Here are ESPN’s coverage plans and announcers for the 2012 French Open:
Djoker-Slam for Novak? Are Azarenka, Serena & Maria a New Big Three?
Action on ESPN2 HD & ESPN3 Starts Sunday, May 27; Women’s Semis Live June 7
The best tennis players in the world are headed for a collision on the red clay of Paris: Roland Garros, the 2012 French Open starting on ESPN2 HD and ESPN3 on Sunday, May 27. ESPN2’s new schedule of live action every day – starting at 5 a.m. ET most days – continues weekdays through Thursday, June 7, culminating with the women’s semifinals. ESPN3 will provide up to seven screens of action on the days ESPN2 is on the air, totaling 320 hours.
Chris Evert, who won the French Open a record seven times among her 18 Major singles championships, will work the event for ESPN for the first time. She joined the ESPN tennis team at last year’s Wimbledon.
ESPN networks present all four Grand Slam events and have televised the French Open 1986 – 1993 and since 2002. ESPN3 delivers an unmatched multi-screen presentation of the sport’s four majors, all ATP 1000 and 500 tournaments, WTA Premier Events and season-ending championships for both tours.
Both sides of the draw present intriguing storylines, as challengers to the “trivalry” of Djokovic/Federer/Nadal (winners of 27 of the last 28 Majors) seem to be closing and the previously wide-open women’s field seems to be coalescing around a new “Big Three.”
Defending and six-time champ Rafael Nadal is ranked No. 2, after beating top-seeded Novak Djokovic in the finals in Rome on May 21. The Serb has won the last three Majors and is seeking a historic “Djoker Slam,” but has never reached the final in Paris. Roger Federer, a finalist a year ago, has the best record on the tour since the US Open. After that, No. 4 Andy Murray had a career-best semifinal appearance last year and a slew of contenders are threatening to break up the Fab Four – local favorites Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Gael Monfils, David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych, Janko Tipsarevic, Juan Martin Del Potro and 6-9 American John Isner who recently cracked the Top 10 in rankings for the first time.
On the women’s side, Victoria Azarenka, who recently ascended to the world’s top ranking, enters Paris off a tremendous early season including an Australian Open title but also recent losses to Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. The trio seems to have separated themselves from the field in creating a new triumvirate at the top of the women’s game. No. 2 Sharapova, the Aussie runnerup and winner last week in Rome, would love a French title to complete a career Grand Slam, and Williams, the 2002 champion, is playing far better than her No. 5 ranking. In addition, the field includes four other former champions (Ana Ivanovic, Li Na, Francesca Schiavone and Svetlana Kuznetsova) plus Venus Williams continues her comeback and enters her first Major since her sudden withdrawal from the US Open.
After the opening day, ESPN2’s schedule will continue with an all-live telecast starting at 5 a.m. each day through Friday, June 1 and again on Monday, June 4. The network will air live quarterfinal action Tuesday, June 5, at 1 p.m. and Wednesday, June 6 at 8 a.m. ESPN2 will air the women’s semifinals live Thursday, June 7 at 8 a.m. All the action on ESPN2 is also available through WatchESPN online at WatchESPN.com and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app.
Chris Fowler and Chris McKendry will again share host duties on ESPN2, with Fowler also calling matches. They will be joined by Evert, along with returnees Darren Cahill, Mary Joe Fernandez, Brad Gilbert, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver. Cliff Drysdale will rejoin the team next month for ESPN’s first-ever exclusive start-to-finish coverage of Wimbledon.
For the sixth consecutive year, ESPN2 is working with Tennis Channel to bring viewers an almost around-the-clock tournament experience, with each channel cross-promoting the other’s schedule. Tennis Channel will produce all coverage for both channels, with each making use of its own on-air team.
ESPN3’s French Open schedule totals 328 hours with a multi-screen offering of up to seven courts and ESPN2’s coverage and is available on the days the network is televising. ESPN3 will begin each day early in the morning with the first ball in the air and continue to the last shot of the day. Matches will also be available after they take place via replay. Additionally, ESPNPlay in Latin America and the Caribbean will provide customers with extensive live coverage with multiple windows totaling over 500 hours in both English and Spanish on broadband platforms in addition to televised coverage throughout the regions.
