For tennis lovers the Australian Open is a chance to see all the world’s top players battling it out to win the first Grand Slam tournament of the year.
For those who like to mix their tennis with a gourmet treat or two and live music, there are more options than ever before. Award-winning and internationally acclaimed restaurants Rockpool Dining Group and Nobu have set up ‘outposts’ at this year’s Open. Other well known ‘names’ dishing up treats include Mamasita, Gazi, San Antone, Ginger Boy, Hunky Dory and Biggie Smalls.
A number of these food outlets are located within Melbourne Park’s Grand Slam Oval which celebrates the Grand Slam cities of the world—Paris, London, New York and Melbourne together with Tokyo.
A number of other outlets have been set up in the AO Festival area and Middle Terrace which are located in Birrarung Marr, the parkland which adjoins Melbourne Park. While entry to the AO Festival area is free, you’ll need an Australian Open ticket for Middle Terrace, which is also hosting the AO Live Stage, the site of the Open’s daily music extravaganza.
Local and international acts such as American girl group TLC, Brisbane band The Jungle Giants, rising star Vera Blue, ARIA award-winners Bliss n Eso, Tina Arena, Meg Mac, the Hoodoo Gurus, Client Liaison and Daryl Braithwaite, are all taking to the stage here.
This year’s Open also offers plenty to keep youngsters amused. The Ballpark is a mini theme park and as a result of a deal with Disney some of the world’s most loved characters will be promoted here during the tournament. The area also features LEGO and NERF experiences together with a 60-metre zipline. At the specially designed ANZ Tennis Hot Shots courts kids can pick up a racquet, test their skills and have fun playing tennis. There’s also a Kids Tennis Day on Saturday 13 January.
Of course for most visitors to the Australian Open it’s the tennis that’s the main attraction and with the world’s top players all expected to play competition is sure to be fierce. As previous tournaments have shown, only the extremely brave would ever tip the winner. And that’s one of the joys of the tournament—the many players who suddenly appear on the radar.
Many of those players start their journeys in the tournament on the back courts of Melbourne Park, which is why for many fans the first week is the best. While the matches may not be as even as the second week, wandering around the courts, watching the many matches on offer and the players training are great experiences. Together with the current crop of players there’s also the chance to see the legends of the game, the top juniors and wheelchair players in action.
A number of the players competing in the Open are also playing in the 2018 Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic from 9 to 12 January. Held at the previous home of the Australian Open, Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, the Classic is used by the players as a warm up for the Open.