News & media

Keep up to date with all the breaking news, feature articles and previews as we draw closer to Australian Open 2015.

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    Purav Raja; Getty Images
    Indian qualifier Purav Raja has continued his giant-killing run at the Australian Open 2015 Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off (AWP), upsetting two-time champion Wu Di of China.
    | 29 November, 2014

    Raja upsets Wu in wildcard play-off

    By Tennis Australia

    Indian qualifier Purav Raja has continued his giant-killing run at the Australian Open 2015 Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off (AWP), upsetting two-time champion Wu Di of China.

    After defeating Japanese top seed Hiroki Moriya, Raja beat 2012 and 2013 AWP champion Wu on Friday, and will now face Chinese No.1 Ze Zhang in Saturday’s semifinal.

    Zhang was in sublime form in crushing Indian Yuki Bhambri 6-2 6-1 in just under an hour, and pleased the home fans with thunderous serving throughout the match which set up numerous forehand winners.

    > follow all the latest news from the AWP in Shenzhen

    Zhang said he was excited by the prospect of playing in another Australian Open main draw: “this year I enjoyed the experience of playing Fernando Verdasco in round one. I won the first set but really struggled in the heat after that. I would love the opportunity to play in Melbourne again.”

    Eighteen-year-old Hyeon Chung (KOR) earned a semifinal spot with a hard fought 4-6 6-4 6-3 victory over doubles partner and Davis Cup teammate Ji-Sung Nam.

    Chung will start favourite in his semifinal against unseeded Chinese player Zhe Li, who caused another upset when he defeated highly fancied second seed Yoshihito Nishioka 6-2 6-4. Li roared with delight after clinching match point and will enjoy strong support from the vocal home crowd tomorrow.

    Shenzhen local Shilin Xu kept Chinese hopes alive in the women’s singles event with a 3-6 6-2 6-4 victory over Miharu Imanishi (JPN).

    Xu is only two wins away from a Grand Slam singles debut at the tender age of 16. Xu will face Tamarine Tanasugarn (THA) on Saturday in the third match on centre court; Tanasugarn was sublime form in routing Japanese opponent Nao Hibino 6-0 6-0.

    When asked about the prospect of playing an opponent 21 years her junior, Tanasugarn said she would be ready for the challenge.

    “Xu is a rising player and very exciting for Chinese tennis,” sher said.

    “Hopefully I will play my best as I would love the opportunity to compete at the Australian Open again.

    “I have mainly been focused on doubles this year but I made the semifinals in Toyota last week and am really inspired by the efforts of Kimiko Date-Krumm in her mid 40s.”

    The second semifinal will see Kai-Chen Chang (TPE) take on second seed Eri Hozumi (JPN).

    Chang defeated experienced Japanese opponent Rika Fujiwara convincingly 6-1 6-3 whilst Hozumi won an entertaining match against  Su Jeong-Jang (KOR) 6-3 7-6 (2).

    Chang received a wildcard into the event with her ranking having slipped to 452nd following a battle with injury. She will be aiming to defy her current ranking when she takes on the 146th-ranked Hozumi on Saturday.

    Four players will win the rights to Australian Open entry tomorrow when the doubles finals are played.

    In the men’s final, fourth seeds Ze Zhang (CHN) and Hsin-Hee Lee (TPE) take on Purav Raja (IND) and Ruben Gonzales (PHI) while in the women’s decider, Chinese national champions Zhaoxuan Yang and Qiuyu Le do battle with top seeds Chin-Wei Chan (TPE) and Chen Liang (CHN).

    The accreditation for all winners will be presented by Australian tennis legend Todd Woodbridge here in Shenzhen.

    For draws, scores and player information, check out our dedicated guide to theAustralian Open Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off.

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    Hyeon Chung; Getty Images
    Former junior whiz Hyeon Chung of Korea has romped to victory in the first round of the men's event at the Australian Open 2015 Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off in Shenzhen.
    | 28 November, 2014

    Korean teen makes impressive debut

    By Tennis Australia

    Korean teen Hyeon Chung has made an impressive singles debut on Day 2 of the Australian Open 2015 Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off.

    The 18-year-old and tournament third seed romped to a 6-2 6-0 victory over China’s Cai Zhao. continuing the form that has seen him win four titles – three Futures and a Challenger – in 2014; a fifth could beckon in Shenzhen this week.

    Chung’s junior pedigree is first class; he defeated rising stars Nick Kyrgios and Borna Coric – both now top-100 ranked players – at the Wimbledon Junior Championships in 2013.

