’s brought in Ivan Lendl as his coach, someone with a champion’s mentality who may be able to finally push him over the top at the majors.”


New for the network’s Australian Open coverage in 2012 are 10 consecutive nights of prime-time matches, beginning at 7 p.m. ET, within its overall, 13-day coverage window (complete schedule follows). This will take place from the first Monday through the second Wednesday, without any intermittent days off, as had occurred in previous years.


In addition to a live schedule that runs from the first day of play through the singles quarterfinals, men’s and women’s doubles finals, and mixed-doubles championship, Tennis Channel will again televise same-day encores of the men’s and women’s singles semifinals and championships.

Coverage of all five Australian Open finals – mixed doubles and men’s and women’s singles and doubles – has been a Tennis Channel mainstay since its first year Down Under in 2008, when it became the first U.S. television network to air all of these championship matches.


Daily morning show Australian Open Today will run from 7 a.m.-11 a.m. ET most mornings (complete schedule follows), with the highlights, features, news updates and unseen matches that keeps American audiences up to speed with what happened Down Under while they were sleeping. With minor exceptions, each edition will re-air every afternoon at 3 p.m. ET, leading into Tennis Channel’s live coverage at 7 p.m. ET. As with Austin’s analysis and the 10 consecutive nights of live, prime-time play, the Australian Open Today afternoon encores are new for the network in 2012.


The tournament is part of Tennis Channel’s ongoing Grand Slam alliance with ESPN, which offers audiences a near round-the-clock tournament experience at tennis’ major events. ESPN is producing all Australian Open coverage for both networks, which will cross-promote each other, with each channel utilizing its own commentators.


Australian Open On-Air Talent

Austin is perhaps best known for storming onto the tennis scene and dethroning four-time US Open champion Chris Evert in 1979, winning the tournament as a 16-year-old prodigy, the youngest US Open champion in history. She held the No. 1 singles ranking in 1980 before a variety of injuries cut short her career, but nonetheless managed to win 30 career titles, including two US Open singles championships and a Wimbledon mixed-doubles title. The International Tennis Hall of Fame inducted Austin into its wings in 1992.


She will add to a team that features Macatee as lead play-by-play announcer and Navratilova as lead commentator, roles both have held since 2008. Navratilova, winner of more singles titles than anyone in professional tennis, and Macatee, the only current broadcaster to cover both Wimbledon and professional golf’s The Masters, have become synonymous with Tennis Channel’s Grand Slam coverage. Both appear during network telecasts at all four majors: Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.


Analyst Justin Gimelstob is another familiar face to Tennis Channel viewers, during Grand Slam coverage and throughout the year. In addition to Macatee, Navratilova and Austin, this year in Melbourne he will lend his insight to play-by-play announcer Brett Haber, who joins the team after working with the network during the US Open and other competitions throughout the year. Reporter and author Jon Wertheim will also be onboard, handling reporting duties during the event. Wertheim’s articles and columns for Sports Illustrated are among the industry’s most popular.


Several members of Tennis Channel’s on-air talent team will be active on Twitter throughout the Australian Open: Justin Gimelstob (@justingimelstob), Bill Macatee (@BMacatee), Brett Haber  (@BrettHaber) and Jon Wertheim (@jon_wertheim).


Digital Coverage

Tennis Channel’s talent during the Australian Open is not confined to the television screen. Veteran tennis reporters Steve Flink, Joel Drucker (@joeldrucker) and Matt Cronin (@TennisReporters) will join humorist James LaRosa (@JamesLaRosa) in columns and blogs on the network’s Web site, www.tennischannel.com, throughout the two-week tournament. The site will also feature its usual real-time scoring, video highlights, interviews, Australian Open Today clips and interactive Australian Open draw. Visitors have the chance to win multiple prizes this year as well, including a trip to the 2013 Australian Open and $500 prize packages from Wilson Sports as part of Tennis Channel’s exclusive Racquet Bracket tournament prediction game.


