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Australian Open Day 11 preview: Three spots in singles finals on the line

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Li Na

Li Na is looking to reach her third Australian Open final. (Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

MELBOURNE, Australia — Both women’s semifinals and one men’s semifinal are scheduled for Day 11 of the Australian Open. ESPN2 will televise the women’s semifinals beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET Wednesday. ESPN will have the men’s match starting at 3:30 a.m. Thursday.

Li Na [4] vs. Eugenie Bouchard [30] (second match, Rod Laver Arena; not before 9:30 p.m. ET Wednesday): The Veteran vs. The Ingenue. Li, 31, a finalist last year and in 2011, is the highest-ranked player remaining and has a golden opportunity to win her second Grand Slam title. Bouchard, 19, whose composure belies her age, is unfazed by the idea of contesting her first major semifinal in her first main-draw appearance at the Australian Open and fourth at a Slam. She believes she belongs with the game’s elite.

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  • Published On Jan 22, 2014
  • Aussie Open Day 10 preview: Federer-Murray among four quarterfinals

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    Roger Federer

    Roger Federer hasn’t dropped a set in four matches in Melbourne. (Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

    MELBOURNE, Australia — The quarterfinals wrap up on Day 10 of the Australian Open. Andy Murray and Roger Federer will play the marquee match, their first meeting since Murray’s five-set victory in the semifinals of last year’s tournament. Also Wednesday, Rafael Nadal will face Grigor Dimitrov, who is contesting his first Grand Slam quarterfinal.

    On the women’s side, Victoria Azarenka will renew her testy rivalry with Agnieszka Radwanska, and Simona Halep and Dominika Cibulkova try to make good on a huge opportunity.

    Click here for the television programming schedule.

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  • Published On Jan 21, 2014
  • Aussie Open Day 9 preview: Djokovic, Wawrinka play for berth in semifinals

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    Novak Djokovic and Stanislas Wawrinka

    Novak Djokovic (left) and Stanislas Wawrinka played a thriller last year in Melbourne. (Paul Crock/AFP/Getty Images)

    MELBOURNE, Australia — The quarterfinals begin on Day 9 of the Australian Open, highlighted by a rematch of a men’s classic from last year’s tournament. Tennis Channel will have two hours of coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET, and ESPN2 will take over at 9 p.m.

    Novak Djokovic [2] vs. Stanislas Wawrinka [8] (first night match, Rod Laver Arena): The three-time defending champion is 15-2 against Wawrinka, who hasn’t beaten the Serb since 2006. But the Wawrinka of the last 12 months is a remarkably different player. His five-set losses to Djokovic at the Australian Open (a five-hour marathon that ended 10-8 in the fifth) and U.S. Open produced some of the most exciting tennis of the 2013 season, and Wawrinka is undefeated this year after winning the Chennai Open and making the quarterfinals here for the second time. Meanwhile, Djokovic has looked absolutely ruthless through four matches. He hasn’t lost a set, he’s been taken to a tiebreaker only once and he’s dished out two bagel sets.

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  • Published On Jan 20, 2014
  • Aussie Open Day 8 preview: Azarenka-Stephens, Federer-Tsonga headline

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    Victoria Azarenka and Sloane Stephens

    Victoria Azarenka (left) and Sloane Stephens haven’t met since last year’s Australian Open. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

    MELBOURNE, Australia — Two blockbuster rematches from last year’s Australian Open headline the schedule Monday as the fourth round concludes. Here are the matches to watch on Day 8. Tennis Channel will have two hours of coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET, and ESPN2 will take over at 9 p.m.

    Victoria Azarenka [2] vs. Sloane Stephens [13] (second match, Rod Laver Arena): Stephens once said of Azarenka, “You could tell me she sucks toes — I wouldn’t care. She’s been nice to me since I met her for the first time. She and my mom are always chatting it up. People are always telling me they hate her. I don’t know why.”

    Those comments came before their controversy-tinged semifinal last year, which Azarenka won 6-1, 6-4. That match isn’t remembered for the fact that Azarenka mostly outclassed her younger opponent en route to the title. What people remember is Azarenka’s taking a medical timeout near the end of the second set that stalled the momentum of Stephens, whose then-coach, David Nainkin, called the move “cheating within the rules.”

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  • Published On Jan 19, 2014
  • Australian Open Day 7 matches to watch: Can Ivanovic challenge Serena?

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    Ana Ivanovic

    Ana Ivanovic is seeking her first victory against Serena Williams.(Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

    MELBOURNE, Australia — The fourth round of the Australian Open begins Sunday. Here are the matches to watch on Day 7. Tennis Channel will have two hours of coverage starting at 7 p.m. ET, and ESPN2 will take over at 9 p.m.

    Serena Williams [1] vs. Ana Ivanovic [14] (Second match, Rod Laver Arena): Ivanovic hasn’t won a set against Williams in four meetings, but the Serb is on a roll after winning a tune-up tournament in New Zealand and reaching the fourth round here with a strong performance against Sam Stosur. Ivanovic will need to continue to find the range on her forehand to challenge the five-time champion, who hasn’t dropped a set yet. “Serena is on top of the game for so long now,” Ivanovic said. “She’s someone we admire actually. It’s going to be very tough task. But I look forward to that challenge. I’ve been playing some good tennis. It’s going to be nice test to see where I’m at.”