    Chung’s opponent on Friday will be fellow Korean and doubles partner Ji-Sung Nam; Nam defeated Chinese opponent Xi Qi emphatically 6-1 6-1.

    Second seed Yoshihito Nishioka moved one step closer to the Australian Open with a hard fought victory over fellow Japanese opponent Sho Katayama 3-6 6-1 6-4. Katayama lead 3-0 in the third set before the left-handed Nishioka surged home to take the deciding set.

    Nishioka is no stranger to Grand Slam tennis after qualifying for the main draw of the US Open earlier this year, and will take on experienced local Zhe Li (CHN) in Friday’s quarterfinals.

    Li won an exciting encounter against Bumpei Sato (JPN), during which Sato served for the first set at 5-4 before Li was spurred on by the home crowd, breaking back and clinching the first set in a tiebreak. Li broke early in the second set and eventually triumphed 7-6(4) 6-4.

    In the women’s draw, former top 100 player Kai-Chen Chang (TPE) opened women’s singles matches on centre court on Thursday with a 6-3 6-3 victory over compatriot Ya-Hsuan Lee (TPE).

    Chang reached a career high ranking of 82nd in 2010 and is currently on the road back after an injury lay off.

    Chang’s quarterfinal opponent will be experienced Japanese campaigner Rika Fujiwara; Fujiwara caused the upset of the day when she defeated third seed Kai Lin Zhang (CHN) 6-3 4-6 7-5.

    The match was punctuated by a rain delay at 6-5 in the third set with the match needing to be moved to centre court for completion. Fujiwara maintained her composure though winning the required 12th game to seal victory.

    Second seed Eri Hozumi (JPN) opened her tournament campaign with a convincing 6-2 6-1 victory over Indian qualifier Ankita Raina.

    Hozumi will next take on Korean wildcard Su Jeong Jang, after Jang defeated Chinese local Zhaoxuan Wang 6-3 7-6 (5).

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    Rafael Nadal in action at Australian Open 2014; Getty Images
    A capacity crowd is expected to join 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal (ESP) for a blockbuster one-off entertainment event at Margaret Court Arena this summer.
    | 27 November, 2014

    Rafa set to rock Margaret Court Arena

    By Tennis Australia

    A capacity crowd is expected to join 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal (ESP) for a blockbuster one-off entertainment event at Margaret Court Arena this summer.

    Nadal will be joined by a superstar line-up of tennis personalities for Rafa’s Summer Set on Wednesday 14 January.

    The raging bull of tennis and arguably the most competitive player to step foot on a tennis court, Nadal will set the stadium alight in January when he takes on a formidable line-up of opponents including countryman Fernando Verdasco.

    The 2009 Australian Open champion will face off against Verdasco and fellow stars of the sport in an entertaining showdown as he prepares for the first Grand Slam of the year.

    The event will also feature one of Melbourne’s top DJs spinning the decks as Margaret Court Arena transforms into a do-or-die battleground.

    Tickets to Rafa’s Summer Set will be on sale at 1pm tomorrow via Ticketek. Tickets are priced at $56 for adults, $51 for concession, $29 for juniors under 16 and $156 for families.

    Nadal said the event would be a great opportunity for all fans to experience the new-look Margaret Court Arena in tennis mode for the first time.

    “I’ve heard that the new roof on Margaret Court Arena is now finished and the pictures I’ve seen are amazing. The Australian fans are always fantastic and I hope they’ll come and experience the finished stadium at this special event,” Nadal said.

    The event will also support the Rafa Nadal Foundation, which assists and provides opportunities for socially disadvantaged young people, and the Australian Tennis Foundation.

    A range of Premium Ticketing packages is available. For more information contact +61 3 9914 4177 or 1300 309 166, or email[email protected].

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    Tamarine Tanasugarn; Getty Images
    Thai veteran Tamarine Tanasugarn and Indian qualifier Purav Raja were the stars on the opening day of the Australian Open Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off, beating the women's and men's top seeds respectively.
    | 27 November, 2014

    Tanasugarn upsets top seed in Shenzhen

    By Tennis Australia

    The start of the main draw at the Australian Open 2015 Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off (AWP) was highlighted by the defeat of both top seeds in the singles event.

    Lin Zhu (CHN) was the first top seed to be eliminated by Thai veteran and former Grand Slam quarterfinalist, Tamarine Tanasugarn.

    Tanasugarn was clinical in the 6-4 6-0 demolition which lasted just over an hour, and will next face Nao Hibino (JPN) on Friday. Hibino defeated Yan Wang (CHN) 6-3 6-1.

    Zhu was joined in defeat by men’s top seed Hiroki Moriya (JPN); he was shocked by Indian qualifier Purav Raja.

