Australian Open 2014: Bigger and Better Than Ever!

Here’s my wrap-up of the 2014 Australian Open. 

With the exception of Rafa finishing the Men’s Final in pain, AO2014 has been incredible. I went to the grounds 11 days out of 14 with a great mix of tickets for Rod Laver Arena, Hisense Arena and Ground Pass access to the outside courts and big screens atmosphere.

During the tournament I’ve been able to catch up with family, long term friends, friends I know through tennis and meet new friends from Twitter. The atmosphere has been great, really friendly and there’s a feeling that everyone enjoys being there.

AO2014 Day 10003

Kudos goes to the AO organisers and all the staff including the people at the gates, the people at the doors, the food vendors, the promo people, the program sellers, the security team and everyone else. I spoke to and interacted with a lot of people during the tournament and every single one was friendly and helpful, despite their long days and the heat of Week 1.

Also read Australian Open 2014 Week 1: A Fan-tastic experience.

AO2014 Day 10001

Memorable moments

Congrats to new Australian Open champions Li Na and Stanislas Wawrinka and best wishes to Rafael Nadal for a smooth recovery.

  • Tomic’s withdrawal from his first round match against Nadal
  • The antics of The Heard during the Tomic v Nadal match
  • Seppi’s five set win over Hewitt in the first round
  • Nishikori’s first round win over Matosevic
  • Rafter and Hewitt playing doubles, well, for one round anyway
  • The heat, the heat, the heat and the heat
  • The cool change when it finally came
  • The practice courts and everything about them. Especially on Day 9 when a lot of players are still in the draw and practicing, but the grounds aren’t as busy so you get relatively easy access.
  • The Day 4 Day session which lasted all night and was a smorgasbord of great matches on the outside courts due to the weather delays during the day
  • Bausta-Agut defeating Del Potro in the second round, and making it through to the fourth round
  • Maria Sharapova’s three set win over Karin Knapp in the second round and incredibly hot conditions
  • Nick Kyrgios’ match against Benoit Paire in the second round, which went until around 1.30am. Nick playing on despite heavy cramping, showing Australian’s who aren’t familiar with him the great potential he has.
  • Ana Ivanovic’s wins over Sam Stosur and Serena Williams
  • Flavia Pennetta’s three set win over Angelique Kerber
  • The Women’s Quarterfinals, what a great mix of lovely players
  • Eugenie Bouchard making it through to the Semifinals
  • Radwanska’s three set win over Azarenka in the Quarterfinals
  • Federer’s form against Tsonga in Round 4 and Murray in the Quarterfinals
  • Lucky loser Stephan Robert winning a set off Murray in their fourth round match
  • Kei Nishikori’s great form against Nadal in the fourth round
  • Murray, despite not being 100%, rallying to win the third set against Federer in their Quarterfinal
  • Nadal adjusting to his blister impaired hand during his Quarterfinal against Dimitrov and going on to win
  • Dimitrov’s form during the tournament, showing his superstar potential to those who weren’t already aware
  • Wawrinka’s five set Quarterfinal against Djokovic
  • Berdych and Wawrinka playing in their first Australian Open Semifinal
  • Federer and Nadal’s Semifinal, which felt like the final to me
  • An ecstatic Li Na winning the Women’s Final, and Dominka Cibulkova being so happy to represent Slovakia in the final
  • Stan Wawrinka defeating Rafael Nadal to win the Men’s title and his first grand slam.

What memorable moments did I miss? Let me know in the comments at the end.

GSG Attendance Summary

  • Day 1 Hisense Day, RLA night
  • Day 2 Hisense Day, RLA night
  • Day 3 RLA day
  • Day 4 Ground Pass
  • Day 7 RLA Day
  • Day 8 Hisense
  • Day 9 Ground Pass
  • Day 10 Ground Pass
  • Day 11 Men’s Semi Final
  • Day 12 Men’s Semi Final
  • Day 13 Ground Pass

Merchandise Purchased

  • Lacoste T-shirt, long sleeved top, bag and two pairs of socks (It’s fair to say that I love the Lacoste merchandise!)
  • AO2014 towel was given to me as a gift (fair to say I also love grand slam towels!)

