THINGS TO DO AT THE AUSTRALIAN OPEN
Catch a match
The world's best players will return to Melbourne in January 2017. Women's champion Angelique Kerber and men's champion Novak Djokovic will be back to defend the titles they won at the 2016 Australian Open, alongside the likes of Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro. The action takes place at Melbourne Park, a cluster of stadiums and outdoor courts right next to Melbourne's city centre. For spectators the most affordable ticket is a ground pass. This gives you access to matches on the outdoor courts near the three arenas, as well as in the 10,000-seat Hisense Arena, and entry to Birrarung Marr, a popular riverside park next to Melbourne Park where live music concerts take place. Mid-range tickets offer entry to the 7500-seat Margaret Court Arena, or you can spend more to watch matches at the 15,000-seat Rod Laver Arena, considered the tournament's "centre court".
Visit all the grand slam cities
During the 2017 tournament the world's Grand Slam cities – Paris, New York, London and Melbourne – will be brought to life in the Grand Slam Oval, between the Rod Laver and Hisense arenas. In the oval's Paris Quarter, listen to the Gypsy Jazz Ensemble while dining on crepes and macarons. Take high tea or tuck into strawberries and cream in an English garden setting, or head to the streets of New York to find a gourmet hot dog. The Melbourne precinct will feature food from well-known Melbourne restaurants Mamasita (modern Mexican) and Gazi (a casual Greek canteen). On each day of the tournament, from 10am until late, fans can visit the oval to graze their way around these four themed precincts while catching all the tennis action on big screens.
Party in the park
The Australian Open is staging a weekend of free live music, featuring a great line-up of Australian bands, just before the tournament starts (14-15 January). It's open to the public and takes place at Birrarung Marr, the popular grassy riverside park just outside the tennis stadiums. Once the tennis begins, the park becomes a popular spot for the public to watch the action on the free big screens and experience some of Melbourne's hottest dining outlets. Tennis ticket holders can enter the park's middle terrace, where there will be more live music.
Take your tennis fandom to the next level: get your face painted to support your favourite player at the free face painting stalls in Birrarung Marr. They're next to the pedestrian footbridge linking Birrarung Marr to the Melbourne Park precinct.
HOW TO GET THERE
Spectators can walk to Melbourne Park in about 10 minutes from Melbourne's city centre. Alternatively, take tram route 70 to the closest stops to Melbourne Park (hop off at stop 7B for the Rod Laver Arena or 7C for the Hisense Arena). Or take a train to Melbourne Park's nearest stations (Richmond or Jolimont).