    Breaks went back and forth in the opening set before Raja emphatically clinched the tiebreak. He secured an early break in the second set before closing out a 7-6(3) 6-4 victory.

    > follow all the latest news from the AWP in Shenzhen

    Raja will now take on Chinese second ranked male Di Wu, who defeated fellow Chinese player and good friend Mao-Xin Gong in a tough three set battle 3-6 6-4 6-3.

    Wu trailed a set and a break before rallying to win the match, and has now won nine consecutive singles matches at the AWP event since 2012.

    Top ranked Chinese male Ze Zhang opened his campaign with a comfortable 6-2 6-3 victory over Chuhan Wang (CHN). Zhang will be looking to go one better in 2013 after being defeated in the 2013 AWP final. Zhang ultimately qualified for the Australian Open after battling through qualifying in January.

    Zhang will face Yuki Bhambri (IND) in Fridays quarterfinal, after the Indian defeated former Wimbledon junior winner Wesley Whitehouse (NZL) 7-6 (3) 6-3 in a tough encounter.

    Bhambri knows the importance of the AWP event after winning the doubles title in 2013, and will be looking to add the singles title here to a growing list of tennis achievements which includes taking out the junior boys singles at the Australian Open in 2009.

    In other women’s results, fourth seed Miharu Imanishi (JPN) opened her campaign with a 6-4 6-3 victory over 2012 AWP champion Yuxuan Zhang (CHN), and will take on rising Chinese star Shilin Xu.

    Xu, who won the Youth Olympic Games gold medal earlier this year in Nanjing and is currently the world No.1 junior, defeated experienced Chinese Taipei player Chin-Wei Chan 6-1 6-4.

    Xu and Imanishi will play in the quarterfinals on Friday.

    For draws, scores and player information, check out our dedicated guide to the Australian Open Asia-Pacific Wildcard Play-off.

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    Stars of the game on Rod Laver Arena as part of Kids Tennis Day at Australian Open 2014; Getty Images
    Hit the Target is a new interactive game giving two lucky winners the chance to play on Rod Laver Arena with the world’s best tennis players in January.
    | 17 November, 2014

    Hit the Target with the stars at Rod Laver Arena this summer

    By Tennis Australia

    How good is your aim? Can you hit a tennis ball from the MCG, the Eureka Tower or a hot air balloon, into Rod Laver Arena?

    Thousands of Australians are expected to jump online and play Hit the Target – a new interactive game that gives two lucky winners the chance to play on centre court with the world’s best tennis players in January.

    The idea is simple: fire a tennis ball from one of three popular landmarks – MCG, Eureka Tower and a hot air balloon – and see if you can land it in Rod Laver Arena.

    There are more than 1500 instant prizes to win including Beats headphones, iPad minis, Official Australian Open Wilson tennis balls, tennis racquets and the ultimate prize – a trip to Melbourne Park in January.

    Tennis Australia’s Director of Participation Craig Morris is confident this game will broaden the tennis audience.

    “This is a great way for people who don’t play tennis to still feel as though they are a part of the whole tennis experience, part of the Australian Open,” he said.

    “Hit the Target is another pathway for people to get involved with tennis. Once they start playing the game, or are interacting with us on social media, then the idea of actually picking up a racquet and getting on court becomes even more appealing.”

    Hit the Target is part of the AO Tennis Blitz, which encourages people of all ages and abilities to pick up a racquet and have a hit.

    Every person registering for Hit the Target will earn 5000 points for their chosen town and the chance to secure an Australian Open 2015 player to support during the tournament.

    Two hundred and fifty six towns across Australia will be aligned with a main draw player [128 men and 128 women]. The town with the highest number of points will choose either the world No.1 male or female player for their town to cheer on at Australian Open 2015. Subsequent towns will be alternatively matched to male and female players.

    Hit the Target runs until 10 December 2014 – check out the below graphic to see how the game works.

    To play, visit hitthetarget.aoblitz.com.au, and view the Hit the Target teaser video.

    The AO Tennis Blitz and is proudly supported by Medibank and Hisense; keep up to date with all the latest news on Facebook, and on Twitter using #hitthetarget.


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    Denis Kudla (R) and Irina Falconi have been awarded the US reciprocal wildcards into Australian Open 2015; Getty Images
    Americans Denis Kudla and Irina Falconi will take their place in the main draw at Australian Open 2015 after winning wildcards into the men's and women's singles events.
    | 17 November, 2014

    Kudla, Falconi win Australian Open wildcards

    By USTA

    Americans Denis Kudla and Irina Falconi will take their place in the main draw at Australian Open 2015 after winning wildcards into the men’s and women’s singles events.

