There are a few certainties with this year's 2010 U.S. Open tennis championships.
With injuries keeping Juan Martin Del Potro and Serena Williams out of the action, new men's singles champions and women's doubles champions will be crowned at the event. And ESPN2, Tennis Channel and CBS will combine on hundreds of hours of coverage from the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during the upcoming fortnight, from Aug. 30 through Sept. 12.
While ESPN and CBS are the primary rights-holders, Tennis Channel's will serve up its match coverage first, beginning on Aug. 30 at 11 a.m. (ET) from Arthur Ashe and/or Louis Armstrong Stadium
Tennis Channel's typical US Open schedule features live matches daily from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. U.S. Open Tonight immediately follows the conclusion of the final match from the evening schedule and presents encore matches until Breakfast at the Open premieres at 6 a.m. and runs next to encore matches until the start of that day's play at 11 a.m.
During the Labor Day weekend, Tennis Channel's live-match window moves to primetime from 7 p.m.-11 p.m. on Saturday Sept. 4 and Sunday Sept. 5.
Available to some 55 million homes with a free preview across select cable, satellite and telco distributors essentially doubling its 27 million subscriber base, Tennis will present 73 hours of live matches during its second year of Open coverage. All told, the network will offer 234 hours, with nearly 24-hour, "Grounds Pass" level of coverage during the two-week competition.
Tracey Austin, a two-time Open singles champion and long-time USA Network announcer from Flushing Meadow, will serve as Tennis Channel's afternoon and late-match analyst, and appear in shorts and interact with fans around the grounds.
Austin, a regular on Tennis Channel Academy, the coaches and clinic series she has hosted on the network since 2008, joins an on-air roster, highlighted by Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova, the service's lead analysts. Once again, the all-time men's and women's titlists will again work in the same booth.
Veteran sportscaster Bill Macatee, a mainstay of the network's Grand Slam coverage since its first effort in Paris in 2007, will be back in Queens, while lead commentators Ted Robinson and Ian Eagle and former players Leif Shiras, Katrina Adams, Jimmy Arias, Justin Gimelstob and Corina Morariu, all will have their says. Court Report anchor Cari Champion will also be on the tournament grounds for special news and feature segments. U.S. Open Tonight and Breakfast at the Open are hosted by Davenport and Frazier from Tennis' Los Angeles studio, with nightly Court Report segments from reporters Arlene Santana and Angela Sun.
After introducing its Grounds Pass coverage approach to the Open in 2009, Tennis wants to afford audiences an even better feel of spending a late-summer afternoon at the tournament. New in 2010: Tennis Channel Plaza, a fixed interview and fan-interaction site centered just outside Ashe Stadium. Throughout each day's coverage Gimelstob, Champion and others will conduct interviews while surrounded by tournament ticket holders, carrying on public address conversations with the crowd. Moreover, Tennis' main set has been moved from the top of Armstrong Stadium and brought outside to the second level of Ashe, in full view of the public.
For its part, ESPN2 and ESPN2 HD will serve up 100 hours of Open action. During the tourney's first week, ESPN2's coverage will start at 1 p.m. each weekday and continue for at least 10 hours through both the day and evening sessions. Primetime at the U.S. Open presented by IBM begins at 7 p.m. before wrapping at 11 p.m. or when play is concluded, whichever is later.
Opening night begins with a flourish, as ESPN2 will cover the ceremony celebrating those who "Dream, Succeed and Inspire." Four-time Open champ Navratilova, fan-favorite James Blake and reigning U.S. Open Wheelchair singles and doubles champion Esther Vergeer will be honored. The ceremony in Ashe Stadium will be hosted by ABC News's Christiane Amanpour and will feature a special musical performance by Grammy winner Gloria Estefan.
The second week, ESPN2 will feature Primetime at the U.S. Open at 7 p.m. on Labor Day Sept. 6, followed by day-long windows Tuesday - Thursday, starting at 11 a.m. (There is a two-hour gap on Thursday, Sept. 9 from 6 p.m-8 p.m.)
While ESPN2 is on the air, SportsCenter will have the right to cut-in live for updates and key moments. The show's daytime edition runs on ESPN until 3 p.m. with later editions scheduled from 6 p.m.-7 p.m. and 11 p.m.-midnight. In addition, as of Monday, August 30, it is also on ESPNEWS 3-6 p.m. and 7-11 p.m.
On the concluding day Sept. 12, ESPN2 will televise live the women's doubles championship at 1 p.m., and will review all the action at 9 p.m. with a special two-hour edition of SportsCenter at the U.S. Open.
ESPN2 HD will provide fans with new vistas from Ashe Stadium. In a first for any Grand Slam event in tennis, a camera will fly over the court on a four-point aerial system. The angle should be dramatic for walk-ons, ceremonies and walk-offs, and incisive for replays.
Heading ESPN2's coverage are Cliff Drysdale, a former U.S. Open finalist who has been with ESPN since its first tennis telecast on Sept 14, 1979, exactly one week after the network launched, and Chris Fowler, ESPN's lead studio anchor for Grand Slam tennis since 2003. Fowler will also call matches.
Mike Tirico, Hannah Storm and Chris McKendry will also serve as hosts. Patrick McEnroe and his brother John, who made some controversial suggestions about reducing the women's tour owing to the mental and physical challenges it poses to the players, will again often be paired in the same booth.
Darren Cahill, Mary Carillo, Mary Joe Fernandez, Brad Gilbert and Pam Shriver are also on the network's coverage roster, while Rick Reilly and Tom Rinaldi will contribute features and essays during the first week.
Digitally, broadband service ESPN3.com will cover the action from five courts beginning at 1 p.m. the first five days of the event. ESPN3.com will also simulcast ESPN2 for the full tournament, plus select additional court coverage, for a total of approximately 375 hours of Open tennis on the Web.
Tennischannel.com, meanwhile, will feature real-time scoring, schedules, draws and order of play, as well as on-court video highlights, behind-the-scenes features, interviews and Court Report news segments. There will also be exclusive photo gallery scenes, while reporter Steve Flink and humorist James LaRosa will share their online opinions as the competition unfolds.
CBS Sports, meanwhile, will continue its tradition of televising much of the best the Open has to offer, and this year kick in a new serve with 3D coverage.
Per usual, the broadcast network rights-holder will showcase seven hours worth of TV coverage daily on the tournament's holiday weekend: from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sept. 4-5, as well as on Labor Day Sept. 6.
CBS then gets back on court on Friday Sept. 10 at 12:30 p.m. through 6 p.m. with coverage of women's singles semifinals and the men's doubles final.
On "Super Saturday," Black Rock will showcase the men's singles semifinals during a 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., before returning to Ashe Stadium with the primetime presentation of the women's single championship match at 8 p.m.
After opening up its NFL regular-season coverage with the 1 p.m. games, CBS has the men's final at 4 p.m.
As for the enhanced telecasts, CBS secured a sponsorship deal with Panasonic to produce stereoscopic 3D coverage of the middle weekend of the tourney, as well as the final weekend Sept. 11-12.
The coverage, broadcast on DirecTV's n3D channel, will focus on center court and use PACE 3D camera rigs supported by an NEP 3D production truck.
CBS begins its Open coverage at noon on Sunday Aug. 29 with 90 minutes of tennis fun and entertainment from Arthur Ashe Kid's Day festivities, followed by a preview of the tournament at 1:30 p.m.
Check out the complete Open TV schedule here.
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