May 25, 2016

“On the Call” with Tennis Channel Analyst and International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin

(May 16, 2016) On Monday Tennis Channel Analyst and International Tennis Hall of Famer Tracy Austin held a media conference call to talk about the upcoming French Open and other tennis topics.

 

On evaluating Serena Williams game right now going into the French Open:

I think we certainly had a lot of questions about Serena’s game going into Rome because she had to pull out of Madrid with the flu and therefore took seven weeks off.

“And she was only going to have that one warm‑up red clay court tournament before Roland‑Garros.  And Serena came out playing extremely well right from the first match.

“A little bit of hiccup in her early first set against McHale, but for the most part, for the rest of the week, she was moving well.  She was striking the ball cleanly.

“She had a good temperament, because when we saw her lose to Sveta in the fourth round in Miami, Serena didn’t look that happy to be on the court.  She didn’t play well the last two sets.  Won the first set.

“So I think it was a really positive week for Serena, and I think she seems to be in a good place tennis‑wise and mentally prior to Roland‑Garros.

 

On some of the other top women to watch in Paris:

“We’ve called it topsy‑turvy this year on the WTA tour.  And I was possibly expecting or hoping for someone to come through and be more consistent for the red clay court tournaments.

“And we see (Angelique) Kerber come through and win Stuttgart but then lose early the next two tournaments.  And then you see Halep who wins Madrid but then loses early in Rome. (Victoria) Azarenka who obviously won the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami and beat Serena in the finals of Indian Wells in straight sets.

“You’re thinking, okay, this is building, this is looking good.  She still only lost two times this year.  But she’s been hampered by a back injury that she sustained in Madrid and had to pull out prior to her third round and then didn’t play well against Begu because she was obviously compromised, didn’t have much velocity on her serve.

“So for Vika, who is a former semifinalist at the French, I think it’s all about this week and her preparation.  Only she knows how her back is feeling and whether she’s been able to alleviate that pain and get back on the practice court.

“But Vika, I certainly see, if she’s able to get healthy, you know, get a draw where she can play herself in, maybe give herself a little more time and do a few matches, I think Vika is someone that we all need to pay attention to, because we saw her take Serena to three sets last year three times, had three match points on Serena at Madrid last year, took her to three sets at the French.

“The big question mark is how healthy is Vika and how long has she been healthy.  How many reps has she been able to ‑‑ how much time has she been able to spend on the practice court.

“So as I said, the other ones to look for:  Halep former French Open finalist and won Madrid, looking spectacular, losing just one set to Begu.  Her backhand is always on target.  But her forehand was on target.  Looked positive emotionally, which sometimes can waver and in fact it wavered in Rome.  And Kerber in Stuttgart who just played gutsy there to defend her title for the first time in her career.

“But again lost early the next couple of matches.  But Kerber has been to the quarters, I think, once.  And I think with her newfound success in winning the Australian Open she knows how to navigate her way better through a major and probably feels a lot more confidence in her game that she can problem solve in difficult situations.  So she’ll be interesting.

“And I’ll talk about Muguruza, who is a two‑time quarterfinalist there, obviously beat Serena in the second round a few years back.  And she looked really good.  Madison took her out in the semis in Rome.  But she’s been making improvements.  A slow start to the year for her.

“So I also look for some outliers, Kvitova, who got to the semis of Stuttgart, but early losses or maybe, let’s say, midline losses at the next couple of tournaments.

“And Keys, Keys is somebody who is my outsider, because Madison played spectacular tennis; more importantly, I’m going to take the word “spectacular” out.  I’m going to say smart tennis and remained calm throughout all of her matches in beating two top players Kaviva and Muguruza on the way to the finals.

“And we’ve all been talking about the weapons that Madison has had for years:  Huge serve, the massive forehand, the sheer power that she has.  But it’s always been about shot selection and sometimes not always the smartest shot selection.

“But she was much more patient in building her points; and no matter what the score was, she stayed calm and didn’t pull the trigger too quickly.  So those were huge strides for Madison Keys this week.

On the former No. 1 American Junior Taylor Townsend earning a wildcard into the French:

 

“In February she was .382.  It’s hugely significant.  If I counted the matches correctly, I think it’s 18 matches that she played in those three events.  So getting to the finals of two and winning one.

“I love that consistency.  It wasn’t just like, oh, winning one and then struggling in another and having midline results in another.

“I liked the fact she was so consistent.  Honestly I did not see any of those matches, so I don’t know.  Taylor’s tremendous talent, leftiness is an advantage and asset, and she uses it well.  So I think Taylor is still young.

“It’s very exciting that she’s had the success.  I hope she uses this wildcard well and also uses this success and is a real springboard for her to, I don’t want to use the word “motivated” because I’m sure she’s remained motivated, but to see she’s close and has the talent.  And this confidence will really pay off.

“I think the talent that Taylor has, because she’s ‑‑ I would talk about her game a little bit more and the leftiness.  Obviously a very live arm on her serve.

“Huge forehand.  Can move ‑‑ not move ‑‑ at the net, she’s very handy about the net, which we see so few of the young players that feel comfortable up there.  She’s got good feel as well.

“So really good foundation to build on.  And I think it’s about finding her way and gaining confidence, and these three results will really help.

 

On equal pay in tennis:

“And I don’t think that woman would have a problem playing three out of five sets.  And I think also on the men’s side, oftentimes three out of five is too long.  And so I think women, if they were asked again to play three out of five, that wouldn’t be a problem.

“For me, it’s not about the length.  When you go to a concert, it’s not how long this one plays or a man plays or a woman plays, it’s just about the entertainment value.

“It’s worked for this many years.  I think that until someone comes up with ‑‑ maybe men should go to two out of three.  Maybe it will make it more interesting and feel a sense of urgency.

“I know at the Olympics, I felt that, when I was covering it in London in 2012.  You know, you didn’t have that ability on the men’s side to kind of lose that first set, because there was that sense of urgency.  It was two out of three, I think up until a certain round.  So there’s so many variations that could be thought of.”

 

Thoughts on the men, coming into the French Open:

I do think it’s fascinating because of the results on red clay.  Last week on Tennis Channel I picked Djokovic.  I still pick Djokovic.  But Andy (Murray) winning and the way that he won certainly makes the conversation a lot more interesting.

“Also the fact that Rafa (Nadal) has played at such a high level the last few months, that makes it more interesting as well.

“Rafa, last year, his fluctuations were higher than we have ever seen as far as he would play well and we’d think he’s getting back on track and then he would slip a little bit and then he would play well again.

“It was back and forth, kind of this yo‑yo effect, and he couldn’t really gain traction.  Whereas, I feel like in the last month, on the European red clay, he’s really gained that traction, winning in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.

“And he had a great match this last week in the quarters against Novak.  As Rafa said, it was so very, very close.  That gave him, even though he lost, it gave him a lot of confidence, that he’s now hitting his backhand more firmly, with more penetration.  He’s standing closer to the baseline.

“He’s using a philosophy that he needs to get a lot of first serves in.  He’s serving in the 70s and the low 80s and a couple of his matches, 84 percent, 85 percent of first serves in, serving a little bit further over from the center T on the ad side to get a little bit more angle with his slice.

“Just overall looking a lot more Rafa‑like on clay.  So that’s exciting.  He’s definitely playing at a different confidence level.  Andy Murray might be the biggest surprise.  As he said, he’s finally feeling, in the last couple of years, comfortable moving on the clay.  And he kind of chuckled about it that it took him 10 years to feel this comfortable to slide, to move, and a guy who is such a good athlete with such incredible balance.  We’ve seen his results so consistent each week got better, the semis and then a final, I think it was in Madrid and winning in Rome and beating Rafa along the way.  Beating Djokovic along the way and straight sets no less.