    The two players were awarded wildcards after finishing atop the USTA Pro Circuit Australian Open Wild Card Challenge standings.

    The USTA and Tennis Australia have a reciprocal agreement in which men’s and women’s singles wildcards into the US Open and Australian Open main draws are exchanged.

    For the men, the standings were calculated based on performances at three ATP Challenger events – Charlottesville, Knoxville and Champaign – in the United States. The women’s standings reflected player results at ITF $50,000 tournaments in Macon, New Braunfels and Captiva Island.

    Kudla, aged 22 and on the comeback trail from mononucleosis, clinched the men’s wildcard when Marcos Giron, the only player who could surpass him in the challenge standings, lost in the quarterfinals in Champaign.

    Kudla earned 44 points in the wildcard challenge by reaching the semifinals in Charlottesville two weeks ago, followed by quarterfinal showings in Knoxville and Champaign.

    Currently ranked 125th, Kudla qualified for the main draw of the Australian Open in 2012 and 2014. He broke into the Top 100 in 2013 after advancing to the second round of Wimbledon, his first Grand Slam main draw victory.

    Also in 2013, Kudla qualified for the French Open, reached the second round of the US Open and advanced to the quarterfinals of the ATP Wimbledon warm-up event at Queen’s Club, his best ATP result.

    This year, he qualified for the Australian Open and won his opening-round match at Wimbledon before losing to Kei Nishikori in the second round.

    Kudla holds six USTA Pro Circuit singles titles, including the ATP Challenger title in Winnetka this year, and four doubles titles.

    He was ranked No. 3 in the world junior rankings and reached the boys’ singles final at the 2010 US Open, where he lost to Jack Sock.

    Former world No.73 Irina Falconi, 24, clinched the women’s wildcard last weekend, finishing with 109 points after winning in New Braunfels, Texas and by reaching the semifinals in Macon, Georgi.

    Falconi is currently ranked 114th, approaching the cutoff for direct entry into the Australian Open 2015 main draw.

    If she does ultimately receive direct entry, Jennifer Brady would then earn the wildcard after finishing in second place in the challenge standings.

    Falconi is making her fourth Australian Open main draw appearance.

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    Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley (R) and tournament referee Wayne McKewen (second from left) during the Australian Open 2014 official draw at Melbourne Park on January 10, 2014 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Graham Denholm/Getty Images)
    Ever wondered how the tournament draws are composed? Or where you can watch your favourite players practising? Find out about these things and more in our tournament facts guide.
    | 10 November, 2014

    Australian Open tournament facts

    By ausopen.com

    Ever wondered how the tournament draws are composed? Or where you can watch your favourite players practising? Find out about these things and more in our tournament facts guide.


    The singles draw ceremony will be held on Friday 16 January. The fields are comprised as follows:

    Men’s singles
    128 (104 direct entries based on rankings, 16 qualifiers, eight wildcards).

    Women’s singles
    128 (108 direct entries, 12 qualifiers, eight wildcards).

    Men’s doubles
    64 pairs, including seven wildcards.

    Women’s doubles
    64 pairs, including seven wildcards.

    Mixed doubles
    32 pairs, including seven wildcards.

    Computer rankings

    Computer rankings are used as a basis for the seeding of 32 players in the singles championships. The first and second seeds are placed, respectively, at the top and bottom of the draw. All remaining seeds are then randomly drawn and placed in designated positions in the draw, followed by the remainder of the field, which is randomly drawn from top to bottom of the draw by IBM computer technology.

    Prize money

    The Australian Open will offer record prize money of AUD$36.3 million in 2015. A breakdown of prize money distribution will be available prior to the tournament at ausopen.com.

    Grand Slam ranking points

    Players win twice as many points for a win in a Grand Slam match as they do for winning a match at the next level – ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and WTA Tour Premier (Mandatory) tournaments.

    Electronic review

    Rod Laver Arena, Hisense Arena, Margaret Court Arena, Show Courts 2 and 3 and Outside Courts 6 and 8 will utilise Hawk-Eye technology to conduct electronic reviews of disputed line calls. The Australian Open adopts the ‘three-plus-one’ electronic review system. Players will receive three incorrect challenges during each set and a fourth challenge if a set goes to a tiebreaker.

    Scores and tennis action

    Margaret Court Arena and Hisense Arena have new state-of-the-art screens. In 2015 there will be an upgraded giant screen in Garden Square (subject to final approval).

    Practice sessions

    Emirates Skydeck will provide an elevated platform over the major practice courts, allowing fans to watch their favourite players warming up. Screens and information towers will provide details on where and when the stars are practising.

