Today’s #TBT goes back 10 years to the 2008 Australian Open when long-running matches made one long telecast out of a scheduled two live telecasts (with a break in between) that continued through another break and even into a scheduled a re-air of the best of the night.
Starting Friday, Jan. 19, at 9:54 p.m. ET through Saturday afternoon at 12:37 p.m., a trio of five-set, early-round matches on ESPN2 kept fans – and the crew – glued to their screens. James Blake beat Sebastien Grosjean 4-6, 2-6, 6-0, 7-6, 6-2, Roger Federer outlasted Janko Tipsarevic 6-7, 7-6, 5-7, 6-1, 10-8, and local hero Lleyton Hewitt ousted Marcos Baghdatis 4-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-7 (4), 6-3. When it ended, the live telecast had lasted 14 hours and 43 minutes, no doubt the longest live sports telecast in U.S. history.
As ESPN’s coverage of the 2018 Australian Open continues in Melbourne, Front Row asked two of the crew who are on site now about what they remember regarding the 2008 marathon:
“If there were ever a reason to stay up on a cold, wintry night all the way through midday Saturday in North America, this was it. Then, when it was over, the team had to do a quick turn-around — announcers and production crew — coming back less than five hours later to do another 12-hour session.” — Vice President, Production, Jamie Reynolds
“I was on the tennis beat but based back in Connecticut that year. I remember staying up until 10 a.m. or so for Hewitt-Baghdatis, which doesn’t sound impressive, except when your shift began at 10 p.m. the previous night.” – Matt Wilansky, senior editor, ESPN.com