New in 2012, Tennis Channel is introducing “Ask the Expert,” in which viewers can upload short videos of themselves asking questions for members of the network telecast team to answer on air during the Australian Open. Clips that are selected will be televised prior to talent members’ answers. Videos can be submitted at www.tennischannel.com.


During the Australian Open members of the media, television viewers and tennis fans also will be able to stay engaged with Tennis Channel via Facebook www.facebook.com/tennischannel, Twitter (www.twitter.com/tennischannel) and YouTube (www.youtube.com/tennischannel).


Tennis Channel’s Live Australian Open Match Schedule (all times ET)

Date                                                    Time                            Event                                     

Monday, Jan. 16                                  7 p.m.-9 p.m.               First-Round

Tuesday, Jan. 17                                  7 p.m.-9 p.m.               Second-Round

Wednesday, Jan. 18                             7 p.m.-11 p.m.            Second-Round

Thursday, Jan. 19                                 7 p.m.-11 p.m.             Third-Round

Friday, Jan. 20                                     7 p.m.-9 p.m.               Third-Round

Saturday, Jan. 21                                  7 p.m.-9 p.m.               Round of 16

Sunday, Jan. 22                                    7 p.m.-9 p.m.               Round of 16

Monday, Jan. 23                                7 p.m.-9 p.m.               Men’s and Women’s Quarterfinals

Tuesday, Jan. 24                                7 p.m.-9 p.m.               Men’s and Women’s Quarterfinals

Wednesday, Jan. 25                             7 p.m.-9:30 p.m.          TBA

Thursday, Jan. 26                                 11 p.m.-3 a.m.             Women’s Doubles Final

and Mixed Doubles Semifinal

Saturday, Jan. 28                                  5:30 a.m.-7:30 a.m.      Men’s Doubles Final

Sunday, Jan. 29                                    12:30 a.m.-2:30 a.m.    Mixed Doubles Final

Tennis Channel’s Australian Open Today Schedule (all times ET)


Australian Open Today airs Monday, Jan. 16-Wednesday, Jan. 25. The program generally runs from 7 a.m.-11 a.m., with same-day encore presentations each afternoon. Exceptions are (all times ET):

Monday, Jan. 16 – 7 a.m.-1 p.m.

Saturday, Jan. 21 – 7 a.m.-10 a.m.

Monday, Jan. 23, through Wednesday, Jan. 25 – 6 a.m.-10 a.m.


Afternoon encore editions of Australian Open Today take place from 3 p.m.-7 p.m. every day other than Monday, Jan. 16 (1 p.m.-7 p.m.) and Saturday, Jan. 21 (1 p.m.-4 p.m. / 4 p.m.-7 p.m.)


Jon Wertheim Talks Fedal Rivalry with Megan Fernandez at No. 4 on the Greatest Hits Countdown

Megan Fernandez caught up with Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated during the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters tournament this past August to talk Federer-Nadal. At number 4 on the 2010 Greatest Hits Countdown:

The Endangered Rivalry: Jon Wertheim Talks Fedal by Megan Fernandez

We’re celebrating 2010 with a countdown of the site’s “Greatest Hits.” In addition we mark the end of our third year as an outlet with news of our own: the site is currently undergoing a re-design and a re-launch with a new name to be announced just before the new site goes live before the end of the month. The rankings were determined by the number of hits between December 10, 2009 through December 10, 2010. The countdown will continue through New Year’s Day. [Read more...]


The Endangered Rivalry: Jon Wertheim Talks Fedal by Megan Fernandez

Photos ©Enrique Fernandez for Global Village Tennis News

The Endangered Rivalry: Jon Wertheim Talks Fedal

By Megan Fernandez

The friendliest rivalry in sports sure seems like a stranger these days. Eighteen months ago, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal had played three of the last four Grand Slam finals, two of them epic five-setters. They had a standing date for the final Sunday at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, which they contested in 2006, 2007, and 2008. They had shared a cover of Sports Illustrated. Their careers and legacies were irreversibly entangled and defined largely by each other. With the status quo a thing of the past and the Fed-Nadal empire encroaching on hard-court territory, the plot was never thicker when the two parted ways after Nadal beat Federer (to tears) in at the 2009 Australian Open. During the season’s springtime intermission, tennis fans stocked up on popcorn.