“Let me say one thing, Djokovic might have been beat up a little bit in that final because he had a long match with Rafa and a long match with Kay as well.  But still it’s so impressive the way that Andy was just a lot more penetrating.

“He obviously had a new mindset that he had to strike his ground strokes more powerfully.  I think it was like eight miles per hour faster that he was hitting his ground strokes.  He was hitting his second serve a little bit quicker as well.  Attacking the net was more successful in Rome.  His court positioning.

“So overall he looked very confident.  So I would say those three guys, unfortunately I think Roger has not had enough reps and his back, you know, wasn’t good losing to Thiem.  He really didn’t stretch and change direction and he kind of knew that going in that he was just looking for matches but he didn’t really expect to go to go deep in Rome.  Unfortunately for Roger I think it’s going to be a different Roland‑Garros meaning, I don’t think he’s part of that top tier equation.”

 

On the progress of “young guns” on tour including Taylor Fritz, Nick Kyrgios,Borna Coric, Zverev:

 

“I picked my outlier this year at the French with Kyrgios, the way that he ‑‑ I think he beat Stan.  He beat another top player, like who else did he beat on clay this year?  And then he took Rafa to three sets.

“The way he can hit through the court and just hit winners.  The talent is off the chart.  He’s just dripping with talent.  It’s a question about maintaining that mental balance and he struggled with that.

“I think he’s possibly maturing some.  But I expect him to be a future No. 1, future right at the top of the game.

“I also loved Zverev’s progress.  I think he’s ranked in the 40s now.  And we’ve seen obviously a matchpoint away from beating Rafa at Indian Wells.  Didn’t get it.  But the kid just keeps improving month to month.  It’s not year to year.  It’s not every four months.  It’s just every single time he plays a tournament, seems like he’s gaining valuable experience and knowledge and seems to have pretty all‑court game already.  A huge serve.  Tall.  He’s thin.

“So he’s going to get stronger.  That’s going to take time.  But terrific technically sound ground strokes.  Love his backhand.  Seems in the forecourt pretty comfortable.  Great attitude.

“I love Zverev as well.  Coric to me is very steady.  Talk about him as the mini Djokovic.  And to me I don’t see his high level quite as high because I don’t see the obvious weapons.

“And then Taylor, I think Taylor is ranked about 70 now.  You think about the fact he lost in the Junior Finals last year and now he’s ranked 72 in the world.  That is some incredible progress.  And Taylor has a massive serve.  Unbelievable forehand.  Solid, solid backhand moving much better.

“He grew up with my son.  I’ve seen Taylor since the time he was 10 years old.  Always had great demeanor.  Just a phenomenal kid, by the way.  And I don’t say that about a ton of kids.  I don’t give those compliments out easily.

“Working on his backhand slice, working in his skills in the forecourt, which needs some work.  But the progress has been outstanding.

 

After Andy Murray parted ways with coach Amélie Mauresmo, Austin was asked about if there will be a time when we’ll see more women coaches coaching men or women in the future:

 

As I said on Tennis Channel this week, tennis ball is a tennis ball, and you don’t get anybody out there smarter than Martina (Navratilova), she knows the game, the ins and outs of anybody.

“It’s just a question of how it fits in the schedule.  Andy put it well, and I love Andy, he was such a advocate for Amélie, the fact first of all he hired her, first top male to have a woman coach.  Really says a lot about Andy and the way he was raised by Judy, that he had such confidence they worked well.

“As Andy said, he was struggling when Amélie came on board and he got his game back together.  And I think it was really telling as well when he said since Australia to like where he was at it was two weeks ago, they had spent ten days together.  And that’s just not enough time for a coach to make an impact and therefore he felt probably the need to find someone that could spend more time.

“That was not anything, a knock against Amélie or how she was performing as a coach.  Amélie had a son in August.  And that would be my guess as to where the problem lies; Amélie didn’t want to spend as much time on the road.  So that’s possibly why you don’t see as many women on tour if they have young kids.

“I would not want to coach right now.  I really want to stay home with my kids.  Something possibly for the future.  But I would like to see more women that would like to coach have that opportunity.”

 

Picks for the French Open:

 

“I’ve been talking about it for a week.  As soon as I saw Serena play so well, it’s tough to bet against Serena, three‑time champion there, and Halep is a finalist.

“But other than that, most of the others have been one semis, maybe a quarter or two.  So Serena is my clear favorite the way she’s played so well, was so engaged in Rome.

“The men became more difficult, which makes it exciting.  Because as someone said, I’m picking Djokovic, but yet Nadal is playing so much better and the guy’s won it nine times.  So so much interest there because Djokovic obviously going for his last Grand Slam to achieve the Calendar‑Year Grand Slam.

“So a lot of interest.  I’m very excited to go back to Paris.  I haven’t been there in over a decade.  Very excited to be working with Tennis Channel.  Love the Tennis Channel team and call it the Tennis Channel Family.

“So my son will be playing in the juniors there as well in either the junior qualifying or possibly the main draw.  So that will be of extra interest to me the second week.”

Tracy Austin will part of the broadcast team for Tennis Channel’s coverage of the French Open.

Related article:

Tennis Channel 2016 French Open Coverage Schedule

Tennis Channel 2016 French Open Coverage Schedule

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Tennis Channel 2016 French Open Coverage Schedule

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LOS ANGELES, May 16, 2016 -Tennis Channel will offer French Open coverage during its 10th year in Paris, underway May 22-June 5. With close to 80 percent of all live French Open hours on television this year, 15 days of action from first ball through championship point, seven days of exclusive on-air coverage, 10-hour match windows, late-night encores, and a talent roster that sees Tracy Austin join other Hall of Famers and sportscasters, the network will dedicate more than 325 total hours to the two-week competition, with another 500 hours available digitally.

 

New in 2016, Tennis Channel is expanding its total live match hours at Roland Garros (commonly referred to as the French Open) to 110, up from around 65 live hours last spring. This will create an exclusive, 10-hour window of daily live play for almost half the tournament, immediately followed by encore matches throughout the night and up to the start of the next day’s competition. Coverage this year will run from the first point of opening day through the men’s and women’s singles semifinals and mixed-doubles championship – expanding to include all men’s and women’s singles quarterfinals Also new, Tennis Channel will add outer-court matches to its encore lineup.

 

The network is also adding close to 100 hours of Roland Garros qualifying matches on air and on digital subscription service Tennis Channel Plus this week, as contenders battle for position in the tournament’s main draw. This is the first time that Tennis Channel has shown qualifying matches at any of tennis’ four major competitions. This week live matches begin at 4 a.m. ET on Tennis Channel Plus every morning, with same-day delayed coverage on air beginning Tuesday, May 17, at 1 p.m. ET. Roland Garros qualifying matches this year feature several Americans, among them Melanie Oudin, Ryan Harrison and Frances Tiafoe.

 

This year Tennis Channel’s typical Roland Garros schedule begins with live matches from 5 a.m. ET to approximately 3 p.m. ET, when play concludes with nightfall in Paris. From 3 p.m. to 5 a.m. ET, the network will show encore matches from the day, with the last four hours dedicated to the above-mentioned tournament outer courts.

