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Tennis fans: get your rackets ready! The Australian Open Finals are fast approaching. The tournament, also known as the Grand Slam, is one of the world’s biggest tennis events and it takes place from January 11-28, 2018, at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia. It’s one of the first Grand Slams of 2018, with the others taking place in France, the United States and the UK later in the year.
The Australian Open Finals, or AO, are known as the most attended of all the Grand Slams, with over 700,000 people attending in 2017. Players compete for the title of champion and a hefty share of the prize money, which is AUD $60.5 million (USD$42.8m) while singles winners will walk home with a cool AUD$4.5 million (USD$3.2m) each. We’ve got you covered with the low-down on the Australian Grand Slam, from the match schedule through to the top players and the awesome entertainment lineup.
The AO Schedule
The Grand Slam features men’s and women’s singles and doubles. The AO begins with qualifying matches and once a player has qualified, they are then selected to play matches against another player, which is when the real tournament begins on January 13th -27th 2019. The following day’s schedule is released during the afternoon of the day before. In January, you can check out the AO provisional schedule to see match times and dates, or download the AO app on the App Store to keep on top of the schedule. It’s a good idea to stay on top of social media as matches are subject to change. Follow twitter channel @AustralianOpen or #AusOpen for breaking updates.
During the selection of players in the qualifying rounds, ‘seeding’ takes place, which is a technique used to separate the top players in the draw, so they will not meet in the early stages of the tournament. The top seed is the player with the highest current ranking. The top two seeds will never play against each other unless they have made it through to the final round.
2018 saw Roger Federer win the Men’s Singles category (his second time winning), Caroline Wozniacki take the Women’s Singles in her first ever Glam Slam title. Elsewhere, the Doubles category was dominated by Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic, and Kristina Mladenovic and Tímea Babos. 2019’s hotly-tipped player to win is Novak Djokovic.
The boiling hot weather is something that makes Australia’s Grand Slam very different from the other Grand Slams in the UK, the US, and France. The weather in Melbourne can be swelteringly hot in January. There’s an extreme heat policy in place during the tournament, with a threshold of 40 °C — so matches cannot be played when the temperature is higher. Make sure you come dressed appropriately, in light clothing and with a sun-hat. Bring a hand-held electric fan, or manual fan, and be sure to drink tons of water. There are water fountains located throughout the venues, so be sure to keep refilling your bottles.
The Grand Slam takes place across three primary courts: the Rod Laver Arena, the Hisense Arena, and Margaret Court Arena. The Rod Laver Arena is the main venue for the Australian Open Finals and it can seat a whopping 14,820 people. It was the first Grand Slam arena to be fitted with a retractable roof to help beat the heat. Meanwhile, the Hisense Arena, which has a capacity of 10,500, and the Margaret Court Arena, with a capacity of 7,500, are used for spillover games.
There are tons of great activities to accompany the tennis, and the AO is almost like a tournament-come-festival. The AO Open Sessions is a zone in the main stadium where you can chill-out and listen to some great music acts. The zone will be open from January 14-22, 2018. Be savvy and go on January 14-15 when the entrance to the area is free. From January 16-22 you’ll have to buy a ticket to watch the music acts — who are yet to be announced.
The AO also runs a ‘Social Shack’, which is an area with awesome activities, such as photo opportunities, giant screens to watch the game and a stage for interviews with tennis players and celebs. Plus if you’re looking for some cool memorabilia, there will be the chance to purchase used tennis balls from the events.
There’s also a great food line-up — so arrive with an appetite! Restaurants such as Hotel Jesus, Jimmy Grants, Tokyo Tina, and Huxtaburger will be doing pop-ups and feeding eager tennis fans throughout the tournament.
This year there will be a theme park for kids, with zones such as a LEGO play zone, NERF BattleZone HQ and Medibank Play Zone. There will be an ‘Autograph Island’, where you can take the kids to see their favorite tennis stars and get their racket signed. You can check out the AO autograph signing lineup here to see when each player is available for signings. Be prepared to queue, however! Another great activity is the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame, which will showcase some of the best players of all time.
Tickets will go on sale in October. They are like hot cakes, so be sure to get them quickly. While the official ticket release date hasn’t been announced yet — it’s best to keep regularly checking, so you are ready and waiting. Buy tickets for the Australian Open Finals.