But the next act never came–Federer and Nadal met again only in the Madrid final in 2009 and 2010—and when Nadal lost to Marcos Baghdatis Friday at the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters with Federer waiting in the next round, fans lost hope for a renewal of the rivalry any time soon. If Federer beats Baghdatis today, he’ll remain number-two in the ATP World Tour rankings and the US Open seedings.  He and number-one Nadal couldn’t meet before the final, which the Spaniard has never reached.

Faced with the likelihood that the Roger/Rafa Show will remain dark until 2011, we asked Jon Wertheim, senior editor of Sports Illustrated and author of the Fedal-focused Strokes of Genius, to review the state of tennis’s greatest rivalry:

GVTN: A lot has changed since you wrote Strokes of Genius. How is the rivalry different from what you expected it would become?

JW: Two years ago, look at where we were. People thought Federer had been damaged. He lost at the Olympics, and there were a lot of questions. Nadal was rolling, and people thought it was Nadal Time. Then Nadal was basically a nonfactor. Then Fed wins in Australia. It has been a total reversal. There have been two unexpected turns. Two years ago if you’d said Nadal would be number one and winning Wimbledon, you’d think, sure. But I don’t think we would have believed Federer would have 16 slams.

GVTN: But they have only played 3 times in 09 and 10.

JW: That’s the disappointment. In some ways they have been like satellites passing. It would be nice if we had a few more head-to-head matches.

GVTN: Has the rivalry cooled off?

JW: Yeah, but a lot of it is a function of how the draws have gone. It’s too bad that they haven’t played at the clip that they were two years ago. They’re both still in the conversation, still winning Slams. Since Wimbledon ‘08, only one other player has won a major. But not having these head-to-head matches has cooled the rivalry.  Now, it’s almost theoretical: Nadal has as many majors as Fed at his age; if he wins the US Open, he’ll have won the career Slam earlier than Fed did. But one good final and it’s back on.

GVTN: Has the tenor of their assessment of the rivalry changed?

JW: Not so much. Just a few months ago, Nadal said something like, “Anyone who thinks I’m better than Roger doesn’t know what he’s talking about.” C’mon, dude.  His attitude is that it does him no good to fan the flames. Even with what Nadal is achieving, and on a trajectory where he could really challenge Federer historically, I haven’t seen any retreat from his position that Roger is the greatest. It’s reached a stage where whatever happens when they play each other, it’s significant. The good thing about the rivalry is that each match adds to the narrative.

GVTN: Your book revealed that they are quite friendly off the court. They once shared a jet to a tournament, and Federer dropped by Nadal’s hotel to say hello in Basel [Federer’s hometown]. Now that the dynamic has shifted, are they still as friendly?

JW: It’s still pretty much the same rivalry and relationship. Lately, they have been kind of two ships passing. I hear, don’t be surprised if they play doubles together. But they run in their own circles. Fed hasn’t cooled since Nadal overtook him in the rankings.

GVTN: Has their rivalry shaped the tour?

JW: It definitely has, for better or for worse. When the two top guys comport themselves the way Federer and Nadal do… well, everyone [on tour] has snapped to attention. It’s not just the autograph stuff, it’s like not shooting off their mouths on court.  The rivalry would benefit from a Serena-Henin thing, where there’s clearly no love lost. But it’s also pretty cool to see the kind of relationship these guys can have even in the middle of the rivalry.

GVTN: Is it the friendlies rivalry in sports?

JW: I think it is. It’s almost antithetical to a rivalry to be friendly. But I can’t think of another rivalry like that, where it’s not just mutual respect. They’re at different points in their lives–they are not having dinner together every night–but there’s genuine fondness and warmth.  They get the bigger picture here. Now they just have to go out there and play each other.

Megan Fernandez conducted this interview for Global Village Tennis News during the Western & Southern Financial Group Masters tournament.

Related Article: L. Jon Wertheim Interview on “Strokes of Genius”