 

Hour-long lead-in show Tennis Channel Live at Roland Garros will introduce each day’s competition on Sunday, May 22, and again from Tuesday, May 31, through the final day of play, Sunday, June 5. This Saturday, May 21, a special edition of Tennis Channel Live at Roland Garros will air from the stadium grounds at 12 p.m. ET, with a look at the scenarios in play as tennis’ clay-court season approaches its pinnacle. Also this week, with the release of the Roland Garros tournament draw Friday, May 20, Tennis Channel’s Racquet Bracket: Roland Garros will air live from the network’s Los Angeles studio at 8 p.m. ET and analyze the matchups and potential outcomes.

 

Broadband and Digital Coverage

The network’s Tennis Channel Plus digital subscription service will offer live and on-demand matches during Roland Garros, adding another 450 hours to Tennis Channel’s on-air coverage. Subscribers will be able to choose from five different courts on the first Sunday through second Monday of the event, four courts on both Tuesday and Wednesday of the second week, and three each on the second Thursday and Friday of the competition. All Tennis Channel Plus matches will be available for on-demand viewing following their conclusion, in addition to both singles championships.

 

Tennis Channel Plus is also adding 50 hours of live tournament-qualifying matches during the week leading into Roland Garros, beginning Monday, May 17, and running through Saturday, May 21, on the eve of the competition. Housed on the network’s

Tennis Channel Everywhere app and online, Tennis Channel Plus is available to everyone in the United States, regardless of whether they subscribe to Tennis Channel.

 

The Tennis Channel Everywhere app is free to all Apple and Android users and features videos, highlights and tennis updates. The app can be accessed on Apple TV, Roku TV and Amazon Fire devices as well. Most users who also subscribe to Tennis Channel are able watch the network whenever and wherever they want through the app at no extra charge.

 

Tennis Channel’s website, www.tennischannel.com, will provide real-time scoring, interactive tournament draws, daily highlights, interviews, features and segments.

 

Social media users can remain engaged with Tennis Channel on numerous platforms during Roland Garros, including: Facebook (www.facebook.com/tennischannel), Twitter (www.twitter.com/tennischannel), YouTube (www.youtube.com/tennischannel), Instagram (http://instagram.com/tennischannel) and Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/tennischannel).

 

Tennis Channel’s Live 2016 French Open Coverage

 

Date                                        Time (ET)                  Event                                     

Sunday, May 22                      4 a.m.-3 p.m.               First-Round Action

Monday, May 23                    5 a.m.-3 p.m.               First-Round Action

Tuesday, May 24                    5 a.m.-3 p.m.               First-Round Action

Wednesday, May 25               5 a.m.-3 p.m.               Second-Round Action

Thursday, May 26                   5 a.m.-3 p.m.               Second-Round Action

Friday, May 27                       5 a.m.-3 p.m.               Third-Round Action

Saturday, May 28                    5 a.m.-Noon                Third-Round Action

Sunday, May 29                      5 a.m.-Noon                Round-of-16 Action

Monday, May 30                    5 a.m.-3 p.m.               Round-of-16 Action

Tuesday, May 31                    7 a.m.-1 p.m.               Quarterfinals

Wednesday, June 1                 7 a.m.-1 p.m.               Quarterfinals

Thursday, June 2                     6 a.m.-2 p.m.               Mixed Doubles Final,

Women’s Singles Semifinals

Friday, June 3                         6 a.m.-11 a.m.             Men’s Singles Semifinal

 

Tennis Channel’s Roland Garros encore match telecasts include same-day replays of the men’s and women’s singles quarterfinals, semifinals and finals, and men’s and women’s doubles finals, as follows (ET):

 

Tuesday, May 31 – 1 p.m.-1 a.m.: men’s and women’s singles quarterfinals

Wednesday, June 1 – 1 p.m.-1 a.m.: men’s and women’s singles quarterfinals

Thursday, June 2 – 6 p.m.-11 a.m.: women’s singles semifinals

Friday, June 3 – 5 p.m.-8 a.m.: men’s singles semifinals

Saturday, June 4 – 2 p.m.-6 p.m., 8 p.m.-10 p.m., 1:30 a.m.-3:30 a.m.: women’s singles final; 6 p.m.-8 p.m., 10 p.m.-midnight, 3:30 a.m.-6 a.m.: men’s doubles final

Sunday, June 5 – 2 p.m.-5 p.m., 8 p.m.-11 p.m.: men’s singles final;

5 p.m.-8 p.m.: women’s doubles final

(Following the tournament, additional encores will air during the week of June 6.)

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Tennis Channel to Air All 21 of Serena Williams’ Major Title Victories Back-to-Back

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(May 12, 2016) LOS ANGELES – Just ahead of the French Open, Tennis Channel will air each one of Serena Williams’ 21 Grand Slam singles titles back-to-back during a marathon that begins on May 15, at 1 p.m. ET. With Roland Garros (commonly referred to as the French Open) approaching, Williams will have the opportunity to win her 22nd Grand Slam title, which would tie her with Steffi Graf for the most major singles titles in the Open Era. This marks the first time the network has aired this many Grand Slam singles title victories back-to-back for a single player.

On the eve of its Roland Garros coverage, Tennis Channel will showcase Serena’s dominance across three days, wrapping up on Tuesday, May 17 (full lineup below). Tennis Channel will take viewers from her very first singles title at age 17 to her most recent major championship at Wimbledon last year at the age of 33.

All 21 finals matches will also be available on Tennis Channel’s digital subscription service Tennis Channel Plus. Williams’ US Open championships will be available for free on the network’s app, Tennis Channel Everywhere.

“Serena is one of the most popular athletes in sports, and we wanted to offer our viewers a reminder of how she got here as she closes in on history,” said Jeremy Langer, vice president, programming, Tennis Channel.

Over the course of the marathon viewers will see many classic matches from Williams’ decorated career. These include:
Williams’ first Grand Slam victory over Martina Hingis at the 1999 US Open
Her five-straight finals wins over older sister Venus Williams
Her most recent stretch of dominance, winning a second “Serena Slam” starting with the 2014 US Open and culminating with her win at Wimbledon in 2015
During Williams’ historic career she has accumulated numerous accomplishments and records:
She is the only player to win three Grand Slam titles after saving match point during the tournament (2003 Australian Open, 2005 Australian Open and 2009 Wimbledon)
She has won 14 of her 21 Grand Slams in straight sets
She defeated her sister Venus five-straight times in finals and six overall in the majors
She has defeated her opponents in Grand Slam finals by a combined margin of 292-189 games
During her most recent “Serena Slam” she became the oldest player, at age 33, to hold all four titles concurrently
Tennis Channel’s Serena Williams Grand Slam Championship Marathon Lineup.
Matches begin at 1 p.m. Sunday, May 15. Full schedule:
tennischannel.com/tv-schedule/daily-view/

Event/Opponent

1999 US Open/Martina Hingis
2002 French Open/Venus Williams
2002 Wimbledon/Venus Williams
2002 US Open/Venus Williams
2003 Australian Open/Venus Williams
2003 Wimbledon/Venus Williams
2005 Australian Open/Lindsay Davenport
2007 Australian Open/Maria Sharapova
2008 US Open/Jelena Jankovic
2009 Australian Open/Dinara Safina
2009 Wimbledon/Venus Williams
2010 Australian Open/Justine Henin
2010 Wimbledon/Vera Zvonareva
2012 Wimbledon/Agnieszka Radwanska
2012 US Open/Victoria Azarenka
2013 French Open/Maria Sharapova
2013 US Open/Victoria Azarenka
2014 US Open/Caroline Wozniacki
2015 Australian Open/Maria Sharapova
2015 French Open/Lucie Safarova
2015 Wimbledon/Garbine Muguruza

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Tennis Channel Veteran Randy Master Joins Corporate Partnerships Department at Connecticut Open

 

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(March 31, 2016) The Connecticut Open announced on Thursday that Randy Master has joined its corporate partnerships department. Master will be responsible for leveraging the success of the tournament, its WTA player field, Men’s Legends event, extensive domestic and international television coverage and 501(c)(3) not-for-profit status to garner regional, national and worldwide partners.

