The Australian Open always offers challenges for American tennis fans, who are forced to either request the graveyard shift at work or stock up on Red Bull in order to watch the matches that are played 16 hours ahead of Eastern Time. But based on the early play of some of the top talents in tennis, watching the early rounds of the Open is well worth the sacrifice.
The top three players on both the men's and women's sides of the draw are off to blazing starts, each advancing through the first two rounds without dropping a set. Maria Sharapova has looked particularly impressive, not only winning all four sets, but also winning every single game played in the first two rounds.
ESPN2 will begin broadcasting Day Five of the Open at 11 p.m. EST on the evening of Thursday, January 17. Coverage will begin with the match between defending champion Novak Djokovic and Radek Štěpánek, one of the more talented competitors in Djokovic's draw. At 3 a.m. EST, Maria Sharapova will take on Venus Williams in perhaps the first marquee matchup of the Open. ESPN2 will end coverage for the day at 7 a.m. EST.
The Tennis Channel will also offer coverage of the tournament, beginning at 7 p.m. EST on Thursday and continuing until 11 p.m. EST. Coverage resumes on Friday at 7 a.m. EST, ending at 2 p.m. EST.
For those either without television access or who want uninterrupted coverage of the Australian Open, ESPN will offer streaming through ESPN3, available at ESPN.com or through the Watch ESPN app. ESPN3 will begin streaming the tournament at 10:00 p.m. EST on Thursday evening, continuing uninterrupted until the end of the matches that begin at 3 a.m. EST.
The most exciting and significant matches of the Australian Open are still a few days away, but if the first few days of the Open are any indication of what is ahead, we could be in store for a classic Grand Slam.