The Open on TV: In 3D

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Imagine you have a front-row seat for the U.S. Open final and one of the players lets loose with a blistering passing shot, but the racquet slips out of his hand and it’s hurtling right at you, end-over-end, as you throw up your hands to ward it off.

But you’re not courtside. You’re not even inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. You’re at a Best Buy store in Des Moines or Duluth, and you’re watching the U.S. Open telecast. In 3D.

The Next Big Thing in home electronics, 3DTV, comes to tennis this Labor Day weekend, and again on Sept. 11 and 12 for the women’s and men’s Open finals. That’s when CBS will be geared up to telecast a 3D version to about 20,000 American homes that are equipped with the special TV receivers, 3D glasses and subscriptions to DirecTV’s n3D channel.

If you haven’t forked over some $2,000 in early-adopter cash, local and national consumer electronics retailers across the country, including all Best Buy outlets, according to a company spokesman, will be showing the live CBS coverage of the U.S. Open finals on 3D sets. But don’t expect to put your feet up and hunker down for a best-of-five match at the store. There are just so many glasses, and Best Buy says the most you can expect is probably about five minutes of 3D time.

And if you have lousy seats at the Open this weekend and next, the matches will be also be shown in 3D on a walk-through basis at the Panasonic station on the south side of Louis Armstrong Stadium.

For the telecasts, CBS will augment its arsenal with 3D cameras overhead and near ground level on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Imagine watching a Rafael Nadal forehand rocket off the baseline toward Roger Federer’s smooth one-hander: 3D adds just one more reason for fans to hope the top two seeds face off in the final.

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