 

Master comes to Connecticut Open after spending ten years at Tennis Channel, most recently serving as the vice president, director of East Coast ad sales. He worked closely with major consumer brands such as Mercedes-Benz, Rolex, Esurance, FedEx and Xerox and was recognized for being a top revenue producer at Tennis Channel throughout his entire career there.

 

“Randy’s expertise and ability to cultivate and maintain meaningful partnerships and opportunities with internationally recognized brands will be a great asset to the tournament,” said Anne Worcester, tournament director, Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies. “We are delighted to welcome Randy and his nearly two decades of experience to our team. We look forward to his contribution to the tournament in 2016 and beyond.”

 

Prior to Tennis Channel, Master worked in the print industry as editor at Tennis Week Magazine before rising through the ranks to become executive director of business development at IMG Media and then finally cementing himself as publisher of Tennis Week Magazine and tennisweek.com.

 

Master’s passion for tennis comes from a lifetime involvement with the sport. Master was a highly ranked junior tennis player in the Mid-Atlantic region before embarking on his college journey to the University of Georgia and then playing varsity tennis at Virginia Commonwealth University. While earning his Master’s degree in government and foreign affairs at Lehigh University, Master also served as Assistant Varsity Tennis Coach for both the men’s and women’s programs.

 

He currently serves on the Board of Directors of New York Junior Tennis and Learning (NYJTL) and is a member of the Steering Committee of the International Tennis Hall of Fame’s Annual Legends Ball.

 

The 2016 Connecticut Open will take place August 19 through August 27 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale in New Haven.

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Sinclair Acquires Tennis Channel

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From Tennis Channel: Baltimore, MD (January 27, 2016) – Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc. (Nasdaq: SBGI) (the “Company” or “Sinclair”) announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to purchase the stock of Tennis Channel (“Tennis”) for $350 million. The Company will benefit, however, from over $200 million of Tennis net operating losses which Sinclair will be able to carry forward to reduce future tax payments, the present value which Sinclair estimates to be worth approximately $65 million. Tennis Channel is the only 24-hour, television-based multimedia destination dedicated to both the professional sport and tennis lifestyle. Tennis, which includes established over-the-top subscription services, TC Plus and TV Everywhere, has rights to 90% of all the televised tennis in the U.S. and features comprehensive coverage including the top 100 tournaments in the sport and more. The Company has already negotiated agreements with a number of multi-channel video programming distributors (MVPDs) which, following Sinclair’s acquisition, will increase carriage of Tennis from approximately 30 million homes to approximately 50 million homes. The transaction, which is subject to antitrust regulatory approval and other customary closing conditions, is expected to close during the first quarter of 2016 and will be funded through cash on hand and a draw on the Company’s revolving line of credit.

“The Company expects 2015 pro forma operating cash flow for the contracted subscriber increases (including the additional license fees and advertising revenues resulting from such increased carriage), to be approximately $60 million, the synergies of which will be phased in over 18 months, and resulting in a 2015 pro forma purchase multiple, including the present value of the NOLs, of 4.8x and approximately $0.40 of incremental cash flow per share,” commented Chris Ripley, CFO of Sinclair.

“Tennis Channel is an established property with high-quality content and advertisers, and is vastly under-compensated and under-distributed relative to the value it brings to its viewers. It was the only independently-owned major sports network left, and we knew we could unlock value through a tuck-in acquisition,” commented David Smith, President and Chief Executive Officer of Sinclair. “The additional subscriber base, which has already been contracted, equates to the creation of approximately $200 million of incremental value at closing. Furthermore, we expect this combination to create additional linear and OTT viewership and advertising growth, and we have the added benefit of continued involvement of Ken Solomon, CEO of Tennis Channel, and a seasoned programming executive.”
“We greatly appreciate the commitment from many of our distribution partners to substantially increase their carriage of Tennis Channel, and we expect that a number of upcoming MVPD negotiations to result in further carriage and Tennis subscriber penetration,” stated Barry Faber, Sinclair’s Executive Vice President and General Counsel. “Nothing is more valuable to video distributors than high quality, live sports, and we expect the increased carriage of Tennis will be well-received by their subscribers. We also expect to leverage our broadcast platform to promote Tennis Channel, which we anticipate will result in increased viewership, further adding to the channel’s value in attracting and retaining subscribers.”

“In Sinclair we have found the perfect owner-partner to accelerate scaling the Tennis Channel brand and our sport’s expanding fan-base to the next level. Sinclair’s unique size and position in the media ecosystem will facilitate significant distribution growth towards parity with our competitive set and expand our brand’s assets and unique value as the go-to destination for all things tennis in the U.S. and beyond,” commented Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO of the Tennis Channel. “The larger platform will immediately help develop incremental advertising and sponsorship business and puts us in a great position to enhance our already comprehensive rights portfolio domestically as well as develop the brand internationally. We also intend to utilize Sinclair’s advanced branding capabilities, digital expertise and significant broadcast asset platform to drive increased awareness for both Tennis Channel and our successful subscription-based OTT platform, ‘Tennis Channel Plus.’ Our management team is more excited than ever about the future for Tennis Channel under Sinclair’s ownership and anxious to grow as part of such a visionary and transformative company. This is a great day for both the professional sport and the amateur tennis community and most importantly for the viewers we serve.”

LionTree Advisors acted as financial advisor to Tennis Channel in connection with the transaction. Evolution Media Capital also acted as an advisor to Tennis Channel.

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Tennis Channel’s Live 2016 Australian Open Schedule

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Tennis Channel‘s Live 2016 Australian Open Match Schedule
(Men’s/Women’s Singles Unless Otherwise Specified)
 
Date                                        Time (ET)                  Event                                     
Monday, Jan. 18                     7 p.m.-9 p.m.                   First-Round Action
Tuesday, Jan. 19                     7 p.m.-9 p.m.                   Second-Round Action
Wednesday, Jan. 20                7 p.m.-9 p.m.                    Second-Round Action
Thursday, Jan. 21                    7 p.m.-11 p.m.                 Third-Round Action
Friday, Jan. 22                       7 p.m.-9 p.m.                   Third-Round Action
Saturday, Jan. 23                    7 p.m.-9 p.m.                   Round-of-16 Action
Sunday, Jan. 24                       7 p.m.-9 p.m.                    Round-of-16 Action
Monday, Jan. 25                     7 p.m.-9 p.m.                    Quarterfinals
Tuesday, Jan. 26                    7 p.m.-9 p.m.                  Quarterfinals
Wednesday, Jan. 27                7 p.m.-9:30 p.m.               TBA
Thursday, Jan. 28                   11 p.m.-3:30 a.m.              Mixed-Doubles Semifinal and
                                                                                          Women’s Doubles Final
Sunday, Jan. 31                       12 a.m.-2a.m.                   Mixed-Doubles Final
This year, Australian Open encore match coverage on Tennis Channel will include same-day replays of the men’s and women’s singles third-round, semifinals and finals as well as the men’s and women’s doubles finals, as follows (ET):
Saturday, Jan. 23 – 7 a.m.-9 a.m.: men’s and women’s third round singles
Sunday, Jan. 24 – 7 a.m.-9 a.m.: men’s and women’s round-of-16 singles
Thursday, Jan. 28 – 6 a.m.-2 p.m.: men’s and women’s semifinals;
                                6 p.m.-10 p.m.: men and women’s semifinals
Friday, Jan. 29 – 6 a.m.-2 p.m.: men’s and women’s semifinals;
                           6 p.m.- 3 a.m.: men’s semifinal and women’s doubles final
Saturday, Jan. 30 – 5:30 a.m.-8 a.m.: men’s doubles final;
                               11 a.m.-8 p.m.: men’s doubles final and men’s semifinal
                               8 p.m.-12 a.m.: women’s final and men’s doubles final
Sunday, Jan. 31 – 6:30 a.m.-9 a.m.: women’s final;
                              2 p.m.-8 p.m.: women’s final and men’s semifinals
     8 p.m.-12 a.m.: men’s final
Tennis Channel’s Australian Open Today Schedule (all times ET)
Tennis Channels’ Australian Open Today includes encore match coverage, highlights, interviews and a general review of the activity that took place during the tournament while most of America was sleeping the night before. The show will run daily from Monday, Jan. 18, through Wednesday, Jan. 27 – 10 days in all – before the network replaces it with encore semifinal and final coverage as the tournament winds down.
On the opening Monday of the tournament, Australian Open Today will air from 7 a.m.-12:30 p.m., and be immediately followed by an encore replay from 12:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. The following four days, Tuesday, Jan. 19, through Friday, Jan. 22, the show will broadcast from 7 a.m.-3 p.m. On Saturday, Jan. 23, it will be on Tennis Channel from 12 p.m.-6 p.m.
 
