NBC SPORTS’ FRENCH OPEN COVERAGE BEGINS THIS SATURDAY
Nadal, the King of Clay, Seeks his 5th Straight French Open Title
“I think it would be a good idea at the French for Roger to change his tactics and play more aggressively, shortening the points and coming to the net.” – McEnroe on how Federer Can win
NEW YORK – May 27, 2009 — Rafael Nadal seeks to become the only man ever to win five consecutive French Open titles as NBC Sports presents the 2009 French Open from Roland Garros in Paris beginning Saturday at 1:30 p.m. ET, in high definition. Coverage of the French Open concludes next Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7 with the women and men’s finals live. Host Ted Robinson anchors NBC Sports’ broadcast, joined by analysts John McEnroe and Mary Carillo.
Nadal, the four-time defending champion at Roland Garros seeks to become the only man to win five straight French Open titles surpassing the legendary Bjorn Borg, who won four straight from 1978-1981 and six overall titles. Nadal had spent 160 straight weeks as the world’s second ranked men’s tennis player until he surpassed Federer in August 2008 and has held the No. 1 ranking ever since. In 2008, Nadal became the only man to win the French Open, Wimbledon and earn an Olympic gold medal in the same year.
Federer had been the world’s top ranked tennis player for a record 237 straight weeks from February 2004 – August 2008 before being passed by Nadal. He has won a total of 12 Grand Slam singles titles (five Wimbledon, four U.S. Open, three Australian Open) and is closing in on Pete Sampras’ record of 14, but the French Open title still eludes him. Federer has lost to defending French Open champion Nadal in the Finals in each of the last three years and in the semifinal round in 2005.
FEDERER VS. NADAL: NBC Sports analyst John McEnroe calls Federer-Nadal the “one of the greatest rivalries in sports.”
- They have been either No. 1 or No. 2 in the world since July 2005 with Federer holding the top spot for 237 consecutive weeks before Nadal surpassed him in August 2008.
- The two have faced each other 20 times, 16 of those in tournament finals including a record seven Grand Slam finals.
- Nadal holds a 13-7 edge over Federer including wins in five of their seven Grand Slam final matches.
- Federer won the last match between them on clay at the Madrid Masters earlier this month but Nadal holds a 9-2 edge in the series on clay.
MCENROE ON THE RIVALRY: “Last year’s Wimbledon final was the greatest match ever and for our sport it couldn’t have come at a better time. Let’s just hope that they keep it going for a few more years. Already, it is one of the best rivalries in sport.”
MCENROE’S PREDICTION: “I have to go with Nadal to win his fifth straight French Open title.”
MCENROE’S ON FEDERER WINNING IN MADRID: “It looked like Federer was trying to change his tactics which worked for him, and I think it would be a good idea at the French for Roger to change his tactics and play more aggressively, shortening the points and coming to the net.”
MCENROE ON WHO COULD SURPRISE: “I don’t think you’re going to see any big surprises. The best-known players are going to come through. If Gael Monfils is healthy he can make a run. I don’t think you’re going to see a Gustavo Kuerten come out of nowhere as we’ve seen in the past.”
The women’s draw is wide open with Dinara Safina, last year’s runner-up and the runner up to Serena Williams at the Australian Open, holding the top seed. Serena (No. 2) hasn’t won the French Open since 2002 and her sister Venus (No. 3) has never won at Roland Garros. Last year’s champion Ana Ivanovic won her first round match this year but is only the No. 8 seed. Other top seeds include Elena Dementieva (No. 4) and Jelena Jankovic (No. 7).
MCENROE ON WOMEN’S COMPETITION: “Dinara Safina is the favorite with the most confidence on clay but it’s certainly wide open. There are only a handful of players who believe they can win including the Williams sisters, particularly Serena, who won a tough first round match.”
COVERAGE ON NBC SPORTS: Following is the schedule for NBC Sports’ coverage of the 2009 French Open, which culminates with live HD coverage of the women’s (June 6) and men’s (June 7) finals next weekend:
Saturday, May 30, 1:30-4:30 p.m. ET – Third Round
Sunday, May 31, 3-6 p.m. ET – Third and Fourth Round
Friday, June 5, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. (all time zones) – Men’s Semifinals
Saturday, June 6, 9 a.m.-Noon ET – Women’s Final (Live)
Sunday, June 7, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. ET – Men’s Final (Live)
FRENCH OPEN GOES MOBILE: Tennis fans that are on the go can once again watch the French Open live on their mobile phones through NBC 2Go and NBC Sports Mobile. Fans can also get live news and scores on their mobile devices through the NBC Sports Mobile site (http://m.nbcsports.com) or by texting “TENNIS” to 51515 to sign-up for NBC Sports Mobile tennis alerts.
NBC AND THE FRENCH OPEN: In 1975, NBC became the first American television network to provide coverage of the French Open when the network signed a three-year deal with the French Tennis Federation. The tournament was covered by CBS from 1980-82 and returned to NBC in 1983, where it has remained since.
ABOUT NBC SPORTS CHAMPIONSHIP SEASON: NBC Sports Championship Season ties together seven iconic championship events with a combined 769 years of history in a 65 day period starting with the Kentucky Derby on May 2 and culminating with Wimbledon on July 5. NBC Sports Championship Season also includes The Players, the Preakness Stakes, the French Open, the Stanley Cup Final and the U.S. Open.