Do you have a favourite player? Find out where they’re practising and go and watch! Love your tennis? Beat the queues to watch some of the best matches! Work all day? Enjoy the tennis at night! Not a tennis fan? Sample great food or catch a band at Melbourne Park instead!
Discover all this and more in our AO 2014 insider guide, which offers several useful tips for maximising your experience at the year’s first Grand Slam event.
When they’re not competing, players for the most part stay out of the public eye in locker rooms, treatment areas, player café and lounge facilities and media zones. Yet there are still plenty of chances for fans to see their favourite players in the flesh. The best recommendation? Head straight for courts 16, 17 and 18, Melbourne Park’s practice courts. Here you can witness a veritable who’s who of tennis talent warming up before their matches or hitting on off days between rounds, and maybe even score an autograph afterwards. And by wandering around the back courts, you’ll no doubt come across some players; the clue is to look for sportily-dressed, athletic looking people donning racquet bags moving through the crowds!
Due to the popularity of the players and incredible tennis action on offer, spending some time in a queue is an inevitable part of a day at the Australian Open. But there are some thrifty ways to minimise your line-time. Arriving early is your best bet – that way, when gates open at 10am on the first 10 days of the tournament, you can head straight for your court of choice and secure a seat. On outside courts, you can even hold seats for up to three changes of ends to avoid having to re-queue if you need to leave the court. You can skip the ground pass queue lines at Melbourne Park by purchasing your ticket prior to the day, and avoid queues at entry doors into Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena matches by timing your arrival during a change-of-ends – a great way to make this work is by following the live match scores on the official Australian Open mobile and iPad apps. Find yourself stuck in a queue? Make the best of it by coming dressed up – think face paint, flags, bright colours and props. The most conspicuous and enthusiastic fans could find themselves anointed the Kia Fan of the Day, with prizes including a daily iPad giveaway and the ultimate prize, a KIA Soul.
How to get a Heineken Hat …
Heineken Day – the first Saturday of the Australian Open – has increasingly become the most popular day of the tournament; in 2013, almost 81,000 fans streamed through the gates. Most made a beeline for the Heineken Bar, where they collected their free Heineken trilby hat and revelled beneath sunny skies while taking in the tennis on the giant screen. Those hats will again be available in 2014, and with some other great activities on Grand Slam Oval and live music on the Heineken Stage, it’s wise to arrive early to ensure you can enjoy what is fast becoming one of the most atmospheric days of the Australian Open fortnight.
… and other free stuff
Grand Slam Oval is packed with several exciting sponsorship activations that not only offer exciting activities, but also the chance to enjoy plenty of giveaways. At ANZ Advantage Arena, you can score ANZ LED fans and ANZ globe moneyboxes, while across at the Mount Franklin Dome, you can sample the new flavours of Mount Franklin’s ‘Lightly Sparkling’ range. Coca-Cola’s activation offers frozen drinks in a variety of flavours and at the Cardio Tennis booth, you can receive a free Cardio Tennis trial simply by filling in your details. At the Kia Kube, giveaways include paddle fans and cool neck wraps when you try out the slot car rally game.
With Melbourne – a culinary hotspot – the setting, it makes sense that fans can enjoy gastronomic delights at the year’s first major event. And with the Australian Open known as the Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific, many of these dishes have their roots firmly planted in the Orient. On Grand Slam Oval, there will be Korean BBQ dishes available including Bibimbap, Kim Chi and Yum Yum chicken, while you can also enjoy a variety of sumptuous South East Asian curries from Curry Pot Kitchen. For a more fine-dining experience, the Grass & Grain contemporary “pop-up” restaurant sources quality local produce and specialises in quality meats. For the health conscious, Garden Square’s Fruit Stand offers fresh and seasonal produce, and there’s a range of Deliciousness products stocked at food outlets around Melbourne Park catering to the vegetarian and gluten-free crowd. And the old favourites will make their return in 2014 – including Snag Bar, Nachos and Pizza Bar – to fuel the throngs of hungry tennis-goers.