    Court surface

    The vibrant Plexicushion surface enhances ball visibility. Trademarked as ‘Australian Open True Blue’, the courts are two-toned, allowing for greater contrast and improved depth perception.

    Wilson balls

    Wilson supplies more than 4000 dozen tennis balls for use during the tournament. Six new balls are used for the five-minute warm-up and the first seven games and six new balls are provided every nine games thereafter.

    Illegal gambling and match fixing

    Tennis Australia has a zero tolerance policy on illegal gambling, match-fixing and the communication of sensitive information that may affect the outcome of a match, and will investigate all reported instances.

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    Todd Woodbridge (L) and Emirates Airline staff at Melbourne Airport, where it was announced the Australian Open will form a partnership with Emirates Airline; SDP Media
    The Australian Open and Emirates Airline have announced a new Grand Slam partnership, launching a multi-year deal that will see the two global brands unite for the first time. The announcement was made at Melbourne Airport on Sunday, with Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley describing the global airline as “a perfect fit” for Australia’s largest annual sporting event. “We are delighted to join […]
    | 27 October, 2014

    Australian Open takes off with Emirates

    By ausopen.com

    The Australian Open and Emirates Airline have announced a new Grand Slam partnership, launching a multi-year deal that will see the two global brands unite for the first time.

    The announcement was made at Melbourne Airport on Sunday, with Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley describing the global airline as “a perfect fit” for Australia’s largest annual sporting event.

    “We are delighted to join forces with Emirates and welcome the airline to the Australian Open family,” Tiley said.

    “Emirates is a prestigious international brand that closely aligns with our values and links perfectly with our ambition to extend our global reach. Each year we pride ourselves on presenting a world class sporting event at Melbourne Park, and sharing that experience with millions of tennis fans worldwide.

    “Emirates is another world class brand that strives to bring people together all over the world, every day. We look forward to commencing our relationship this summer and we’re excited to grow the partnership into the future.”

    Sir Tim Clark, President of Emirates Airline, said the new deal reflected the airline’s commitment to tennis and its strategic ambition to promote Australia as a travel destination.

    “The Australian Open is a first class sporting event drawing a truly global audience to Melbourne Park each summer, while millions more watch the action on screen,” Sir Tim said.

    “Our commitment to the Australian Open is a natural extension of our existing tennis sponsorship portfolio around the globe, which now includes three of the four Grand Slams.

    “Partnering with the Australian Open demonstrates our ongoing commitment to Australians. Sharing and supporting our customers’ passions is key to our sponsorship activity, and we plan to utilise this partnership to enhance the fan experience and create an even stronger connection with our customers in Australia,” Sir Tim concluded.

    Emirates’ tennis portfolio includes some of the highest profile events on the tennis calendar, including the Grand Slams Roland Garros and the US Open, the US Open Series, the Dubai Tennis Championships (UAE), BNP Paribas Open (USA), Barcelona Open (Spain), Internazionali BNL d’Italia (Italy) and Rogers Cup (Canada).

    Emirates is the official airline of the ATP World Tour and naming rights sponsor of the ATP rankings, and from today will be recognised as the official airline partner of the Australian Open.

    In Australia, Emirates’ diverse sponsorship portfolio includes the Emirates Melbourne Cup, Emirates Australian Open golf tournament, PGA Championship, Perth International, Collingwood Football Club, the Adelaide Festival and the Sydney and Melbourne Symphony Orchestras.

    Emirates operates 84 flights a week from Australia to Dubai, including four flights per day onboard the flagship A380 aircraft from Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. The expansive global route network offers Australians connections to more than 140 destinations in more than 80 countries worldwide.

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    Li Na celebrates her Australian Open 2014 victory at Brighton Beach; Getty Images
    Australian Open champion Li Na is set to return to Melbourne in January as a "Friend of the Australian Open".
    | 09 October, 2014

    Li Na set to return for Australian Open 2015

    By ausopen.com

    Australian Open champion Li Na is set to return to Melbourne in January.

    China’s trailblazing Grand Slam champion recently announced her retirement from tennis but is looking forward to returning to Melbourne Park, the scene of her stunning 2014 victory, in a new role as “Friend of the Australian Open“.

    “I’m so happy to be named as a Friend of the Australian Open,” Li said from Shanghai today.

    “I love coming to Melbourne and it has always been my favourite tournament.

    “In China I think we all feel that the Australian Open is the Grand Slam closest to us, the one that is easiest for fans to follow and get excited about. I’m so happy that by winning the Australian Open, it was like I could share my enjoyment of the tournament with the whole of China, and it was a victory my whole country could delight in.

