ESPN Announces Coverage of AUSTRALIAN OPEN Championship
The Australian Open championships - No. 4 seed Li Na vs. No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova for the women's title and No. 1 Rafael Nadal vs. No. 8 Stanislas Wawrinka for the men's crown - will air late tonight and tomorrow night on ESPN at 3 a.m. ET (midnight PT) with an encore presentation in the morning at 9 a.m. on ESPN2.
Tonight, Cliff Drysdale and Chris Evert - with Pam Shriver courtside at Rod Laver Arena - will call the women's championship, which will crown a first-time Australian Open winner. Li, the 31-year old from China whose one Major victory came at the 2011 French Open, has twice previously reached the final in Melbourne (2011, 2013). Cibulkova, the 24-year old from Slovakia, is making her first appearance in a Major final, but upset No. 3 Maria Sharapova and No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska to get there. Chris McKendry will host the telecast, joined at ESPN's set in Melbourne by Mary Joe Fernandez, Brad Gilbert and Darren Cahill. In addition, Tom Rinaldi will interview the players.
A day later, ESPN's 30th Australian Open will conclude with the men's championship late Saturday night at 3 a.m. ET (midnight PT) with Rafael Nadal seeking his 14th career Major title, three shy of Roger Federer's record 17. That achievement would tie him with the legendary Pete Sampras, who, ironically, is in Melbourne to present the men's trophy. Also, Nadal, at 27, would join Rod Laver - for whom the court is named and who will be on hand - as the only men in the Open Era to claim all four Grand Slam titles at least twice. Appearing in a Major final for the first time, the 28-year old Wawrinka de-throned three-time defending Australian champ Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinal round and for his efforts as of Monday will be the top-ranked player from Switzerland (a title Roger Federer has held since January 14, 2001). Nadal has never dropped a set to Wawrinka in taking their 12 previous meetings. Chris Fowler will call the match with Patrick McEnroe in the booth and Darren Cahill courtside. On the set, McKendry will be teamed with Gilbert; Rinaldi will interview the competitors.
Championships on ESPN3
Tonight at 9 p.m. preceding the women's final, ESPN3 will present live the Australian Open Boys and Girls Championships. In the first match, promising American Stefan Kozlov, the No. 2 seed faces top-seeded Alexander Zverev of Germany. Kozlov, who turns 16 on February 1, was born in Macedonia but now calls the Miami area home. In the Girls Final, unseeded Jana Fett of Croatia plays No. 4 seed Elizaveta Kulichkova of Russia.
Following the women's title match, ESPN3 will show live the Men's Doubles Championship. The No. 14 seeded team of Lukasz Kubot of Poland and Robert Lindstedt of Sweden will square off against the unseeded duo of American Eric Butorac and Raven Klassen of Russia. The Minnesota native and Klassen eliminated the top-seeded Bryan Brothers twins in the third round. None of the four players has ever won a Major doubles title.
A day later, preceding Nadal-Wawrinka at midnight (Saturday at 9 p.m. PT), ESPN3 will show live the Mixed Doubles Championship: Kristina Mladenovic of France with Daniel Nestor of Canada vs. Sania Mirza of India and Horia Tecau of Romania.
|Fri, Jan 24||9 p.m. - 1 a.m.||Boys and Girls Championships||ESPN3||LIVE|
|3 - 5:30 a.m.||Women's ChampionshipNo. 4 Li Na vs No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova||ESPN||LIVE|
|5:30 a.m.||Men's Doubles Championship||ESPN3||LIVE|
|Sat, Jan 25||9 - 11 a.m.||Women's ChampionshipNo. 4 Li Na vs No. 20 Dominika Cibulkova||ESPN2||encore|
|Midnight||Mixed Doubles Championship||ESPN3||LIVE|
|3 - 6:30 a.m.||Men's ChampionshipNo. 1 Rafael Nadal vs No. 8 Stanilas Wawrinka||ESPN||LIVE|
|Sun, Jan 26||9 a.m. - 2 p.m.||Men's ChampionshipNo. 1 Rafael Nadal vs No. 8 Stanilas Wawrinka||ESPN2||encore|
Note: for purposes of this chart, each day "begins" at 6 a.m. Therefore, the Friday 5:30 a.m. match is actually early Saturday morning.
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