via press release:
ESPN at the French Open: New TV Schedule Live Every Day; Evert’s ESPN/Paris Debut
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.