    “Coming back to Melbourne is a little bit like coming home. The fans have supported me throughout my career and I have so many friends there.

    “I’m so happy to be helping my country experience the Australian Open and want to share my experiences with everyone.

    “I can’t wait to come and just enjoy the Australian Open. I’m looking forward to being a tourist – going to my favourite Chinese restaurants, doing some shopping and watching the tennis.”

    Said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley: “We are delighted to announce a post playing-career partnership with Li Na. She truly is a Friend of the Australian Open and who better to talk about what makes the event so special.

    “Li Na’s journey in tennis has been an inspiration to millions, both in China and around the world. She has been the catalyst for the growth of the sport in her home nation and her charm, warmth and humour has endeared her to fans everywhere.

    “I can’t wait to welcome Li Na back to Melbourne for Australian Open 2015.”

    The announcement was made today at the inaugural Australian Open Business Breakfast in Shanghai, sponsored by Kia and ANZ.

    Li Na joined Australian tennis champion Todd Woodbridge to host the event for Chinese business partners and media.

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    Novak Djokovic signs autographs for fans at Australian Open 2014; Getty Images
    Single session tickets for Australian Open 2015 are now on sale through Ticketek.
    | 07 October, 2014

    Single session tickets now on sale!

    By ausopen.com

    Single session tickets for Australian Open 2015 are now on sale through Ticketek.

    Secure your tickets and get closer to the action than ever before at Melbourne Park from 19 January to 1 February!

    Australian Open multiple session packages are also available through Ticketek.

    > Get tickets for Australian Open 2015

    Single session tickets for all Australian Open Series events – the Brisbane International, Hopman Cup, Apia International Sydney, Hobart International and Adelaide’s World Tennis Challenge – will go on sale from Wednesday 8 October at 9am (local time in all states).

    Multiple session packages for these events will also go on sale at the same time.

    > Get Brisbane International tickets

    > Get Hopman Cup tickets

    > Get Apia International Sydney tickets

    > Get Hobart International tickets

    > Get World Tennis Challenge tickets

    And there is plenty for the youngsters to get excited about – tickets for the biggest kids event of the summer, Kids Tennis Day, are now on sale!

    > Get Kids Tennis Day tickets

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    Margaret Court (L) and Nick Kyrgios stand on the redeveloped Margaret Court Arena as part of the official launch of Australian Open 2015; Fiona Hamilton
    Australian Open 2015 promises to be even more player and fan-friendly, with a host of new initiatives set to make the "Happy Slam" even happier.
    | 07 October, 2014

    Get closer to the action at Australian Open 2015

    By ausopen.com

    Australian Open 2015 promises to be even more player and fan-friendly.

    The Grand Slam players have nicknamed “the Happy Slam” today unveiled a beautifully refurbished Margaret Court Arena to now boast three-retractable roof stadiums, which will ensure play can continue regardless of weather conditions.

    “We are determined to continually push ourselves to new heights in terms of facilities, service and the overall experience for players and fans,” Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said at today’s official tournament launch.

    “We want to make the Happy Slam even happier.”

    Initiatives for Australian Open 2015 include:

    • a 10 per cent increase in player prize money
    • a winner’s cheque of $3 million
    • 9600 seats in Hisense Arena now available to ground pass holders
    • a special Rafael Nadal charity event at Margaret Court Arena on Wednesday 14 January
    • Margaret Court Arena (7500 seats) ticketed for day and night sessions for the first eight days of the tournament
    • a “People’s Court” to give fans an authentic Australian Open playing experience.

    Tennis Australia President Steve Healy officially welcomed media and special guests to the launch and the first look at the new Margaret Court Arena.

    Living legend Margaret Court made a surprise on-court appearance for the first match in the new arena, pairing up with Victorian Sports Minister Damian Drum for a hit of mixed doubles against teenage tennis sensation Nick Kyrgios and Australian Fed Cup representative Storm Sanders.

    “Thanks to the Victorian Government we have an incredible new tennis facility. Just like the Australian living legend it is named after, this venue is world class and does Australian tennis proud,” Mr Healy said.

    The court already holds special memories for Kyrgios, whose breakthrough 2014 all started at MCA when he pushed the then world No.28 Benoit Paire to a thrilling five sets in front of an enthusiastic home crowd.

