http://www.tennisweek.com/news/fullstory.sps?iNewsid=2481454 ESPN will officially fill the bill of "Grand Slam Network" and Tennis Channel will take another step forward as a major player when the USTA formally announces the two networks have acquired U.S. Open cable television rights in a midtown Manhattan press conference set for Monday afternoon. The USTA has scheduled Monday's press conference to "announce a major television and digital media deal for the U.S. Open and Olympus U.S. Open Series. The new deal will create a unified, summer long 'Open Season' for the sport of tennis," a USTA spokesman said today. The White Plains-based Tennis Association will formally announce it has completed a deal with ESPN and Tennis Channel for U.S. Open rights on Monday. USA Network's U.S. Open cable rights expire at the end of the 2008 Flushing Meadows major. ESPN and Tennis Channel will begin televising the U.S. Open in 2009. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. Monday's formal announcement will confirm the story Tennis Week broke on April 26. Sources close to the deal told Tennis Week last month the USTA had come to terms on a contract that would give ESPN and Tennis Channel combined U.S. Open cable rights. A USTA spokesman denied the TW report at the time. "The USTA does not have a deal at this time with ESPN or with Tennis Channel," the spokesman told Tennis Week shortly after the Tennis Week story was posted. "USA Network made a proposal to keep the U.S. Open. We continue to discuss the future U.S. Open cable package with a number of interested parties." Despite that denial, USA Network executives had already confirmed the network would not be renewing its rights and sources close to the deal told Tennis Week an agreement between the USTA, ESPN and TC had been reached. Rumors circulated for years that ESPN's commitment to televising the U.S. Open Series — the summer-long series of North American tournaments leading up to the season's final major in New York City — came with an implied agreement from the USTA that when USA Network's contract for Open rights came to an end, ESPN would take over as the Open's cable television home. When the USTA became an investor in Tennis Channel it fueled further speculation that the groundwork had been set for an ESPN/TC broadcast partnership for the Open: the networks already share coverage of the Australian Open and French Open. ESPN officials would not confirm such an agreement existed in past interviews with Tennis Week. ESPN has televised the U.S. Open Series since its inception and its partnership with the USTA on the U.S. Open Series made its eventual acquisition of U.S. Open rights seemingly inevitable. In recent years, Bristol-based ESPN reduced its its coverage of Masters Series events and Davis Cup opting instead to invest its resources and programming time televising the Grand Slams and U.S. Open Series events. ESPN did not renew its rights for Davis Cup, the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami, the Pacific Life Open in Indian Wells, the Tennis Masters Cup and the season-ending Sony Ericsson Championships. It was a shift in programming strategy as the network now focuses its tennis coverage primarily on the three majors — the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon — that it already telecasts either solely or in partnership with the Tennis Channel. The new deal should exponentially expand both the tennis audience for the Open and the ad revenue for ESPN. In return, the USTA should receive unprecedented levels of exposure for its crown jewel, the U.S. Open, by gaining its most comprehensive coverage of the tournament (CBS owns network rights to the Open). Since ESPN can shift late-running matches between three potential networks — ESPN, ESPN2 and ESPN Classic — instances of viewers missing the conclusion of late-night matches that could occur on occasion when USA Network cut away at 11 p.m. Eastern time for regularly-scheduled programming should be reduced. Pontential web streaming of U.S. Open Series events and the U.S. Open would generate even greater exposure for the Open translating into more advertising and sponsorship dollars for the USTA, which recently announced Olympus has taken over as title sponsor of the U.S. Open Series. The network that has long billed itself as "The Grand Slam Network" will complete its cable television Grand Slam sweep starting next year while Tennis Channel now owns or shares rights to three of the four majors. Interestingly, Tennis Channel is not available in many parts of Westchester County, New York meaning the USTA cannot get Tennis Channel through Cablevision in its White Plains headquarters. The USTA reports it does receive TC through DirecTV. Tennis Week will update this story after Monday's press conference in Manhattan.