During the second week of the Australian Open, Australian Open Today runs from 1p.m.-6p.m. Sunday, Jan. 24 and 6:30 a.m.-3 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 25. The next two days, Tuesday, Jan. 26 and Wednesday, Jan. 27, the show will broadcast from 6 a.m.-3 p.m.
Digital Coverage
Returning for the 2016 Australian Open, Tennis Channel’s digital subscription service, Tennis Channel Plus will offer expanded tournament coverage live from Melbourne, with approximately 90 hours of live digital coverage. Fans will be able to catch even more action from Down Under than the network is able to provide on its air. Available on the Tennis Channel Everywhere app to all Apple and Android users, regardless of whether or not they subscribe to Tennis Channel, the service will offer daylong coverage of a single court during the first eight days of the tournament. It will also supplement the network’s televised Australian Open coverage this year with daily highlights, interviews and other segments from Australian Open Today.
Outside Tennis Channel Plus, most viewers who get Tennis Channel are able to take the Australian Open on-the-go with them live on their mobile devices through the Tennis Channel Everywhere app at no additional cost. Simple subscription authentication with select distribution partners enables the app’s TV Everywhere function, and allows fans to tune into the network’s round-the-clock coverage from Melbourne throughout the workday back in the United States.
Tennis Channel’s website, www.tennischannel.com, will continue to offer its usual Down Under slate of Australian Open Today segments,video highlights, interviews, real-time scoring, an interactive draw and the network’s Racquet Bracket tournament prediction game. Visitors can enter the channel’s 2017 Australian Open sweepstakes, or browse special Australian Open columns.
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Davis Cup Final Day 1 – Great Britain and Belgium Level at 1-1

 

(November 27, 2015) Great Britain’s Andy Murray evened the Davis Cup final at 1-1 on Friday in Ghent with a 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 win over Belgian’s Ruben Bemelmans. The world No. 2 rebounded from 2-4 down the third set to close out the match against the world No. 108.

The first match of the day saw top Belgian player David Goffin win his first–ever match coming back from two sets down to defeat No. 100 Kyle Edmund 3-6, 1-6, 6-2, 6-1, 6-0. Edmund was making his Davis Cup debut.

The Davis cup rookie ran up a quick two set lead over Goffin, over powering the Belgian with well-placed shots and aggressive groundstrokes.

The turning point in the match came in third game of the third set when Goffin broke Edmund’s serve for 2-1. The No. 16 player in the world won 16 of the next 18 games to claim the victory. Edmund let errors creep into his game and was not as consistent with his serve as he was in the first two sets.

“He played every forehand really heavy from the beginning,” Goffin said on–court after the match. “It was tough for me to find my timing on the baseline. I knew I needed to take my chance, and I did well to finish the match quickly in the fourth and fifth sets.”

Edmund said that in the fourth set he was having problems physically and that his stamina did not hold up.

Murray who leveled the tie with his win in the second match of the day in the Flanders Expo, is now 7-0 in singles rubbers this year. Only John McEnroe and Mats Wilander have ever been a perfect 8-0 in ties during a David Cup season.

Saturday will see the doubles rubber played between Belgium and Great Britain.

Belgium’s King Philippe and his wife, Queen Mathilde, were part of the 13,000 in attendance at the Flanders Expo in Belgium.

Belgium is seeking its first Davis Cup, while Great Britain wants to claim its 10th.

 

DAVIS CUP FINAL

BELGIUM level with GREAT BRITAIN 1-1

Venue: Flanders Expo, Ghent (clay – indoors)
David Goffin (BEL) d. Kyle Edmund (GBR) 36 16 62 61 60

Andy Murray (GBR) d. Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) 63 62 75

Kimmer Coppejans/Steve Darcis (BEL) v Andy Murray/Jamie Murray (GBR)

David Goffin (BEL) v Andy Murray (GBR)

Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) v Kyle Edmund (GBR)

 

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Great Britain Takes On Belgium in Davis Cup Final

 

(November 26, 2015) In 2013 Andy Murray won Wimbledon to end a 77-year drought for British men at the All England Club. The Scot hopes to help collect the Davis Cup title for Great Britain for the first time since 1936 this weekend against Belgium in Ghent this weekend. In 1936, Fred Perry won the decisive singles rubber to give Great Britain the victory over Australia 3-2.

Belgium was a losing finalist to Great Britain in 1904.

The best-of-five match series final between the two countries begins on Friday in the Flanders Expo on clay, with a pair of singles matches which pits players who have never faced each other in head-to-head competition. Top Belgium player, David Goffin ranked 14th in the world will play Kyle Edmund, ranked No. 100. The 20-year-old Edmund, who was born in South Africa, will be making his Davis Cup debut.

The second match on Friday will feature world No. 2 and British No. 1 Andy Murray against No. 108 Ruben Bemelmans. Bemelmans received the nod over No. 84 Steve Darcis to play the second rubber. Belgium’s Captain Johan van Herck has the option of changing players over the weekend.

Murray is not only seeking his first Davis Cup title, but he is trying to become only the third player to win all eight singles matches in a Davis Cup year since the World Group began in 1981.

Due to the Paris attacks and threats in Brussels, security in Ghent has been intensified.

The International Tennis Federation put out a security statement earlier in the week:

Update for those attending the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final at Flanders Expo

 

The ITF and Royal Belgian Tennis Federation (RBTF), in consultation with the relevant officials and our risk assessment and security advisers, are closely monitoring the situation in Belgium and specifically in Ghent. As of today there are no changes to the previously published start times for the Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Final between Belgium and Great Britain.

 

We are taking every necessary step to ensure the safety of the teams, the spectators, the media and all working staff.

 

As you would expect, a number of specific, additional security measures have been put in place for this weekend’s tie.

 

In particular please note:

 

  • This is a sold out event. There will not be any tickets on sale at the venue and anyone without a ticket will not be allowed access to the venue area.

 

  • Additional security measures will be in place at all entrances to the venue and will apply to all ticket holders, staff members and visitors.

 

  • Entry into the event will take longer than usual. Please keep this in mind when planning your arrival to the Flanders Expo. The gates will open two hours in advance of each day’s start time.

