Jim Courier is tipping Rafael Nadal for a second Australian Open title and Serena Williams for a sixth singles victory at Melbourne Park. Mats Wilander believes defending champions Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka will once again start their seasons with Grand Slam success.
Martina Navratilova, Barbara Schett, Pam Shriver and Pat Cash are among others who polish their crystal balls ahead of Australian Open 2014.
Predictions from the stars of the tennis world is merely one of the fun and informative features that you’ll find in the Australian Open official souvenir program, which is now available in Australian newsagencies and via ausopen.com.
A helpful reference tool and packed with entertaining information, it’s great reading material ahead of the Australian summer of tennis. Complemented by quality photographs and a specially commissioned cover illustration from local artist Travis Price, the Australian Open program is also a collectible for many keen fans.
Most helpful to many is the extensive player profiles section, with every member of the top-100 men and women appearing. As well as all their latest statistics, you’ll find personal insights and analysis of the players’ recent highs and lows.
Feature stories are another highlight of the souvenir publication, with many top tennis writers – including Jon L. Wertheim, Tom Tebbutt and Suzi Petkovski – contributing to the 230-page publication.
“Star Struck” examines what it’s like for a young player to meet their hero in a professional match – both the highest honour and the biggest test in the young careers for many. Vasek Pospisil, the rising Canadian, perhaps explains it best as he describes his first match against Roger Federer: “It was a little bit surreal, like a dream – an amazing experience that I cherished.”
The stars’ off-court worlds are uncovered through the “More than just a player” feature that explores their business interests, study projects, celebrity connections and extensive charity work.
We also take you behind the scenes of the Australian Open, exploring the extensive logistics that’s required to stage such a massive event. Planning for the next tournament begins even before the current one ends – and you’ll be fascinated by every detail of the steps that are required in between, plus the scores of staff required for it all to come together.
Other insights that will be new for many readers relate to the latest developments at Melbourne Park, including the stunning new roof over Margaret Court Arena. It’s complemented by a “20-20” feature on what developments could eventually occur in professional tennis? Whether that’s players competing into their late 30s or even their 40s, best-of-five matches for men and women; Hawk-Eye technology on every court of every event, it’s fun to speculate with some high-profile industry figures.
The future of tennis takes centre stage in the men’s and women’s preview stories too. While acknowledging the established stars who’ve claimed multiple titles at the Australian Open and other Grand Slams those stories uncover the younger players ready to break through at major level. “There are always new stars in the cosmos replacing the older ones,” notes Wertheim.
Generation Next is also a highlight in coverage of Australia’s Nick Kyrgios, Ashleigh Barty and Thanasi Kokkinakis, who have all thrived at a junior level and are ready to next the next steps in their playing careers.
While those young players’ Australian Open careers are only just beginning Lleyton Hewitt will play his home Grand Slam event for a record 18th time in 2014. That’s covered, too, as former opponents speak about the challenges of competing against the prolific Australian fighter.
There are also comprehensive statistics, tournament honours rolls, must-have practical information for your day out at the Australian Open. The event might still be some weeks away but you’ll feel like you’re here already when you get your hands on the official program.
The Australian Open program is AUD$19.95 and is on sale now at newsagencies around Australia. It will be sold at Melbourne Park from 11 January 2014 with a free Daily Schedule and, for onsite visitors only, a free copy of the January edition of Australian Tennis Magazine.