Tennis’ first major tournament of the year starts tonight in Melbourne in Australia. On the men’s side, defending champion Novak Djokovic hopes to repeat once again. One hurdle in Rafael Nadal won’t be in Australia this year as he’s recovering from an injury.
On the women’s side, Victoria Azarenka returns to defend her championship.
ESPN2 will have more than 100 hours of coverage including the women’s and men’s semifinals and both finals.
The usual ESPN tennis crew including Chris Fowler, Chris McKendry, Chris Evert, Darren Cahill, Patrick McEnroe and others will be live in Melbourne for the two weeks Down Under.
Here’s ESPN’s press release.
100+ Hours on ESPN2 HD, 600 on ESPN3; Finals Live January 26, 27
The 2013 tennis season begins with the Australian Open presented by Franklin Templeton Investments with more than 100 live hours on ESPN2 HD and 600+ on ESPN3. Each year, the marathon live action seen overnight in the U.S. from Melbourne has led to some of the most dramatic action in the sport in recent years. The action gets underway Sunday, Jan. 13, at 6:30 p.m. ET with a 12.5-hour telecast.
ESPN’s 29th consecutive Australian Open represents the company’s longest uninterrupted professional sports programming relationship. Daily action continues each night with afternoon reairs totaling more than 50 additional hours through the women’s championship Saturday, Jan 26, and the men’s championship Sunday, Jan. 27, both at 3 a.m. with reairs later each day at 9 a.m. and in prime time. The telecasts are also available through WatchESPN online at WatchESPN.com and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app.
Expanded digital coverage includes 600 hours on ESPN3, all live, with users choosing between ESPN2 or action on up to other seven courts with all matches available on-demand after completion. ESPN3’s coverage starts at 7 p.m. over the first 11 days of the tournament with the first ball each day of all TV court matches. Additionally, ESPN3 will offer live matches not airing on ESPN2, including the men’s, women’s and mixed doubles championships and the finals of the boys and girls divisions.
The tournament is part of ESPN’s ongoing Grand Slam alliance with Tennis Channel, 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.
Setting the Stage
Victoria Azarenka won her first major event a year ago in Melbourne and finished the 2012 campaign as the top-ranked women’s player. Close on her heels is Maria Sharapova, who completed a career Grand Slam at last year’s French Open, and Serena Williams, who has an Open Era record five Australian Open victories among her 15 major titles, is looking to continue her winning ways of Wimbledon and the US Open in 2012.
Novak Djokovic will seek his third straight Australian Open championship – which would be an Open Era first among men – and enters the new season ranked No. 1 among the men. At No. 2 is Roger Federer and his 17 major titles, including four Down Under. Andy Murray at No. 3 will be attempting to win a second consecutive Grand Slam event after breaking through with his first at the US Open. With injury and illness keeping Rafael Nadal – who has been off the court since last summer’s Wimbledon – from competing, the door is open for the likes of David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Juan Martin Del Potro or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to reach the semis, or beyond.
The Australian Open has a history of starting the tennis season off in a big way, with matches of historic lengths in the summer heat Down Under. Just in the last two years on ESPN2:
- In the fourth round of the 2011 Australian Open, Francesca Schiavone defeats Svetlana Kuznetsova in the longest women’s match ever at a Grand Slam event – 6-4, 1-6, 16-14. The match lasted 4:44.
- In tennis’ longest Grand Slam final ever, No. 1 Novak Djokovic outlasts No. 2 Rafael Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7 (5), 7-5 in 5 hours and 53 minutes at the 2012 Australian Open on ESPN2. It was Djokovic’s fourth title in the last five Majors.
TV: IN THE U.S. AND AROUND THE WORLD
The best tennis team in television returns for 2013, led by Cliff Drysdale – who has been with ESPN since its first tennis telecast in 1979. Darren Cahill, Chris Evert, Mary Joe Fernandez, Brad Gilbert, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver return with hosts Chris Fowler, who also calls matches including the finals, and Chris McKendry. Tom Rinaldi will contribute features, news and interviews during event coverage and on SportsCenter.