 

  • Bags and backpacks will not be permitted in the Flanders Expo. Ticket holders will be asked to check any bags into available off-site storage facilities.

 

  • No food or drink will be allowed into the arena. A full selection of refreshments will be available in venue.

 

  • For those travelling into Belgium for the tie we advise that you liaise directly with your flight or train operator for up to date information on any changes to departure times or protocols.

 

Any additional updates on the tie including any changes to entry procedures for fans with tickets will be made via:

 

RBTF website: www.tennisvlaanderen.be/davis-cup-security

 

The ITF president Dave Haggerty said that they want to make sure the Davis Cup players, fans and staff are safe.

For Great Britain, this will be their 18th final as they look to win their 10th Davis Cup title. They lost their last final in 1972 against the United States. Belgium has never won Davis Cup, losing to Great Britain in their only final in 1904 5-0 at Wimbledon.

 

This is the 12th meeting between Belgium and Great Britain, but only their second since 1963. Britain leads 7-4. Belgium won their last meeting 4-1 in Europe/Africa Zone Group I in Glasgow in 2012, with 3 members of the Belgium team nominated for this year’s Final – Ruben Bemelmans, Steve Darcis and David Goffin – all winning rubbers. Great Britain has not beaten Belgium since 1963, when it won 5-0 on clay in Brussels.

 

 

DAVIS CUP FINAL LINE-UP

BELGIUM v GREAT BRITAIN

Venue: Flanders Expo, Ghent (clay – indoors)
Friday

David Goffin (BEL) v Kyle Edmund (GBR)

Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) v Andy Murray (GBR)

 

Saturday

Kimmer Coppejans/Steve Darcis (BEL) v Andy Murray/Jamie Murray (GBR)

 

Sunday

David Goffin (BEL) v Andy Murray (GBR)

Ruben Bemelmans (BEL) v Kyle Edmund (GBR)

 

Related Article: Tennis Channel to Air Davis Cup Final

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Martina Navratilova Talks French Open on Tennis Channel Media Conference Call

Navratilova

(May 20, 2015) Ahead of the French Open, which begins on Sunday, May 24, Tennis Channel held a media conference call with tennis Hall of Famer Martina Navratilova, who serves as the lead women’s analyst for the network.

Here is the transcript of the conference call, courtesy of the Tennis Channel and ASAPsports:

There’s a lot of increased scrutiny of late for even for minor tournaments. Time was that there was almost no attention paid to them and all attention was paid to the majors. And do you think that that scrutiny on these tune‑ups heightens the stakes for when the majors come out, like Roland‑Garros?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I’m not sure I understand the question. You’re saying there’s too much media attention on the Grand Slams and not on anything else?

No, I think when you were playing tennis, there wasn’t a lot of attention, media attention ‑‑ they didn’t broadcast minor tennis events.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, it’s the other way around. It’s the other way around, actually. In my opinion we had, it was the Tour that really buttressed the Grand Slams and certainly the players, we didn’t even play some Grand Slams because the Tour was the more important bit of the calendar. And it was only really in the late, maybe, ’80s and the ’90s that the Grand Slams became so powerful and players would schedule their whole year around slams. Nobody would even think of missing a slam now.

And those are the four big focal points of the year, whereas in my time it was Wimbledon and U.S. Open and the Tour as a whole and then the year‑ending championships was the third biggest tournament of the year. So I think the media did pay attention to the other tournaments and certainly the players were thinking that the other tournaments were more important, perhaps, than they are now.

And why was that?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Why? Because there was more prize money in the regular tournaments than Grand Slams. Once the Grand Slams got bigger and got more money, more people paid attention to where the money is, basically. And also more worldwide television rights and media attention and all that.

So one kind of followed the other. I’m not sure what came first, the chicken and the egg thing, but we would get more money for, I think the prize money at the year‑end championships was like twice as much and that was for one week than what you would get in a Grand Slam for two weeks. You can do some research on the prize money, but it was a lot more on the regular tour.

I made more money winning a tournament in Dallas, Virginia Slims of Dallas, than I would at a Grand Slam ‑‑ than I would Wimbledon. When I won Wimbledon in ’78 I got, I think, $20,000 for winning it.

 

I suppose, Martina, that the focal point coming into the French Open is the prospects of Rafa Nadal. What have you seen this year in Rafa, what is he lacking that he hasn’t in the past and has age finally taken its toll on him?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I don’t know how much of it is ‑‑ I think it’s a little bit of everything. He seems to me a little bit less physically looking imposing. And I don’t know if it’s just my imagination. Just doesn’t seem to be as muscular as he was five or six years ago.

 

But he’s still in the prime of his physical life, maybe he trains differently maybe because of his injuries he can’t train as hard as he used to, but not sure.

 

Most of all I think it’s the other players are playing better and hitting a lot more top spin on the ball, hitting the ball harder, which does not give him the time to run around his backhand and dictate with the forearm, he has to kind of be more in the middle of the court.

 

He can’t park himself on the right side of the court. And also by his own admission, he gets more nervous now. And when he does get more nervous, his forehand goes shorter. Even when he does get to hit the forehand, he doesn’t hit it as deep, with as much, with as much depth and maybe power.

 

I’m not sure. You would have to kind of figure out the revolutions per minute. But I would bet dollars to donuts that the other players are using more spin than they did two years ago, 10 years ago, certainly. So that could be a combination of everything.

 

Was his effectiveness on clay a factor of how much top spin he could put on the ball and the fact that the ball dug in so great?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: His movement and the top spin, yeah. Because of the top spin, players had a hard time attacking it and getting on top of the ball. And once they get on the defense, it was really hard to get off it. And his unbelievable speed around the court.

 

But do you still think he’s anywhere near the prime of his career at this point?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, it could be that he’s just having a bad year or bad six months, whatever. We don’t know if he’s 100 percent healthy because only he knows that and his team.

 

So people tend to write people off too soon I think in my opinion. I mean, Roger Federer said himself, until Rafa loses at the French he still has to be a favorite. You can’t just throw out the last 10 years based on the last few months.

 

But certainly he’s, I’m sure, feeling most vulnerable. And he’s looking most vulnerable. And that gives the other guys confidence when they play him. Before it was, like, I don’t want to get embarrassed playing Rafa and now they think they have a chance. That’s a huge edge to them. Now he’s forced to play even better to beat the same guy.

 

So it’s kind of a nasty spiral that happens. But I still wouldn’t write him off. I mean, you can’t. You just cannot. Three out of five is a different animal as well. It’s harder to keep up that kind of intensity and physical play that it takes to beat Rafa over three out of five sets as opposed to two out of three ‑‑ and gives him some room for his own game as well.

 

I know we don’t have a draw yet, but who do you favor as winning on the men’s side and the women’s side in singles?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think so much will depend on the draw in both of these. But particularly on the men’s side, with Rafa, I believe he’s ranked 7. So he could be playing these top three players in the quarters as opposed to the semis or finals.

That makes it difficult for whosever quarter he lands in and everything else how it plays out as well. Andy Murray now is looking like one of the favorites as well. Novak obviously is a huge favorite to win the event. But I’m sure that he’s not thinking that way, not yet. Not as long as Rafael Nadal is in the tournament.

 

So it’s really going to depend on who gets hot and how the draw plays out. The same time you only have to play seven guys. You don’t have to play everybody. But still the draw may dictate a lot in how the conditions are, the balls are pretty light. But conditions can get heavy.

 

So all of that will play out and that’s the beauty of it. We really don’t know. But all in all, if you just look at how this year has played out, Djokovic, it would be hard to, again, bet against Djokovic. And the same thing on the women’s side, Serena Williams, even though she’s had a odd run up to the French.   In years past, the run up the Grand Slam really had nothing to do with how she did at that Grand Slam.

