Screengrab from TennisTV
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• Photo: Maria Sharapova wishes boyfriend Grigor Dimitrov a happy 22nd birthday after beating Sloane Stephens in Rome on Thursday night. Sharapova has withdrawn from the tournament with a viral illness.
• Awful Announcing summarizes ESPN's reported 11-year, $770 million deal for exclusive rights to the U.S. Open beginning in 2015. When CBS ends its run with the U.S. Open in 2014, the only Grand Slam tournament on broadcast television will be the French Open on NBC.
In a conference call with tennis and media reporters, officials from the United States Tennis Association were asked if they felt moving to ESPN and a potentially smaller audience would hurt the Open. However, the USTA and ESPN President John Skipper noted how the audiences for cable are matching and in some cases surpassing the broadcast networks. And while it wasn't stated, ESPN is hoping that obtaining more championship events will prevent cable subscribers from cutting the cord.
• Peter Bodo says the ESPN deal is a win for tennis.
Among other things, ESPN has bundled its U.S. Open commitment with an agreement to also broadcast the U.S. Open Series that leads to the grand finale in New York. All told, ESPN will broadcast about 200 hours over a span of about six weeks (roughly 140 of those hours will be at the U.S. Open).
And perhaps best of all for tennis diehards: ESPN wants to stream every single competitive main-draw singles match of the tournament, from the minute the first ball of the 2015 U.S. Open is hit.
This is a watershed event for tennis—and probably for sports broadcasting in general.
• Sara Errani is your new WTA No. 5. Impressive work from the consistent Italian over the last year.
• These comments (by coach and former top-20 player Jason Stoltenberg) about the mental block experienced by the young Australians when they get to clay sound equally applicable to a majority of Americans.
''Of course, the Europeans have more experience on it, because they grew up on it, but our games are good. There's no reason why our players can't be successful playing on clay. I think a lot of it is their own limited expectations of themselves and what they're capable of doing, and for Ash that's very much the case as well.
''They just don't trust that they can play on the stuff, whereas years ago we just went over there and played tennis. You're over there to try to win tennis matches, and you just adapt and adjust.''
• The Tennis Space collects some of the most egregious incidents of cheating in tennis.
• Thai veteran Tammy Tanasugarn, 35, says she's not ready to retire yet.