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  • Published On Jan 18, 2014
  • Australian Open Day 6 matches to watch: Rafael Nadal-Gael Monfils on tap

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    Andy Murray takes the court against Feliciano Lopez on Day 6. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

    Andy Murray takes the court against No. 26 seed Feliciano Lopez on Day 6. (Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)

    MELBOURNE, Australia — Two marquee third-round matches will headline Day 6 of the Australian Open. Rafael Nadal and Gael Monfils, two of the most athletic, dynamic athletes on tour, face off at night. Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov, two of the most exciting talents in Generation Next, face off during the day. Also Saturday, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Andy Murray, Agnieszka Radwanska and Sloane Stephens try to navigate their tough matches to reach the second week.

    Click here for the complete order of play. ESPN2′s coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET.

    Rafael Nadal [1] vs. Gael Monfils [25] (first night match, Rod Laver Arena): It’s safe to say that at least a few exchanges in this match will make the list of the best points of the tournament. Nadal is 9-2 against Monfils, but both of the Frenchman’s wins have come on hard courts in January — at the Qatar Open in 2009 and 2012. They met again at the Qatar Open two weeks ago, with Nadal winning the final 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-2.

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  • Published On Jan 17, 2014
  • Australian Open Day 4 matches to watch: Nadal, Federer in action

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    Rafael Nadal hasn't played a full match in these conditions yet. Will it help him or hurt him? (Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)

    Rafael Nadal hasn’t played a full match in these conditions yet. Will it help him or hurt him? (Robert Prezioso/Getty Images)

    MELBOURNE, Australia — Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro are all up on Day 4 of the Australian Open, where once again the thermometers will read in the triple digits for most of the day.

    Sharapova opens play on Rod Laver Arena against No. 44 Karin Knapp. Murray anchors the night session against a qualifier, Vincent Millot, ranked No. 267. Both should get through easily.

    Click here for the complete order of play. ESPN2′s coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET.

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  • Published On Jan 15, 2014
  • Australian Open Day 3 matches to watch: Sam Querrey eyes third round

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    Li Na faces another 16-year-old in the second round of the Australian Open. (Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

    Li Na faces another 16-year-old in the second round of the Australian Open. (Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

    MELBOURNE, Australia — Day 3 at the Australian Open features a match lineup so lackluster that the men’s night match features No. 28 Vasek Pospisil against Australia’s Matthew Ebden, who is ranked No. 67. Stars Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic play during the day, but the undercards are clearly weak, since that’s the best they can do for a night match on Rod Laver Arena.

    The tournament can blame the luck of draw that put so many big stars on Rafael Nadal’s side of the men’s draw. I’m sure Djokovic is complaining.

    Click here for the complete order of play. ESPN2′s coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET.

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  • Published On Jan 14, 2014
  • Australian Open Day 2 matches to watch: Heat a factor for Federer, Nadal

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    Rafael Nadal takes on Bernard Tomic in his first match of the Australian Open. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

    Rafael Nadal takes on Bernard Tomic in his first match of the Australian Open. (Quinn Rooney/Getty Images)

    MELBOURNE, Australia — Let’s take a jam-packed schedule with Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and more of the game’s biggest stars, pour molten lava all over Melbourne Park and see how it goes. The much-talked about heat wave is set to pound Melbourne on Tuesday, with the forecast calling for temperatures exceeding 105 degrees.

    If the roofs on Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena remain open (the tournament referee has discretion to close them), then Federer, Andy Murray, Lleyton Hewitt, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Agnieszka Radwanksa will be taking the court for their first matches under some intense conditions. That’s a huge variable to manage.

    Extreme heat to hit Melbourne as Australian Open kicks off.

    Click here for the complete order of play. ESPN2′s coverage begins at 9 p.m. ET.

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  • Published On Jan 13, 2014
  • U.S. Open Day 4 preview: Duval goes for win No. 2, Isner takes on Monfils

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    John Isner faces a tough opponent in Gael Monfils in his second-round match. (Kathy Kmonicek/AP)

    John Isner faces a tough opponent in Gael Monfils in his second-round match. (Kathy Kmonicek/AP)

    NEW YORK — Here are the storylines and matches to watch on Day 3 of the U.S. Open. Tennis Channel begins its coverage at 11 a.m., and ESPN2 picks up coverage at 1 p.m. Click here for the order of play.

    Storylines

    Match of the Day: John Isner vs. Gael Monfils: If you’re on the grounds Thursday, make sure you get there early to grab a seat for this one. It’s the big-serving Isner vs. the most dynamic athlete in the game under the New York lights (fifth match on Louis Armstrong Stadium). The two have split six meetings but haven’t played in more than two years. None of their six matches has ended in straight sets. In their only match at a Grand Slam, Isner beat Monfils 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) at the 2010 Australian Open.

    Victoria Duval tries for win No. 2: The 17-year-old squeaky-voiced American lit up Louis Armstrong Stadium when she ousted 2011 U.S. Open champion Sam Stosur in the first round on Tuesday. Now we’ll see how she fares on a much smaller show court when she takes on Daniela Hantuchova in the fourth match on Court 11. Big upsets can be fun, but they’re even better when the underdog can back it up.

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  • Published On Aug 29, 2013


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