 

So you still have to go with the world’s number one ‑‑ Novak and Serena.

 

Can you tell me what you miss from the era that you played tennis, what you miss on the tennis scene now?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It’s just a different time. You get the pluses and minuses. I do miss more of the clash of styles.

There was more variety in styles with the typical baseliner and the all‑court players and then the more of the serve and volleyers, attacking players. It’s now a more homogenous look, but at the same time on the women’s side particularly I see more variety than they’ve had five years ago, 10 years ago. The guys have been there for a while.

 

But the women, I think, were more homogenous in that, for example, I keep going back to the final between Kuznetsova and Dementieva in the 2004 U.S. Open final. And I think there was one volley, one drop shot and three slices the whole match.

And now, you know, you get that in one rally. So you have a lot more variety with the actual play, which makes it more fun. I think the spectators are in for better treats nowadays with more variety.

People still play similarly but there’s more variety within that.

 

Still play similarly to when you were playing ‑‑

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: No, no, they play similar to each other. They play similar style. More of a ‑‑ I mean, there are two basic styles. Ones that really try to play big babe tennis, as Mary Carillo calls it, and then there are the counter puncher’s. But within the big babe tennis you see a lot more people using slices and coming into the net, putting the volley away. And same with the counter punchers, now they just don’t play defense, if they can get on offense they will do so.

 

And again a lot more slices, a lot more drop shots. You see Maria Sharapova, she’s hitting drop hands from the backhand and the forehand. She never hit a drop shot 10 years ago, now she uses it very well.

 

She hits them from the baseline.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Drop shots are usually hit from the baseline. But she’s usually in an offensive position so she plays them at the right time. And she’s hitting between volley. You won’t see chip and charge, but you will see her, as soon as she hits a deep, good ball, she’ll move in to see if she can knock off the next ball in the air, but she’ll hit swinging volleys rather than punch volleys that we used to hit. But still hitting volleys.

 

Were you asked about Maria Sharapova in general and what you think her chances are coming in?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, obviously great. And they’re always improved when she ‑‑ well, with Maria, obviously it’s a case whether she has to play Serena Williams or not because she hasn’t beat her in 10 years. But she’s been the best clay court player the last three years, except she hadn’t been able to beat Serena, but she’s beaten everybody else and has the most consistent record on clay than everybody. So she has to be one of the favorites. But it always comes with a caveat ‑‑ what happens if she plays Serena? Serena particularly now is kind of an unknown because of the run‑up that she’s had, not really finishing tournaments or didn’t finish two and one she lost in the semis. So it’s hard to tell.

 

But Serena always comes out playing her best tennis in the slams. So, yeah, absolutely Maria has to be one of the favorites. She must be pretty well after Rome, kept playing better and better tennis. Although, also the matches were pretty close, particularly the semifinal in Rome. Could have gone either way.

 

What is it with her and Serena, do you think ‑‑ how much of it is mental and how much of it is just her game, and what do you think she would have to do to finally overcome Serena if they were to meet at the end there?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: She would have to serve extremely well, because that’s what Serena always has on, all things being equal, which they’re not; but Serena serves, wins so many more points off her serve, whereas with Maria the serve has been more of a ‑‑ it’s either neutral or it can even be a negative for her starting the points against Serena.

 

So she needs to serve really well. But she has been serving better in Rome, particularly she was hitting her second serve in the high 90s, her second serve was coming in.

So she was getting on the offense with her second serve, never mind the first serve. But Serena does everything a little bit better than Maria or some things a lot better, the serving is a lot better.

 

And the ground stroke she can now sustain a rally, 10 shots, 20 shots, and then go for the ‑‑ when she goes for the jugular she hits it just a little bit harder than Maria.

 

And Maria’s foot speed hurts her against Serena. She’s gotten so much better. She’s quick enough against most players. But she can’t defend as well. Serena defends better than Maria if she has to. And her foot speed is better around the court. And that hurts Maria. She needs to be on offense. But with Serena she has a hard time getting on offense because Serena tees off so early in the rally, whether the serve or return of serve.

 

And also Serena, clearly, plays her best Sundays against Maria Sharapova. She totally rises to the occasion where she might be a bit listless against other opponents or maybe give them a set, maybe not the match, but give them a set. With Maria, she doesn’t give away points, never mind sets. She’s always fired up.   You can see how badly both of them want it.

 

In following up on that, that rivalry seems to really be one, we always talk about how the game, whether it’s men or women, that rivalries is such a big deal in tennis. And this Serena/Maria one is one that still carries after so many years. Would you agree it’s one of the best rivalries in women’s tennis?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: It’s amazing that it carries because it’s so one‑sided. But it’s the personality of the two players involved that makes it so compelling, no matter what the result.

So it’s great for tennis. I mean, tennis is such a one‑on‑one battle that the rivalries are an essential part of that.

 

You want to identify with the people. You want to identify with the personalities. You want to identify with their game, and the only way to do that is if there’s a rivalry going on.

 

I mean, people love Rafa Nadal and they love Roger Federer, but they always fall into one camp more than the other, and will cheer for their player against the other, no matter what.

So it’s funny. And obviously you have that with Williams and Sharapova for different reasons. It’s just been a one‑sided result for the most part.

 

What is the lifetime, is it like 17‑2 or something?

 

 

I’d have to look it up, but that sounds close. It’s not close at all, yeah.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I mean, it’s been 10 years, but it hasn’t been that much matches. I think 15 matches in a row. I think ‑‑ I don’t have the numbers in front of me. But it’s over a long period of time.

 

I beat Chris Evert at one point 13 times in a row, but it was like in a two‑, two‑and‑a‑half‑year period. It didn’t seem that insurmountable. It just came in a closer chunk of time. It think it’s more difficult for Maria to deal with it because it’s been over such a long length of time.

 

 

She’s probably thinking: Sheesh, I was so young the last time I beat her.

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yeah.

 

Could you just maybe pick a couple of dark horses on the men’s and the women’s side and kind of like skim off the top, the Djokovic, Nadal, Murray, on the other side, Sharapova and Williams, could you just pick out a few players who you think have a chance to ‑‑

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: To win the whole thing? That’s a tall order. There’s a lot of players that can beat anybody on a given day. But to go all the way? I guess on the men’s side, Murray. Maybe not that dark, because he’s, what, 3 or 4 in the world.

And maybe Berdych also. He’s been playing some good ball but seems to falter still against the top guys. But he certainly looks fit and very focused and on a given day can compete against anybody.

 

And for just upsets, Kyrgios. Kyrgios, with that serve, can give anybody fits. I’m pretty sure the top players don’t really want to see him too close to them in the draw because he’s a flashy and can be an extremely dominating player the way he plays.

But this is clay, so hopefully it shouldn’t happen. But never know with him.

 

And on the women’s side, again dark horse, Halep can’t be a dark horse, she was in the finals last year. But she hasn’t broken through yet. So dark horse would be anybody to me that hasn’t won a Grand Slam.

 

I’m sorry?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: To me, a dark horse would be anybody that hasn’t won a Grand Slam, because then you haven’t done it yet, so we’re not really sure whether it’s going to happen or not.

So Halep would be in that category, certainly, but she’s 3 in the world. So, again, it’s hard to imagine somebody outside of top 10 going all the way on either women or men. They would just have to beat too many quality players.

 

I mean, there could be an opening in the draw where people kind of somehow scrape their way to the semis. But that’s hard to predict. It’s easier to predict a little bit once the draw comes out.