ESPN3 is ESPN’s live multi-screen sports network, a 24/7 destination that delivers thousands of global sports events annually and accessible online via WatchESPN.com, on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app and through ESPN on Xbox LIVE to Gold level members. It is currently available to 73 million homes at no additional cost to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection or video subscription from an affiliated service provider. The network is also available at no cost to approximately 21 million U.S. college students and U.S.-based military personnel via computers connected to on-campus educational networks and on-base military networks.
Other ESPN Platforms
Fans will have a variety of ways to follow the French Open with live action and updates on an array of ESPN platforms wherever they are and regardless of whether there is live television offered.
ESPN.com will provide comprehensive coverage before, during and after the French Open, highlighted by an enhanced Courtcast section that – for the first time – will feature all the live action from ESPN3. As always, it will also include real-time scoring from all courts, plus continuous live polling with results revealed immediately in ESPN2’s telecasts. In addition to all the results, news, analysis, schedules and more, ESPN.com will provide live blogging throughout the tournament so fans can follow the action even when there is no live television coverage. Also, fans can watch Digital Serve daily with ESPN2 commentators discussing the latest action and previewing key matches. Other highlights include:
The Latest Dirt – a daily notebook roundup of all the day’s action;
Center Court – a tennis video show featured each week on all the major news from Roland Garros;
Quest for the Quad – a daily look at Novak Djokovic via previews, match reactions, blogs and more as he attempts to complete the “Djoker Slam” for winning four straight majors;
Slam Central – comprehensive coverage of everything that transpired each day;
What We Learned – ESPN.com senior writer Greg Garber and others will highlight the day’s news and notes with quick video snippets on the overlooked storylines.
The WatchESPN App – for fans who receive ESPN’s linear networks as part of their video subscription via Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Verizon FiOS TV or Comcast Xfinity – will provide access to for ESPN2’s live coverage online at WatchESPN.com and through the WatchESPN app on smartphones and tablets, in addition to ESPN3’s multi-screen offering.
ESPN Mobile TV will have 51 hours of live coverage, simulcasting all of ESPN2’s live programming, highlighted by the women’s semifinals Thursday, June 7.
ESPN Interactive TV, exclusive to DIRECTV, will present the French Open showing ESPN2 or Tennis Channel’s live coverage along with five other courts available with commentary. Other features include interactive data, the tournament draw, up-to-date scores, and daily order of play.
ESPN International will present up to 130 hours of the French Open to more than 60 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean on a variety of regional networks. Matches will be chosen based on local interest and commentary will be offered in Spanish, Portuguese and English.
ESPN – All Four Slams, All In One Place
Tennis has been part of ESPN since its first week on the air and provided many memorable moments, but it has never been as important as today, with the US Open joining the lineup in 2009, giving ESPN all four Grand Slam events, something no other U.S. network has ever done, let alone in one year. ESPN has presented the Australian Open since 1984, the French Open since 2002 (plus 1986 – 1993), and Wimbledon since 2003, with exclusivity for live television with all other rights extended added in a 12-year agreement starting in 2012.
ESPN debuted September 7, 1979, and the first tennis telecast was exactly one week later, September 14, a Davis Cup tie, Argentina at U.S. from Memphis with Cliff Drysdale on the call and John McEnroe playing.
In addition, broadband network ESPN3, now in nearly 72 million homes, carries thousands of hours of tennis annually, including all four Grand Slam events, plus ATP 1000 and 500 tournaments and WTA Premier Events, and season-ending championships for both tours. Also, ESPN Classic shows great matches from the past and the sport receives extensive coverage on SportsCenter, ESPNEWS, Spanish-language ESPN Deportes, ESPN Radio, ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. ESPN 3D aired its first tennis at Wimbledon in 2011.
2012 French Open on ESPN2 & ESPN2 HD
Date Time (ET) Event
Sun, May 27 –
Fri, June 1
5 – 10 a.m. Early Round Action Live
Mon, June 4 5 – 10 a.m. Round of 16 Live
Tue, June 5 1 – 7 p.m. Quarterfinals Live & Same-day action
Wed, June 6 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Quarterfinals Live
Thur, June 7 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. Women’s Semifinals Live
2012 French Open on ESPN3
Date Time (ET) Event
Sun, May 27 –
Fri, June 1
5 a.m. – 3 p.m. Early Round Action Live
Mon, June 4 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. Round of 16 Live
Tue, June 5 8 a.m. – 7 p.m. Quarterfinals Live
Wed, June 6 5 a.m. – 1 p.m. Quarterfinals Live
Thur, June 7 5 a.m. – 1 p.m. Men’s Doubles Semis Live