Suggested Changes for 2015

One of the things that I love about the Australian Open is that every year they make improvements to make an incredible event even better. This year certainly was, with extra seats in Margaret Court Arena (the roof will be finished next year), extra shaded seating areas, extra fans around the grounds to keep spectators cool, a bigger AO Members’ Lounge which has been really popular and a well publicised practice schedule that meant easy access to even the top players.

After spending so much time at the grounds, here are a few suggested improvement for next year:

  • Extend the After 5 Ground Pass to be available on Days 7, 8, 9 and 10 so that people coming in the evening on those days don’t have to pay $39 for access, especially when there isn’t even a late match scheduled on MCA like there is in the first week.
  • Improve the free Wifi; I was able to access it this year, which is an improvement, but it was never strong enough to share photos until late in the second week, I’m guessing because less people were using it then.
  • Better crowd control at the change of ends in MCA. There are more seats now and the MCA matches are really popular but it takes a while to get to a seat by the time you squeeze past all the people looking for seats from the doors. Wimbledon has a great system where the ushers find empty seats and call people down to get straight too them which could be helpful for getting spectators in and out of MCA quickly during the change of ends.
  • Resell Hisense tickets for charity if people leave the grounds, like they do for the main courts at Wimbledon. This would help fans access tickets for late matches at a cheaper rate, would add to the atmosphere in Hisense Arena and would support a charity.
  • More scoreboards around the grounds; This year there were loads of signboards showing the schedule and practice courts but the big scoreboard was gone from Garden Square due to the renovations. The app is great for getting score updates when you have wifi to access it, but I also like to see the scores around the grounds, and on the RLA and Hisense scoreboards at the change of ends.
  • The screens showing the Hisense Arena match at the edges of Hisense Arena have delayed coverage. I can’t imagine what reason there is for this (RLA screens show the RLA match live) and it’s quite disconcerting when you’re planning to go back to your seat, thinking a certain Change of Ends is coming up, then finding out you’re about 3 games behind.

Something else I’d love to see, which is a fantastic part of Qualifying at both the French Open and US Open, is having top players practice on the main courts. This is particularly great at the US Open because Qualifying is free so having Roger Federer practice on Louis Armstrong Arena means loads of fans get to see him in action that might not otherwise be able to. There must be reasons why the RLA practice sessions leading up to the Australian Open aren’t open to the public but it would be incredible if they were.

Photos

We took thousands of photos during this year’s AO and uploaded as many as possible.

Here are the highlights. Follow the links underneath the photos to view the best pics for each category.

AO2014 Day 8 Rafael Nadal Practice0027

AO2014 Day 7 Djokovic Fognini0024

Ana in action

Ana in action

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

AO2014 Roger Practice Day 50009

Sorry mate

Sorry mate

So that’s it for AO 2014. Now we attempt to resume normal sleeping hours, clean the bathrooms, restock the fridge, catch up with non-tennis friends and get through the next 50 weeks until it all starts again!

Thanks go to Kia Australia, IBM Australia and Grand Slam Tennis tours for incredible tickets.  Thanks also to everyone for reading my blog, sharing my articles, your tweets, your feedback and your friendship. And as always, special thanks to Andrew (@ballboy2012) for taking the photos, making the coffee, carrying the water bottle and doing all the little things that free me up to watch maximum tennis and write this blog.

Until next time

Grand Slam Gal

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Comments

  1. Martin Holtom says

    Hi, Loved reading about the Australian Open 2014. Makes me keener than ever to make the long trip from the UK to Melbourne to attend in January 2015. With this in mind, any idea what the actual dates are for the Australian Open 2015? I have read some articles that say that the start date is January 12, 2015, however I have read elsewhere that the first day of the event is January 19, 2015.

    Just wondered if you knew.

    Thanks in advance (once again, loved reading the article)

  2. Bern says

    Yes, the increase in entry fee for the after hours ground pass was disappointing this year. Hopefully this is reviewed for next year.