• borisgojanovic

Get it AO-K, and have a fun tennis day

Since we would be travelling around Victoria in January, we had to make it to the Australian Open. As everybody now knows, it is not that easy to get in. Even when you are very good at tennis and your last name ends in “-ovic”, it may all end up in tears. We are keen to play tennis, but don’t pretend any of us can make it into the tournament,…yet. However, we had a plan: get all the administrative sh…, I mean stuff, right, be in Melbourne during that time, and buy tickets. Guess what? It worked and off we went to see some of the best tennis on the planet, without any form of paparazzi hassle.


VO or ꓥO, that it the question


At the entrance, they initially sent us back (they misread our names, maybe?). Turns out that, as foreign vaccinated attendants, we had to get a special verification and bracelet. The special security booth employee had a look at the QR codes we quickly flashed from our smartphones, probably only reading COVID and taking it for granted. Fascinating how once you get there, the level of verification suddenly drops. Or maybe it is the level of trust that rises as they meet us? We got our red VO bracelet, which stands for “Vaccinated Overseas”. Or was it ꓥO, the logo of the Australian Open, who knows?

Melissa had attended the event on multiple occasions in the past, whereas none of the boys had ever been to a Grand Slam tournament.

The Australian Open venue is at Melbourne Park and attracts a big crowd every year. The “happy slam” actually is the biggest Grand Slam tournament. But ask any Aussie: they have a lot of Big things around. The pandemic has of course changed all this, and in 2021, the attendance dropped from 812 to a mere 130 thousand. In other words, easy for us to get tickets. General attendance that is, since the entries to the two main courts (Rod Laver arena and Margaret Court - Court is her name, it does not stand for the tennis playfield…) were at a stratospheric cost. Maybe the whole pricing thing was part of a TV director expert course: How to film tennis in a ¾ empty arena and make it look like there are a lot of people! Yet another episode of strategic thinking by Tennis Australia?


The Lawns


The five of us (Grandma Georgie tagged along) we had a cracker of a day. The outside areas are well designed, with lots of shaded areas (Australian sun oblige), good coffee and screens to watch tennis without straining your neck. It also enables one to enjoy people watching, as these events can attract an “interesting” crowd.

We had a little tour around the shops as good tourists. Any memorabilia we would like to add to the pile of things in our caravan? Nope, not at the ridiculous price put by the posh clothing & accessories sponsor of the event. Seriously, get real.


The Tennis


We got to see some amazing tennis. Federer was not there, still recovering from his knee surgery, Nadal had played the day before, Murray was ousted the night before, Dj… But we the likes of Rublev (thanks for the signature on the boys’ Tshirts), Paire & Dimitrov, Tiafoe & Fritz (great match!), Cilic from afar, Tsitsipas through the stands, behind the AO employee checking tickets to Rod Laver arena (sorry Mel, you’ll see him from closer another time).

On the ladies’ side, nice to see the Aussie Sam Stosur say goodbye to singles tennis, overpowered by the Russian Pavlyuchenkova. We went to support the Swiss women’s doubles pair Golubic & Teichmann, but it wasn’t enough to help them.

Going into the different arenas and stands, we experiences views of a tennis match from different angles, and I must say, we could not really decide which is best. So many things to balance: how close, how much you wish to turn your head, how good your eyes are, etc. Sure thing, the television views have grown to be awesome, but they are no match for the live experience, and one does not have to endure the commentators’ point of view. Sure enough, as we got back home, we turned the telly on, just to see if Kyrgios would be able to beat Medvedev. The young Aussie’s antics did not work any magic, and the cool (ice cool, that is) Russian made his way into the 3rd round.

This leaves us with the hope that we will win the draw (we had to enter the competition) for tickets to the Finals, and then find someone to hand them to whilst we continue our travels to… Tassie!

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