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A Grand Slam Summer: Tennis on TV

With the Australian Open long done and in the rear view, there are three grand slam tournaments left in the tennis season: the French Open, Wimbledon, and of course, the U.S. Open. With Serena Williams out of competition on personal leave, the women’s events are suddenly looking a lot more competitive than previous years. So, assuming that you don’t have a bank balance that allows for long haul trips to Paris and London followed by a weekender at Flushing Meadows Park, where are you going to get your tennis fix this summer?

Thankfully, for all the tennis aficionados, the sport has a huge following here in the U.S., so catching the best of each tournament on TV is no trouble at all.

First up, is the French Open at the Stade Roland Garros in Paris. U.S. tennis lovers will be happy to hear that there are five broadcasters covering this year’s French Open and they include NBC Sports, the Tennis Channel, TSN, BandSports, and ESPN. No matter where you are in the states, keeping track of events in Paris should be quite easy.

There’s almost $33 million up for grabs in prize money at the most prestigious clay court tournament of the year. Despite this, one-time winner Roger Federer isn’t tempted by the more than $2 million on offer for the men’s champion as he recently decided that he will sit this one out. Surprisingly, though, this means very little with respect to how we see the open panning out for the men as Federer wasn’t really expected to do very well. His stats aren’t looking since he lost a few matches this year to opponents he should have beaten and he has yet to defeat either Djokovic or Nadal.

If it weren’t for Djokovic, many would support Nadal since he’s won the title five times. But having lost four times to Djokovic so far this season, we expect him to go deep, but not to win it. As a result, the clear favorite for the men’s title is Djokovic, who is having a storming season, and we just can’t see anyone stopping him in Paris.

On the women’s side, we all assumed Serena Williams would avenge her defeat in last season’s final, but now it seems that last year’s winner Garbine Muguruza will be the one to beat. Angelique Kerber will, of course, have something to say about that if she is deemed fit for the tournament.

In early July, we head to Wimbledon, the home of strawberries and cream. The organizers have announced the broadcasters for this year’s tournament and there is only two offering coverage in the U.S. These are ESPN and the Tennis Channel. This comes as a surprise given the prestige of the tournament over its French counterpart, but perhaps it simply boils down to cost as we imagine the TV rights for Wimbledon are a lot more expensive than those for the French Open.

Without a doubt, this is the biggest grand slam of them all and for tennis players, stepping out onto the hallowed center court turf is the pinnacle of their career. So, with emotions running so high, it’s sometimes a case of expecting the unexpected. Remember Goran Ivanisevic winning it as a wildcard?

Speaking of which, having lost out on a wildcard entry to the French Open, favorite Maria Sharapova will look to resurrect her career after her 15-month suspension. And with Serena out, it’s possible she could go all the way. However, Venus Williams will have a point to prove having lost in the Australian Open final. At Wimbledon, she will have not any distractions, and there’s a genuine feeling that she could win her first grand slam since Wimbledon 2008.

As far as the men are concerned, we’re back to Djokovic. Although a lot will depend on how the French Open goes regarding play and injuries, you can expect Djokovic to be a shoo-in for the final, at least if not the overall win. Federer will be fresh after skipping the Paris tournament and you can never write him off on grass, but we’re still going to go with Andy Murray for the win. It’s odd to think of him as an underdog, but when you’re up against Djokovic, who has beaten him in five grand slam finals, you’re never going to be the favorite. We’ll cross our fingers for an unexpected Jack Sock win though, you never know.

And now we come to the final grand slam tournament on the tennis calendar: the U.S. Open. As with Wimbledon, there are only two broadcasters offering coverage to the domestic audience: ESPN and the Tennis Channel. However, you can only watch it live on ESPN and ESPN2 while on the Tennis Channel you can catch previews and daily highlights shows.

With the news that Roger Federer has announced his intentions to skip the clay court season in preparation for the grass and hard court summer season, he has been selected as the second favorite to win the U.S. Open behind Djokovic. Taking the sensible approach to prolonging his career by being extremely selective about which tournaments he plays in just might help him to add to his impressive tally of 18 grand slams, and the U.S. Open just might be his best opportunity of the year.

Although it’s difficult to make predictions for Flushing Meadows Park so early with so much tennis still to play before August 28th, there is a possibility that Federer could go all the way. The U.S. Open will come at the end of a grueling season for Djokovic in which there is the potential for him to play more tennis than any other player on the tour. Federer with his fresh legs and a good Wimbledon warm-up behind him could take advantage of this.

Again, with the women’s event, we’re still talking about the absence of Serena, and for good reason; the fact remains that the 23-time grand slam winner is simply that good. Could this be the golden opportunity that Madison Keys needs to step out of the shadow of her illustrious compatriot? Having lost the opening match in her third consecutive tournament, we’re not quite sure she got the memo that she’s the second highest ranking American on the tour.

Should Venus triumph at Wimbledon or at least make it through to the semifinals, then we could fully expect her to be one of the favorites for the title. Her confidence right now is sky high, and hopefully, a good summer’s work will set her up nicely for Flushing Meadows Park.

The reality, though, is that current world number one, Angelique Kerber will be exhausted and should she recover fully from injury, then it could be a third grand slam in the works for her.

Whatever your interests in sport are, there’s no doubting the lure of grand slam tennis on TV. And while we’re spoiled for choice when it comes to the French Open, it’s a little disappointing to see that we are once again limited to two broadcasters for both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, in particular. However, with 1,300 hours of live streaming from all courts at the U.S. Open available on WatchESPN, it seems ESPN has the tournament well-covered.