AO2013: Exciting new initiatives
As always, we strive to make the Australian Open experience the best in the world for fans and players. We are always looking for new ways to improve that experience and are pleased to announce a number of innovations and developments for 2013.
For players, we’re going to have a larger lounge and restaurant area with significantly increased entertainment options. The restaurant and food offerings will now include basically anything you could want. We’ve added an additional practice court and we’re also hoping that the new, Eastern Plaza facility – with eight indoor courts and five outdoor courts – will be ready for 2013. To go along with our new look and feel, we have changed all the on-court furniture for players and officials.
For fans, we are providing a fantastic experience onsite, which includes the visual experience – we’re adding Hawkeye to Show Courts Two and Three. This means we now have five courts with Hawkeye. We have more shade onsite and more seating on outside courts. Plus, all courts will be fitted with new scoreboards and screens. There will be bigger screens all around the site including at Garden Square and Grand Slam Oval, and we’ll also be introducing super-wall type screens and information towers with news for fans, such as where the stars are practising. We’ve also added more entertainment options for fans on Grand Slam Oval and Garden Square.
Prizemoney at Australian Open 2013 will see the largest increase in the history of our sport, with an increase of 15 per cent from AUD$26 to AUD$30 million, making us the first tournament ever to reach a $30 million pool. And the prizemoney distribution is going to be geared towards the lower-ranked players. Our focus is to support the players in the earlier rounds, because we believe that we should be able to contribute to helping players make tennis an ongoing and viable career.
We’ve responded positively to players’ requests for more prizemoney, and we’ll continue to work with them. That’s why we’re travelling to Shanghai next week during the Masters there to talk with the players about how we should best distribute this.
State of the game
I think it’s a great time for men’s tennis. Leading into Australian Open 2013, you’ve got Roger playing some of his best tennis and you’ve got the comeback of Rafa. Andy now has his first Grand Slam title, which we always knew would happen. Plus, you’ve got Novak, who would love nothing more than returning to No.1 and enjoying the domination that he had last year. These are really exciting times for men’s tennis. Those four have dominated – there are only five players who have won a major in the last 30 Slams (del Potro won the US Open in 2009), so it’s a very elite group, and we expect to have all four of those players here again in January.
On the women’s side, Serena is probably playing the best tennis in the world right now, but you have the resurgence of Maria, Azarenka and Kvitova, and you have Wozniacki, who was ranked No.1 for over a year and would love nothing more than to win a Grand Slam title. You also have Sam, who’s been in the top 10 for three years now and is a Grand Slam winner and finalist – I think she played arguably one of her best matches she’s ever played when she fell to Azarenka in the quarters of the US Open. To play that well, I think she can beat anyone.
I think in both the men’s and the women’s games, the top echelons are going to probably be the best they’ve been. There’s great parity and the depth in both is good.