Melbourne is the home of sport in Australia, and even in the few months I’ve been here we’ve had several huge events, from the Melbourne Cup at Flemington Racecourse to the Boxing Day Test at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to the Ultimate Fighting Championship (which I never knew existed outside that episode of Friends) at the Ethiad Stadium. Although I haven’t followed any of these events deliberately the city is so enthusiastic about its sport that it’s impossible to just exist in everyday life here unaware of them. That’s why I was pretty excited that with January rolling around it means the arrival of the first tennis Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open. Tennis is one sport I can get behind!
Back in December I’d bought myself a Grounds Pass for the middle Saturday at the very reasonable price of $55.00. That gets you entry to all of the outer courts – of which there are 23 (13 had matches when I was there) and the Hisense Arena. The bigger stars are normally scheduled for the two larger arenas Margaret Court and Rod Laver and for those you have to buy specific tickets. It’s a guessing game if you book far in advance because the schedule of play isn’t announced until the day before, and if you leave it until the day before there’s a chance the tickets will be sold out. You can sometimes see some pretty big stars even with a grounds pass though. I noticed that today Radwanska was playing in Hisense!
I booked a grounds pass because I wasn’t hugely fussed about who I saw and they do say you can upgrade your ticket if you get there and it turns out someone you want to see is on one of the big courts. Yesterday Andy Murray was playing in the evening slot on Margaret and although it would’ve been great to see him I had of course chosen the biggest attendance day ever at the Open and there were no tickets left at all.
— Australian Open (@AustralianOpen) January 23, 2016
It didn’t dampen my spirits though, and neither did the weather, for though it was pretty wet that morning the first match of the day on Hisense was our surprise British female hope Johanna Konta (she was actually born in Sydney but shhh). She was playing Denisa Allertova of Czech Republic and I wangled my way into Hisense at 11am and was able to watch her play some amazing tennis and sail through to the final 16. This was a huge deal for as it’s the first time we’ve actually had a British female in the final 16 at the Australian Open since 1987!
Once the match was over the roof came off the arena, a sign that the rain had stopped and play would soon be starting on the other courts. Luckily I had a schedule and a plan so I abandoned Hisense in search of some food and then went searching for the other Brits playing on court 6. Once I’d (QUEUED and) eaten I arrived just in time for the start of Jamie Murray’s doubles match. He was playing with Brazilian Bruno Soares against the Polish team of Frystenberg and Janowicz. They also won without too much trouble.
That game was followed by another doubles match where I knew none of the players but by this time it was afternoon and there were people queueing just to get on to court 6, which was a definite indication of how busy it was getting outside. I didn’t want to risk leaving and trying to get back in for the match afterwards which was the all British female doubles clash between Jo Konta and Heather Watson vs Jocelyn Rae and Anna Smith. While I had noted a couple of Scots sitting near me during the Murray match earlier this was the first time there seemed to be a significant number of Brits in the audience. For those of you confused as to why, Heather Watson is basically our best British female tennis hope. Last year she put up a hell of a fight against Serena Williams at Wimbledon and became a bit of a national treasure but she wasn’t in the singles at the Open as far as I could tell (does she not play hard court or she didn’t she qualify?) I’ve never actually heard or Rae and Smith but they were actually the winners of the match so that was interesting – maybe they are ones to watch.
I left at around 6pm and was going to watch Murray on the screen outside but at this point I was pretty tired and hungry and saturated with tennis. Plus it’s still relatively early in the tournament so I had a pretty good feeling he’d win… which he did. that being said I’m pretty tempted to see if I can get a specific ticket to watch him or Djokovic play next week. Watch this space.
The Australian Open runs until Sunday 31st January at Melbourne Park
A Grounds Pass with access to Hisense Arena & outside courts 2-23 will cost you $55.00 for the day.
Single Session tickets for Rod Laver Arena and Margaret Court from $120 – $160. They are more expensive when it gets to the semis and finals. Morning session starts at 11am and evening starts at 7pm. There are twilight sessions towards the end of the tournament on days when there is only 1 session. More details can be found on the website.
You can also purchase all day session tickets and multi-day session tickets on the website.