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.
ESPN International will deliver to the pan-regional ESPN networks in Latin America (including the HD networks) over 100 hours of coverage, showcasing the biggest names in tennis and players of local relevance. ESPN+ will air over 30 hours of live complementary coverage in primetime throughout the early rounds.
DIGITAL MEDIA, AT HOME AND ABROAD
WatchESPN will deliver ESPN2’s live coverage of the Australian Open online at WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold members. Additionally, ESPN3 will once again provide coverage of no fewer than eight live feeds from various courts – including the women’s and men’s semifinals and finals – nearly 600 hours. For the first 11 days (Sun., Jan. 13 – Wed., Jan. 23), 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. 26) and men’s (Jan. 27) 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.
ESPN Mobile TV, a 24/7 channel for wireless, will provide 113 hours of live and simulcast coverage with ESPN2′s programming schedule.
ESPN On Demand (TV & Mobile) Will offer highlights from past years tournaments as well as a highlight from this year’s men’s and women’s matches.
ESPN.com will once again feature Courtcast, a cutting-edge application presented by IBM, featuring official IBM tournament and real-time statistics, Hawk-Eye technology, a rolling Twitter feed, Cover It Live analysis and interactive poll questions. Slam Central, an aggregation of all the day’s top news, analysis, blogs and video, as well as a daily Digital Serve and At This Minute video segments with commentators in Melbourne discussing the results, will be a daily staple. News and analysis from contributors Bonnie D. Ford and Tennis.com writers will add to the depth of coverage. During the second week of play, the staff will interact with fans via live blogging.
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 over two million homes in 15 countries throughout Latin America/Caribbean (Argentina, Chile, Venezuela, Mexico, Costa Rica, Uruguay, Peru, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Colombia and Panama, Aruba, Barbados, Curacao, Trinidad/Tobago).
AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2013 on ESPN2 HD
(For these charts, all times are Eastern, and each day “begins” at 6 a.m. ET.
Therefore, the listing Sun., Jan. 19 at 3:30 a.m. ET is actually very late on Sunday night.)
Date Time (ET) Event Sun, Jan 13 6:30 p.m. – 7 a.m. Early round play LIVE Mon, Jan 14 Noon – 2:55 p.m. “ Same-day 9 p.m. – 7 a.m. “ LIVE Tue, Jan 15 2 – 5 p.m. “ Same-day 9 p.m. – 7 a.m. “ LIVE Wed, Jan 16 2 – 5 p.m. “ Same-day 11 p.m. – 7 a.m. “ LIVE Thur, Jan 17 2 – 5 p.m. “ Same-day 11 p.m. – 7 a.m. “ LIVE Fri, Jan 18 2 – 5 p.m. “ Same-day 9 p.m. – 7 a.m. “ LIVE Sat, Jan 19 7 – 9:55 a.m. “ Same-day 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. Round of 16 LIVE 3 – 7 a.m. “ LIVE Sun, Jan 20 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. “ LIVE 3:30 – 6 a.m. “ LIVE Mon, Jan 21 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. Quarterfinals LIVE 3:30 – 6 a.m. “ LIVE Tue, Jan 22 2 – 5 p.m. “ Same-day 9 p.m. – 2 a.m. “ LIVE 3:30 – 6 a.m. “ LIVE Wed, Jan 23 2 – 5 p.m. “ Same-day 9:30 p.m. – 2 a.m. Women’s Semifinals LIVE 3:30 – 6 a.m. Men’s Semifinal #1 LIVE Thurs, Jan 24 1 – 4 p.m. Men’s Semifinal #1 reair 3:30 – 6 a.m. Men’s Semifinal #2 LIVE Fri, Jan 25 1 – 4 p.m. Men’s Semifinal #2 reair 3 – 5:30 a.m. Women’s Championship LIVE Sat, Jan. 26 9 – 11 a.m. Women’s Championship reair 10 p.m. – MID Women’s Championship reair 3 – 6:30 a.m. Men’s Championship LIVE Sun, Jan 27 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Men’s Championship reair 7:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. Men’s Championship reair