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The Australian Open: Get Ready! It’s Time for the ‘Happy Slam’

Sport | 20 January 2020
Tennis court full of spectators
Australia Open set to be held on 14 January - 2 February 2020. Photo courtesy of iStock/NOWJAKARTA

Do you really need a reason to visit one of the great cities of the world? Well if you do let me give you three, says Alistair Speirs, who is ready to watch the first Tennis Grand Slam of the year, The Australian Open, then rev his engines for the first Formula One Grand Prix, and crown it all with an astonishing ten days of the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival. And guess what they are all in Melbourne, just a few hours of comfortable flying away.

Melbourne is the coastal capital of the southeastern Australian state of Victoria, and is well known for its great restaurants, nightlife and café culture as well as being the centre of Victoria State’s amazing sights and destinations. At the city’s centre is the modern Federation Square development, with plazas, bars, and restaurants by the Yarra River. In the Southbank area, the Melbourne Arts Precinct is the site of Arts Centre Melbourne – a performing arts complex – and the National Gallery of Victoria, with Australian and indigenous art.

Spend time in the city centre and you’ll discover pockets of busy, chilled, bohemian, architectural and accidentally cool spaces to explore. Find art galleries, bars and restaurants – upstairs and down laneways. Stumble upon indie fashion boutiques, artisan workshops, and street artists at work. Wander waterside paths for raspberry ripple sunsets and climb to a rooftop bar for cocktails with a twinkling night sky view. Sound good , well it’s the perfect place to stay while you enjoy all of the world’s top tennis players as they descend on the city for the brilliant Aussie Open Grand Slam.

The Australian Open is a tennis tournament held annually over the last fortnight of January and is the first of the four Grand Slam tennis events held each year, preceding the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open. It features men’s and women’s singles; men’s, women’s, and mixed doubles; junior’s championships; and wheelchair, legends, and exhibition events. Prior to 1988 it was played on grass courts, but since then two types of hardcourt surfaces have been used at Melbourne Park – green coloured Rebound Ace up to 2007 and, afterwards, blue Plexicushion.

First held in 1905 as the Australasian championships, the Australian Open has grown to become the largest annual sporting event in the Southern Hemisphere. Nicknamed “The Happy Slam”and often referred to as the “Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific” the tournament is the highest attended Grand Slam event, with more than 780,000 people attending the 2019 edition. It was also the first Grand Slam tournament to feature indoor play during wet weather or extreme heat with its eventually three primary courts, the Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne Arena and the refurbished Margaret Court Arena equipped with retractable roofs.

The prize money awarded in the men’s and women’s singles tournaments is distributed equally. With the total for the 2019 tournament being an amazing AUD 62,500,000. No wonder the winners were celebrating !

Novak Djokovic kissing his Australia Open trophy.
Photo courtesy of iStock/NOWJAKARTA

Novak Djokovic was the winner of the Men’s Singles in 2019 and it was his 15th Major Singles title and his seventh at the Australian Open. And Naomi Osaka was the winner of the Women’s Singles in 2019. It was her 2nd Grand Slam singles title, following her victory at the 2018 US Open. So don’t delay the tournament starts on 20 January but there is still time to buy tickets and get the airline sorted.

But if that is not on your sporting agenda, why not make a date with the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix which is held from the 12 to 15 March!

Formula 1 car
Photo courtesy of iStock/NOWJAKARTA

The Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix is the ultimate playground for the world’s biggest stars. You can watch as the fastest cars in the world tear up the Albert Park Grand Prix Circuit with the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. Also, you will enjoy the electrifying atmosphere as Australia’s very own Daniel Ricciardo vies for a podium spot in his Renault Sport. Whether you are a motor sport fan after full throttle, or want to soak in the glamour of this star-studded event, the Formula 1 Rolex Australian Grand Prix presents something for everyone as it takes excitement and opulence to the next level.

But don’t go home then, just a few days later on 19 March Melbourne’s biggest gastronomic celebration, the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival, kicks off marking its 28th year in 2020. The Queen Victoria Market will be the home of the Festival in 2020 where MFWF will stage parties, talks, demonstrations and events within Melbourne’s much-loved marketplace.

Over the 10 days of the Festival, Melbourne will welcome some of the world’s hottest talent, including Alison Roman, Fuchsia Dunlop, Ignacio Mattos, Helen Goh, Michael Solomonov and Lee Tiernan along with our local heroes including Josh Niland, Shannon Martinez, Ben Shewry, Andrew McConnell and Pamela Clark, just to name a few.

The program will take place from 19 to 29 March exclusively in Melbourne, with a dedicated festival in regional Victoria set to launch in spring 2020, showcasing more of the state’s abundance of great food and drink than ever before.

So if you had an idea that Melbourne may just be a good place to visit, think again, it’s a GREAT place to visit in 2020.

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