2. Ask the players what they think. Each year, the competitors praise the Australian Open as the friendliest of the big four tournaments, calling it “The Happy Slam”. Keep an eye out for the superstars outside the venue too. You can often spot them at the beach, strolling through a park or relaxing at a cafe.
3. Enjoy basking at the tournament in the height of the Australian summer, especially if you’re looking to escape the northern winter. This is a great time of year to see Australia at its sunniest.
4. Due to the number of games played in the first week, spend some time around the outside courts, where many of the best players compete. The outside courts, which seat fewer spectators, are where you can really get up close and personal to the stars.
5. Splash out for an evening session at the 15,000-seat Rod Laver Arena, one of the most magical experiences in world tennis. Its fully retractable roof enables night matches to be played under the stars or under cover if it’s raining. The fiercest battles can stretch late into the evening, sometimes finishing after midnight.
6. Give yourself a break and hang out at Grand Slam Oval, the venue’s entertainment precinct. Here you can feel the buzz as some of Australia’s hottest bands perform on the Heineken Live Stage.
7. Hungry? There’s always a great range of flavours on offer at the Australian Open, whether you fancy Korean barbecue, Indian curry or a grain-fed prime Scotch fillet steak at the licensed River Terrace restaurant that pops up just for tennis fans.
8. You’ll want some souvenirs of your visit to one of the world’s great tennis centres. There are plenty of shopping outlets selling official merchandise, including the ever-popular player towels, as well as Lacoste boutiques with specially designed event T-shirts.
9. Join fellow fans at the MLC Autograph Island where, in the first week, you can meet your favourite players and get their autograph.
10. After you’ve seen your final rally, take a short stroll or tram ride into the city centre to enjoy its celebrated restaurants, bars and nightclubs, which many believe are the best in Australia. That’s the beauty of Melbourne Park: it’s in the middle of the action in every sense.
What to look out for
Because the Australian Open is a knock-out event, the first week sees more players in action – and it’s the best time to have a ground pass. Starting at $39 in 2015, a ground pass gives you access to every court at Melbourne Park except Rod Laver and Margaret Court Arenas. It’s one of the best bargains in world sport.
How to get there
You can easily walk between Melbourne Park and the city centre along the banks of the Yarra River. However, no visit to Melbourne is complete without a trip on a green-and-yellow tram: Route 70 goes to Melbourne Park. Other options include bus, train, taxi or water taxi.
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