Mardy Fish joins ESPN for Slams

This news seems to have gone fairly unnoticed over the last week.

But it’s a nice addition to the already king-sized ESPN tennis crew.

American Mardy Fish, who turned 36 Dec. 9, is joining the network’s tennis coverage in 2018, as reported by Vero News.

He will work the four Grand Slams, beginning with the Australian Open next month.

Fish worked a little bit on the Tennis Channel in 2015. But this past summer, stints for ESPN at Wimbledon the US Open led to an offer of an expanded role.

Fish remains close to the game, having retired just two years ago.

“People I know seem to like what I’ve done so far, and they’ve been pushing me to do more of it. And I’ve really enjoyed the TV experiences I’ve had, probably more than I expected,” Fish told

“So when I had a chance to work with ESPN again, especially at the four biggest tournaments of the year, I decided to go for it. This is a tremendous opportunity.”

In-studio, hopefully not for long

Fish on the practice court at the Australian Open in 2011. He’ll be there in January – except in a suit and tie. (Stephanie Myles/Tennis.Life)

Vero News says Fish is expected to be an in-studio analyst. Hopefully, they can quickly promote him to a live match commentary role. 

It’s a great add for ESPN, which needs to get a little younger and more current.

The fact that Fish has faced most of the players they’ll be featuring on the broadcasts can only be a major plus. In recent months, he also has done some coaching with the USTA, working with up-and-coming pros.

Click on the link for more of a very good interview with Fish.

He talks about how wanting to be a mentor to young American players met with surprising resistance. And he also talks about how his awareness that playing tennis and being a television analyst are separate skill sets means he has already begun preparing for Melbourne.

2017 US Open – by the numbers

With the end of the 2017 edition, the US Open tallied up the numbers on various fronts.

There are a lot of big numbers.

Here’s a list of the main points, as released by the USTA.


American Players

  • Four American women reached the singles semifinals at the US Open for the first time since 1981. First-time US Open champion Sloane Stephens, first-time US Open finalist Madison Keys and first-time US Open semifinalist CoCo Vandeweghe joined two-time US Open champion Venus Williams in the semifinals.
  • Eighty five American men and women competed in the US Open main draw and the US Open Qualifying Tournament – an increase of nearly 40 percent since 2013.
  • 2017 also marked the first time there was an all-American women’s singles final and an all-American junior girls’ final since 1981. Sixteen-year old Amanda Anisimova defeated 13-year old Coco Gauff, who was the youngest-ever girls’ singles finalist at the US Open, in the title match.
  • David Wagner won his third US Open quad singles title, his eighth US Open quad doubles title and remained unbeaten in doubles at the US Open.
“HOW much is that check for? Girl!”


  • Twenty of the 24 sessions comprising the US Open sold out.
  • Total attendance for the 2017 US Open was 691,143.
  • More than 100,000 fans visited the first-ever US Open Experience, a two-day recreation of the US Open during US Open Fan Week at the South Street Seaport Historic District in Manhattan.

Social Media

  • From August 28 to September 10, US Open social channels, including Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, posted 3.8k pieces of content that generated 18 million interactions and 92 million video views.
  • Across Twitter and Instagram, hashtag #usopen was the most engaged hashtag of the 2017 Grand Slam season, producing 38 billion impressions.
  • Record fan engagement on all social platforms resulted in unparalleled growth for every social channel. Overall interactions were up 625 percent and video views were up 556 percent.


Digital Platforms

  • For the third straight year, more than 10 million unique visitors engaged with US Open-owned-and-operated digital platforms – and the US Open app, produced in partnership with US Open sponsor IBM – throughout the tournament.
  • Those fans consumed more content than ever: 46 million visits (+15 percent vs. 2016), and 366 million page views (+-23 per cent vs. 2016).
  • More than 63 per cent of all page views came from outside the United States.
  • Mobile consumption continues to drive growth, as more than 73 per cent of the total unique audience came via a mobile device.


  • Saturday’s US Open Women’s Championship on ESPN earned a 1.9 overnight rating in the metered markets for the match portion of the three-hour telecast, 36 per cent higher than last year’s women’s final and the highest overnight rating for the match in the three years ESPN has held exclusivity for the U.S.
  • The three components of streaming the match were also significantly higher than previous years. The total number of unique viewers was up 71 per cent, the total minutes watched was up 15 per cent and the average minute audience was up 38 per cent to a new high for 2015-17.
  • ESPN’s Total Average Audience for US Open was up 11 per cent after 11 days.
  • The total average audience for ESPN’s exclusive coverage of the U.S. through Thursday, Sept. 7, was up 11 per cent to 952,000 viewers on average, compared to 856,000 for the first 11 days of last year’s event.  The increase includes a 50 per cent rise in the audience for streaming.

WTA streaming finally live (updated)

Some seven months behind schedule, the WTA announced in a press release Thursday that it will unveil its new subscription streaming service.

The official start date stated is July 31. In actual fact, the streaming is already up and running – currently broadcasting from Bastad and Nanchang.

The first two tournaments on the North American hard-court swing get under way next week – the Bank of the West Classic in Stanford, and the Citi Open in Washington, D.C.

From the press release:

“An annual subscription to WTA TV will provide access to nearly 2,000 live and on-demand matches from all WTA Premier events and the majority of WTA International tournaments. All singles matches will be streamed along with an array of doubles matches. The new WTA TV will allow you to watch live WTA tennis from around the world. The only exception is China, where our partner, iQIYI, holds exclusive streaming rights and offers an extensive service throughout China.”