But it’s been such an up‑and‑down lead‑up to the tournament on the women’s side with Serena not finishing a tournament the last three she played, lost in the semis and defaulted the other two, correct?

 

And then you have Petra Kvitova winning in Madrid, playing amazing tennis, and then losing to Suárez Navarro easily. Suárez Navarro given that she can beat anybody, but I don’t think she has the firepower to go all the way, but you could see her in the finals as well.

 

And then there’s a player like Caroline Garcia on a given day can beat anybody. What’s the ‑‑ Pliskova, another Czech, who has got a big game. Perhaps not so suited for clay but grew up on the stuff.

 

She can hang with anybody. So it’s hard to tell but you still have to go with the favorites. Serena and Novak, obviously.

 

 

You were running off some names on the women’s side as possibilities. But one of them isn’t Sloane Stephens. Do you think she’s taken a step or two back from where she was about a year and a half ago?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: I think she’s moving back the right direction now. It seems to me since she’s been working with Nick ‑‑ God, I have a blank now ‑‑ the lefty. Nick Saviano. Complete blank. I see his face.

 

Since she’s been working back with Nick she’s been playing better tennis. I think she’s feeling more the urgency of not taking her time developing but, rather, making it happen quicker rather than slower.

 

So, yeah, she doesn’t have the cache and the promise maybe she held two or three years ago, but I think it’s still there if she just believes in it. On clay, her game does not transfer well on clay with her big forehand and a good serve.

 

It’s better suited for hard courts or grass. And also I’m not sure how well she moves on the clay. She’s such an amazing mover that on the clay she gets a little hampered because she can’t really push off that fast. I think, again, she’s better on grass or a hard court. But certainly looks like to me that she’s going in the right direction again, which is good to see.

 

Can you talk about the French Open and kind of what you love about that tournament in comparison to the other majors and other tournaments and what you think makes that event special in your eyes?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: The intimacy of it all. You can really get close to the players there, and it’s a smaller venue. So there’s a lot more going on within any area and you just feel, I think, the fans more there because when the Philippe‑Chatrier Court opens up and match finishes, everybody spills out and it gets pretty crowded.

 

And, of course, the red clay. It’s the only big tournament, well, the only slam that’s on red clay. And just the color makes you smile, you know.

So it’s one of a kind. And you’re in Paris. I mean, how tough can it be?

 

One off‑beat question. Does that red clay come out in the laundry, like from your socks and ‑‑ or are all the outfits ‑‑

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Anytime the players fall on the ground, we say, oops, there went that skirt; there went that shirt. Socks, you throw out, because when you sweat and you get the clay on it, it’s goodbye.

 

So when that tournament’s over, everything just goes in the garbage?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Yep.

 

And the shoes, too?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: Well, the shoes, you go on the grass. So, yes, they get pretty ‑‑ I mean, you may save them for other clay court tournaments. But most of the time the players, the shoes last a couple of days. That’s it.

I used to go through two pairs of shoes a week. I think the guys change them every match. And now maybe the women do, too. Depends on the kind of shoe. But they’re gone after a week, for sure. So definitely don’t save those.

Wondered if there was some great laundry detergent that got that clay out?

MARTINA NAVRATILOVA: If it’s there, I don’t know it.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you.

 

Related article:

Tennis Channel Expands French Open Coverage with Two New Shows

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Murray seals the deal as GB win their first round tie over the USA again

Murray UnderArmour

(March 8, 2015) GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – If at all possible the applause the loudest it has been for the three days, as the live fourth rubber set up a thrilling conclusion to the Great Britain-US Davis Cup tie.

 

With a vocal John Isner thundering down six aces in just his second service game, before he closed it out, you had a feeling we could be going to very long tie-breaks. After all if Isner hits six aces he would expect to be up by a couple of games at least, and not requiring that effort just to nab his second.

 

In fact it was the flat-footed-sounding Isner that flirted with the first break-point opportunities dulling the enthusiasm of the Glasgow crowd for just a little. There would be more drama to come in the eighth game as Murray put the crowd’s loyalty through its paces delivering them two double-faults and fending off three break points before finally grinding out a hold.

 

Isner might be one big unit but he showed early on how he could keep pace in the kinds of rallies that Murray likes to use. And it’s not as if the Brit was struggling with his movement, even throwing in one of those drop shots at a crunch moment for an audacious winner.

 

But there was no denying that Isner was beginning to get his eye in. He was less vocal and less slap-footed around the court now as he sensed he could turn the screw. Pushing Andy Murray every step of the way as the Brit was serving at 4-5, Isner forced 3 set points as the weak second Murray serve presented very hittable opportunities. Yet he could not take advantage as Murray dredged up serves to get him out of trouble.

 

We got to a first set tie-break, but not quite in the manner we thought, and soe terrible shot-making from Isner put GB in front by just enough to keep the advantage, and a collective sigh of relief from 7,700 people.

 

The second set saw Murray hold his serve much more comfortably, and even if Isner was getting a look at his second serve, much of the American’s pace on his whipping forehand was tempered as Murray earned his first break point on the Isner serve after one hour and 25 minutes. Even then, Murray showed him no less than three looks at a second serve as he worked to consolidate the break, to no avail for the American.

Two sets up, the question was would this go the distance, or even creep over four sets? Again there were moments when it looked as though Isner would steal the upper hand as Murray squandered his challenges and sent a few pleading looks the way of the umpire as Isner’s serves thundered past him.

 

Pushing up to a tie-break again, there was a huge crescendo of noise which, if anything, was louder than Murray’s entry into the arena. If the first mini-break was enough to get hopes up, as Murray surged ahead to finish it with an ace to book the British team into the quarter-finals. Final score 7-6(4), 6-3, 7-6(4).

 

Interviewed on court after jumping around with members of the team, Murray did the honours in thanking the crowd as well as hinting that perhaps it might be time for Tennis Scotland to use grass for something other than football.

 

“The whole week has been so much fun. This is one of the most special atmospheres I’ve ever played in so I would like to say a big thank you to all these guys,“ Murray said.

“With a home tie against France in the summer I’d imagine we would try to put that on a grass court. I don’t know how many they have in Glasgow but if they could lay one that would be great as the atmosphere has been incredible.”

“To be in the quarterfinals for a second year when it hasn’t happened for so long is incredible.”

Last year the British team also knocked out the USA in the first round of Davis Cup on a clay court in San Diego.

 

“This is a deserved win,” Murray said. “The attitude of everyone was excellent. Everyone fought extremely hard, especially when we were behind in the matches, no one gave up. Every person played extremely hard.

“It was huge momentum for us in winning James’ (Ward) match. We were also so close yesterday to winning 3-0, so I felt some pressure today to close it out. The way John approached the match made it difficult.”

Asked about Great Britain’s chances to win Davis Cup, US Captain Jim Courier said:

“When you have a great champion like Andy, against most teams, they should feel like they are up 2-0 going in. The way their doubles team played was impressive. Bob and Mike played unbelievably well yesterday and they were pushed to the wire. It only takes three to win.”

So where does the US Davis Cup team go from here?

“Our team changes, ‘ Courier said.  “You always try to make some adjustments and go forward. We play again in September, so I have time to assess everything. It takes time to process defeats like this and try to figure out what you can learn from it and improve going forward.”

 

With the next tie straight after Wimbledon, debates are already taking place as to where possible venues could be, as the prospect of holding an outside tournament in an English summer against the French could be intriguing.

The Davis Cup quarter-finals will take place between July 17 – 19.

As for the United States, they will play for a chance to stay in the World Group the week after the US Open concludes in September in the World Group Play-offs.

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

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