Rafael Nadal will be reunited with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup as the Australian Open International Trophy Tour kicks off on Friday in Seoul, Korea.
It’s the first stop on the iconic Australian Open trophies’ third tour through Asia, with Singapore, China and Hong Kong also on the itinerary during October.
As the biggest sporting event in the world in January, the profile of the Australian Open – the Grand Slam of Asia Pacific – continues to grow in the region, fuelled by the success of home-grown champions such as China’s very own Li Na.
Thousands of fans have flocked around the Australian Open trophies as they’ve criss-crossed exotic Asia in past years. How thrilling is the possibility that they might one day be hoisted by one of those fans on finals weekend at Rod Laver Arena?
It’s dreams such as this the stunning silverware inspires.
China is now familiar territory for the Australian Open trophies, and once again they will join the world’s top players as honoured guests at the China Open in Beijing and in Shanghai.
The trophies will appear at a special on-court ceremony at the China Open, and the event’s top six ballkids will be named as members of the elite Australian Open ballkid squad.
This exchange program started this year, with six outstanding Chinese ballkids in the thick of the action at Melbourne Park. In return, the two ‘top gun’ ballkids from Australian Open 2013, Dylan Colaci and Olivia O’Meara, will work the China Open and act as mentors for the local ballkid squad.
Supported by Australian Open major sponsor Kia and long time partner Lacoste, public activations designed to promote the event, the sport and these sponsors will take place throughout the tour in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen where fans have their chance to have their photo taken with a piece of history.
The trophies will be feted at flagship Lacoste stores throughout the country, and promoted through major competitions offering their customers the chance to win tickets, flights and accommodation for Australian Open 2014.
In November, the second Australian Open Asia Pacific Wildcard Play-off will be staged in Shenzhen, with top Asian players in fierce competition for coveted Australian Open wildcards in both singles and doubles.
In 2013 the play-offs were won by China’s Wu Di and Yuxuan Zhang, the event was broadcast to a potential audience of 190 million people and live-streamed on major online portals globally.
“The Australian Open is already big business in Asia, with major contracts in broadcast, sponsorship and ticketing,” tournament director Craig Tiley said.
“More than half the Australian Open’s global media value is now generated in Asia and we are committed to promoting the event and growing the sport of tennis throughout the region.”
Australian Open International Trophy Tour itinerary
Seoul, Korea: 27 Sept
Singapore: 29 Sept - 2 Oct
Beijing, China: 4-7 Oct
Shanghai, China: 8-10 Oct
Guangzhou, China: 12-15 Oct
Shenzhen, China: 17-18 Oct
Hong Kong: 20-22 Oct