And the features:

  • HD streaming
  • Ability to watch multiple matches simultaneously 
  • Multiple camera locations on each court
  • All singles matches will have English commentary
  • Pause and rewind functions

The cost?

According to this on, the cost will be quite reasonable – at least for now.

The cost will be $9.99 US per month, or $74.99 US per year.

It you add it to a Tennis.TV subscription for the ATP Tour matches, of course, it starts getting a little most costly.

On the plus side, it will finally be available, after a long wait.

There doesn’t seem to be a standalone app. But it does work on iPad and iPhone through the Safari browser.

The archives from the beginning of the 2017 season also are already available.


The question is, will the fans who’ve been finding “alternative” methods all season (if not longer) be willing to lay out the cash? Time will tell.

Good news for U.S. fans – watch Houston livestreams

TennisTV is a great service for men’s tennis fans. But when it comes to the smaller events, it’s more difficult in some countries, including the U.S., because of nation-specific blackouts.

The Houston ATP clay-court event has come to the rescue. You can watch stadium-court matches on their website.

Click here to access it.

For those outside the U.S., subscribe to TennisTV.

Here’s the order of play for Monday. Start is 3 p.m. Houston time.

Center Starts at 3:00 pm
1st Rd Nicolas Kicker VS (Q) View Live Scores H2H
6:00 pm
1st Rd (WC) Reilly Opelka VS (PR) H2H
Followed By
1st Rd Juan Monaco VS H2H



Dabrowski’s biggest career win – and no one saw it

MIAMI – Canadian Gabriela Dabrowski won the biggest tournament of her career last weekend at the Premier Mandatory WTA Tour event in Miami.

No one outside the stadium got to see it.

Dabrowski and Yi-Fan Xu of China, a first-time pairing, won the Miami Open women’s doubles title with a 6-4, 6-3 win over far more experienced No. 3 seeds Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova. But there weren’t any cameras on court to capture the moment.

Tennis.Life was there, armed with only an iPhone, and managed to grab the very end.

This is one of the under-reported casualties of the WTA’s current streaming woes. Since the break with TennisTV at the end of last season, the Tour has failed to get its tournaments back online, leaving a black hole for fans of women’s tennis.

When it first became apparent that the new service wouldn’t be operational to start 2017, the official line was they hoped it would be in place by April. It’s April. But they can’t pinpoint a date for its return other than they hope it will be by the end of 2017.

It’s bad enough that the fans can’t even watch. But players who are producing great moments on the court have little record of them. As well, too few people are able to watch and enjoy it along with them.

Want to watch women’s tennis? Good luck

The availability of women’s tennis on television is a bit patchy in many countries. For example, in Dabrowski’s home country, you can rarely find it in English, the language of the majority. There is periodic coverage in French on a sports network that’s almost impossible to find outside of the French-speaking province of Quebec.

That’s for singles. Doubles is an even bigger challenge. At least last season you could get the finals of major tournaments on the streaming service. Add to this mix some particular restrictions at the Miami Open (Tennis.Life endeavoured to get more details on this last week, to no avail), and you have … dead air.

It’s a crazy situation. Dabrowski’s Canadian fans could find countrywoman Genie Bouchard’s first-round doubles match in Monterrey, Mexico this week if they went deep enough into the Internet. It was a match at a small International-level tournament. And it wasn’t even on the main stadium court. And still, there was multi-camera coverage.

Fans will be able to get livestreams from the ITF tournament at Indian Harbour Beach, Fla. next week from a thoroughly legitimate source, via the USTA.

If you looked hard enough, you could find Dabrowski and Xu’s first-round upset win over Abigail Spears and Katarina Srebotnik, even though it had just one overhead camera, and the feed froze at match point.

It’s pretty poor quality, and not too dependable. But it’s better than nothing at all.

But fans couldn’t watch the doubles final at a Premier Mandatory – no matter how far they delved into the ‘net.

Here’s a moment that added insult to injury.

As Dabrowski and Xu were in the middle of upsetting the No. 2 seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina earlier in the week on the Grandstand court, workers were busy.

During changeovers, they activated and set up the courtside cameras for the next match, a men’s quarter-final doubles match featuring Dabrowski’s countryman Daniel Nestor.

For the women – no such luck.

We did manage to get some footage of the trophy presentation as well.

And here are Dabrowski and Xu talking about it afterwards.

While in Miami, Tennis.Life tried to get some intel on how things were progressing on the streaming side. But there isn’t much out there; whatever is happening, the higher-ups are playing it very close to the vest.

They were testing out the streaming during the tournament and we were told that on that end, everything seems ready to go. But everything surrounding the actual streams on the production values side remains a work in progress.

It’s a moot point; what seems to be holding everything up are legal issues surrounding the split with Tennis.TV. And, as we all know, those things always take longer than anyone would like.

Maybe by the end of 2017, the WTA says

In the meantime, diehard tennis fans that had been willing to pay for a quality streaming service are being forced to find … other options. The thing is, those options are free. Even if the quality is dodgy and the bells and whistles (like archived matches) are missing, it’s going to be very challenging to get the fans back to paying for the cow, when they’ve been getting the milk gratis.

For Dabrowski and Xu, there is a silver lining. They each earned $192,585 US each for the win; that’s more than Dabrowski earned all of 2016 in singles, women’s doubles and mixed doubles at Grand Slams combined.

She also reached a career high women’s doubles ranking of No. 19.

Still, she might want to have some memories to go along with it.