For the first time, the men’s semifinals of Wimbledon will be televised live across the continental United States.
ESPN is in the first year of a 12-year exclusive agreement for the American broadcast rights. Their coverage this year is unprecedented. ESPN’s live airing of the semifinals ends NBC’s past policy of not airing Wimbledon until the conclusion of the Today show. That meant only the Eastern time zone saw the semifinals live.
Friday’s coverage will begin at 7 a.m. Eastern with the hour preview show Breakfast at Wimbledon, ESPN’s self proclaimed pre-game show. According to an ESPN press release, Friday’s coverage will be available “on ESPN3, as well as WatchESPN, which includes ESPN and ESPN2 online at WatchESPN.com and on smartphones and tablets via the WatchESPN app.”
The Men will take to Centre Court at 1 p.m. London time, 8 a.m. Eastern. One of the matches that has been anticipated all tournament was the possibility of a Novak Djokovic-Roger Federer men’s semifinal.
Federer holds a 14-12 advantage against the world’s No. 1 player, but the Djoker has won six of the last seven meetings. Four of the meetings in that time span have occurred at Grand Slams. Djokovic holds a 4-1 lead in those meetings. Federer’s only win was a semifinal victory at the 2011 French Open.
Their last two Grand Slam meetings have to be in Federer’s head. Djokovic avenged his loss in the 2011 French Open semifinals with a victory this year. He also rallied from two sets down to defeat Federer at the U.S. Open last fall.
Federer breezed through the first two rounds, losing only nine games. He struggled in Rounds 3 and 4. He needed a comeback from two sets down to defeat Julien Benneteau in the third round before ousting Xavier Malisse in four sets in the fourth round. He seemed to regain his footing with a straight-set win over Mikhail Youzhny in the quarterfinals.
Djokovic’s only scare came in a third-round victory over Radek Stepanek. He lost the first set 6-4 and then cruised 6-2 in each of the final three sets. That is the only set he has lost at the 2012 fortnight competition.
When Djokovic and Federer conclude their match, national hero Andy Murray will face off against 2011 Wimbledon semifinalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Murray and Tsonga were the semifinal losers in 2011. Tsonga pulled off one of the biggest surprises of the 2011 fortnight when he upset Federer. He came back from two sets down in one of the biggest wins of his career. The winner will play in his first Wimbledon final.
Murray and Tsonga have played six times with Murray winning five. Tsonga’s only win was a first-round victory at the Australian Open in 2008. Murray ousted Tsonga in the Wimbledon quarters in 2010.
Doubles will also play a big role on Friday.
Serena and Venus Williams will play on Court 1 against the world’s No. 1-ranked team, Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond. They will be the first match on Court 1. The Bryan brothers will play their semifinal match on Court 3 against Jonathan Marray of Great Britain and Frederik Nielsen of Denmark.
Bob Bryan is teaming with Huber and they will play their mixed doubles quarterfinal on Friday.
The Tennis Channel will continue with its wrap-up show, Wimbledon Primetime from 5-9 p.m. Eastern. Wimbledon will be broadcast internationally on Friday.
GoTennis.Com has a list of the complete schedule.