US Open: the challenge
We were happy that Casey Dellacqua gained direct acceptance, making way for Olivia Rogowska to get the wildcard as part of our exchange program with the US Open. Less than a year ago, Sam Stosur had her big win. Australia has won six Grand Slam singles titles in the last 25 years –Stosur , Lleyton Hewitt , Patrick Rafter  and Pat Cash .
When you look at how difficult it is to win a Slam, that’s not bad. Switzerland has won a lot more because of Federer. Serbia has won now. Spain and the US have been dominant. But many countries, including the UK, have not had Grand Slam success. It gives you a perspective of how hard it is. The expectation that winning a Grand Slam is an easy thing and a measure of how you are performing as a nation in tennis, is not accurate, although it’s certainly helpful when it happens! The US Open is a tough championship to win. Sam’s playing well and she had a good week this week, but everyone’s looking to her. To repeat as a champion is a very difficult thing to do.
I predicted Murray and Serena Williams would win gold at the Olympics but it depends on Andy’s health as to whether he can take the title at Flushing Meadows. He improved from having a great Wimbledon to an even better Olympics and he had the whole country behind him. The US Open will be different, but I think in the next few Slams, Andy will get over the line and win a major. Serena is playing unbelievable tennis right now and she will be hard to beat. After Roger’s victory at Cincinnati, I’d put him and Murray as favourites, with Serena in the women’s and Sam up there as well.
Each year when the US Open comes up, we think about the fact that we’re the next Grand Slam. The team in Melbourne has done a great job with putting together the new initiatives for 2013. The redevelopment has given us an opportunity to reconfigure things differently and to make sure the fan experience is a great one. When fans go to our 14 match courts, they will be able to see great tennis and be in as much shade as they can. There will be great modern scoreboards, with a rolling ticker of scores from other courts and a big information tower that says, for example, ‘if you want to watch Federer practice, he’s out on Court 16’. Each court will act like an entertainment hub. Before you could be on court 6 and you wouldn’t know what was happening on court 19. We want to change all that.
We are planning for the launch in early October, where we will announce all our initiatives for 2013. We also generally announce prize money at this time. We’re sympathetic to the players and the fact that many find it extremely difficult to make a living to support their careers, and we want to make tennis an attractive sport and viable pathway. We know the Slams have the capacity based on their success, but we also believe that it’s not only the Slams’ responsibility. We are happy to take the lead on making sure we can address the issues around the players’ quest for higher compensation. We have invested in more pro circuit events and more lead-in events to provide players with jobs, and we’re the leader in Grand Slams in how we pay prize money. So we’ve put our money where our mouth is and want to arrive at a solution that addresses all the issues, not just now, but for the future as well.