Beating the heat
The Australian Open is all about summer and sun, but it’s also notable for its sweltering temperatures. Should you wish to take a break from the sunshine and beat the heat, shade is your best friend. And at Melbourne Park, there’s plenty of it. The Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena concourses offer limited seating and several food outlets, all set within cool stone walls that provide relief from the searing sun. The redeveloped Margaret Court Arena now offers more than 3200 square metres of shade, 360 degrees around the concourse level. And if you want to keep following the tennis, Garden Square is dotted with several leafy trees to nestle under while still enjoying a view of the giant screen.
While many youngsters are on school holidays or enjoying a break between uni semesters, some people never have the chance to get down to Melbourne Park during the day during working hours. But luckily, the Australian Open caters to the night crowds; for just $25 dollars, “after-five” ground passes are available on the first six days of the tournament to those wanting to catch the scintillating tennis action as it extends into the evening. One of the great Australian Open experiences is scoring a seat on Margaret Court Arena for the feature men’s night – which so often extends to five sets – or watching the night matches on Rod Laver Arena in balmy weather under the stars on the giant screens in Garden Square and at the Heineken Bar. And if you can’t get to Melbourne Park, fear not – an atmospheric live site at Federation Square screens the action from Melbourne Park, which you can enjoy in the thriving city centre surrounded by the glittering lights of Melbourne’s CBD.
All you can read
Supplementing your tennis-viewing experience at Australian Open 2014 are a range of publications available on site at Melbourne Park. The Australian Open 2014 Official Program is stacked with absorbing features, beautiful images and detailed player profiles, a must-have in your bag for your day at the tennis. Australian Tennis Magazine offers additional exciting features as well as handy technical, mental, training and nutritional tips for getting the most out of your game, helping you emulate your heroes on court. The Daily Schedule offers up-to-date draws, previews, court scheduling information and player lists to ensure you don’t miss your favourite players in action.
Score an Australian Open memento
Getting a souvenir from their time at the tennis is high on many people’s bucket lists, but it’s wise to get in quick if you want to snap up some of the most prized items from the Australian Open Shop. AO towels, giant tennis balls, caps and T-shirts are the most popular merchandise, but with 80 per cent of the shop range being Australian Open-branded – including performance wear, jackets and hoodies, headbands, bags, drink bottles, umbrellas and heaps more – you’ll find whatever it is you’re looking for to cap off your Australian Open experience with a lasting memory.
In 2013, an elevated practice court viewing deck was a spectacular addition to the Australian Open, allowing fans to walk the length of three practice courts watching their favourite players fine-tuning their games. The viewing deck also affords sweeping views over match courts stretching south-east to Hisense Arena. A similar view is provided from the elevated concourse between Margaret Court Arena and Show Court 2; from here, you can see over all of Melbourne Park’s courts stretching north-west towards the CBD, and even catch glimpses of the players in action.
Not a tennis fan? No matter! There’s so much you can do at Melbourne Park unrelated to tennis that you could conceivably spend the entire day at the site without seeing a ball hit. You can stroll around Garden Square and check out the brand new Social Shack, taking interactivity with fans, players and the tournament to a whole new level. For the shopaholics, there’s the nearby AO Shop catering to sporty tastes and a new retail precinct set under Margaret Court Arena where you can source the latest fashions of French label Lacoste. After that you might be getting hungry; through Ticketek or on-site at the AO Hospitality Information Desk, you can purchase tickets to dine in style at Zest in the Premium Hospitality Precinct, a fully-licensed restaurant offering exciting South East Asian dishes. As the afternoon rolls on, stroll down to Grand Slam Oval to check out the sponsor activation booths and receive giveaways. And from there, you’re perfectly positioned to finish the day by taking in a gig at the Heineken Live Stage, featuring some of Australia’s hottest music acts every day throughout the tournament fortnight.