    Other initiatives for next January include:

    • a host of top players to be involved in a Kids Tennis Day extravaganza
    • David Hall to be inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame
    • an Australia Day tribute to Margaret Court on Margaret Court Arena
    • Martina Navratilova to return to the event on the 30th anniversary of her win in 1985 to present the women’s trophy
    • more shade, extra seating and better areas for fans to move across the site
    • eleven additional food and beverage outlets at Margaret Court Arena
    • a brand new flagship Australian Open Shop located in the Margaret Court Arena undercroft
    • an upgraded version of the hugely popular Social Shack, with more opportunities to get closer to the players
    • Neale Fraser to be honoured at a special Legends Lunch on the final Saturday
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    Rafael Nadal in action at Australian Open 2014; Getty Images
    Rafael Nadal was today announced a ‘Friend of the Australian Open’ as part of a new concept helping to promote Australia’s Grand Slam on the world stage.
    | 07 October, 2014

    Rafael Nadal named “Friend of the Australian Open”

    By ausopen.com

    Rafael Nadal was today announced a “Friend of the Australian Open” at official Australian Open 2015 launch events in Melbourne and Shanghai.

    “I like to think I’ve always been friendly with the Australian Open, but I’m excited it is now official,” the 2009 men’s singles champion joked.

    “I’m already focused on coming back to the Australian Open in January. It was a very emotional tournament for me this year. For me, it is important to win the Australian Open again and to achieve that, I need to continue to work hard, stay healthy and be able to compete.

    “It’s a tournament I love so much, where the warm conditions are great and there is a fantastic crowd.

    “There is a great atmosphere, the facilities are amazing and each year they keep improving. It’s the beginning of the year and everyone, the fans, the staff and the volunteers, are all very happy and friendly and in a good mood,” Nadal continued.

    Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley formally named Rafael Nadal a “Friend of the Australian Open” at this morning’s tournament launch at Melbourne Park, staged on the newly redeveloped Margaret Court Arena.

    “Friends of the Australian Open” is a new concept helping to promote Australia’s Grand Slam on the world stage.

    “Without a doubt Rafael Nadal is one of the most exciting sportsmen in the world today,” Tiley said.

    “Rafa exemplifies the values we all work hard to uphold – excellence, humility, teamwork and loyalty – and it’s a coup for us to work with him to promote not just our event, but our wonderful sport, around the world.”

    Nadal will collaborate with Tennis Australia to stage a special charity event on Wednesday 14 January at Margaret Court Arena ahead of Australian Open 2015.

    “I’ve heard that the new roof on Margaret Court Arena is now finished and the pictures I’ve seen are amazing. The Australian fans are always fantastic and I hope they’ll come and experience the finished stadium at my special charity event,” said the 14-time Grand Slam champion.

    Tennis Australia Commercial Director Richard Heaselgrave and Australian tennis champion Todd Woodbridge hosted guests of Kia and ANZ at the launch function in Shanghai as part of a new series of events scheduled to be rolled out in Asia over the next 12 months.

    “Events like this show how serious the Australian Open is about doing business and promoting the sport and our events in Asia,” Heaselgrave said.

    “It’s wonderful to have a champion like Rafael Nadal, a true friend of the Australian Open, associated with our event.

    “This is just the beginning of our new focus in the region which will see us grow and create new content for multiple platforms, increasing exposure and opportunities for our partners,” Heaselgrave continued.

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    Fans photograph a giant Australian Open tennis ball in Melbourne's Bourke Street Mall; Fiona Hamilton
    This week the Australian Open is asking Melbourne-based fans to ‘Get Court Up’ in Australian Open 2015 via social media for the chance to win tickets to the tennis.
    | 07 October, 2014

    Get Court Up in Australian Open 2015 for your chance to win

    By ausopen.com

    This week the Australian Open is asking Melbourne-based fans to ‘Get Court Up’ in Australian Open 2015 for the chance to win tickets to the tennis.

    With just 15 weeks until the opening Grand Slam of the 2015 season, Australian Open launch-week festivities are well underway throughout Melbourne’s CBD with giant tennis balls descending on high-profile city locations including Bourke Street Mall, City Square, Federation Square and Southbank Spillway on Tuesday morning, and the Australian Open tram hitting the rails on routes 5, 6, 8, 16 and 72.

    As part of the fun, we’re asking tennis fans to take photographs of the giant tennis balls and tram and share them on their Twitter or Instagram accounts.

    The photos judged the most colourful, creative, artistic and/or entertaining will be awarded pairs of ground passes throughout the week.

    All you have to do to enter the competition is:

    • follow the Australian Open on Twitter or Instagram @AustralianOpen
    • share a selfie or a photo of one of the giant tennis balls that have landed around Melbourne or the Australian Open tram on your Twitter or Instagram account
    • tag your post @AustralianOpen #GetCourtUp

    We’ll be sharing our favourite photos – and awarding prizes – throughout the week, so make sure you’re following @AustralianOpen on Twitter and Instagram to see the creative ways tennis fans Get Court Up in Australian Open 2015.


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    Novak Djokovic with members of the Parkes, NSW community as part of the AO Tennis Blitz during Australian Open 2014; Tennis Australia
    Designed to encourage more Australians to pick up a racquet and have a hit, the AO Tennis Blitz engages schools, clubs and individuals in tennis via a series of events, community showcases and the first ever ‘Win a Wildcard’ competition.
    | 07 October, 2014

    AO Tennis Blitz rolls into Australian Open 2015

    By ausopen.com

    At Australian Open 2014 the world’s top tennis players were thrilled to learn they had been assigned an Aussie town to cheer them along their Grand Slam campaign at Melbourne Park.

    So began the AO Tennis Blitz journey.

    Where else would you find Novak Djokovic aligned with the outback town of Parkes, New South Wales, Andy Murray comparing the heat of Melbourne to his partner town of Alice Springs, Northern Territory, or Maria Sharapova being tweeted by the mayor of Warrnambool in Victoria?

    Designed to encourage more Australians to pick up a racquet and have a hit, the AO Tennis Blitz engages schools, clubs and individuals in tennis via a series of events, community showcases and the first ever ‘Win a Wildcard’ competition.

    A series of Win a Wildcard mixed doubles tournaments will take place around Australia this month, with local winners of A, B and C grades travelling to Melbourne Park in December to play off in the finals.

    The ultimate winning pair will take home the prize of a lifetime – a wildcard into the Australian Open 2015 mixed doubles, including the chance to rub shoulders with all the stars of the sport in the locker rooms, access to the official Kia courtesy cars and player restaurant, and exclusive player perks.

    B and C grade semifinalists will be rewarded with the chance to play their finals matches at Melbourne Park in the second week of the Australian Open.

    Local hopefuls will lace up their tennis shoes this weekend when the Win a Wildcard competition hits Melbourne Park. Mixed doubles pairs will battle it out for their chance at Grand Slam glory on court this Sunday 12 October from 10:30am.

    All AO Tennis Blitz participants will earn points for their local community, with the top 256 points-scoring towns to be assigned their very own Australian Open player to support in January.

    For more information visit tennis.com.au.

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    Fans of China's Na Li watch her in the Australian Open 2014 women's final against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia; Getty Images
    The Grand Slam of Asia Pacific is intensifying its push into the region, with the Australian Open today unveiling a series of initiatives targeting China.
    | 07 October, 2014

    Australian Open steps up China plan

    By ausopen.com

    The Grand Slam of Asia Pacific is intensifying its push into the region.

    The Australian Open today unveiled a series of initiatives targeting China with the aim of further engaging the rapidly increasing tennis audience in Asia’s biggest market.

    The plan includes:

    • An eight-month campaign of events for fans and corporate partners focused on China
    • 14-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal named a ‘Friend of the Australian Open’ to help promote the tournament in Asia
    • A business breakfast with special guest Li Na for Australian Open partners in Shanghai on Thursday
    • The third annual AO Wildcard Play-off to be held in Shenzhen in November

    “I like to think I’ve always been friendly with the Australian Open, but I’m excited it’s now official,” Nadal joked after his new ‘Friend of the Australian Open’ status was announced.

    “For the past few years we’ve taken the Australian Open trophies through China and Asia as an exercise to build awareness of the event and the sport,” Tennis Australia Commercial Director Richard Heaselgrave said.

    “We’ve deliberately narrowed our immediate focus to the major cities of Shanghai and Shenzhen and plan to build strategic opportunities for engagement, both with the growing fan base for tennis in the region, and commercial and corporate partners.”

    The initiatives are expected to range from Ballkid trials to corporate Pro-Ams, legends events and activations in China around the Australian Open, including during Janaury.

    China registered the highest single rating broadcast of Australian Open 2014, with nearly 20 million viewers watching Li Na win the women’s singles final. Of the 342 million global viewing audience in 2014, Asia Pacific accounted for 177 million and China alone 107 million.

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    David Hall in action during the Wheelchair Tennis event at the 2004 Athens Paralympics; Getty Images
    Australian wheelchair tennis legend David Hall will be inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame during Australian Open 2015.
    | 07 October, 2014

    David Hall inducted into Australian Tennis Hall of Fame

    By ausopen.com

    Australian wheelchair tennis legend David Hall will be inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame during Australian Open 2015.

    At a special ceremony during the tournament Hall will unveil a bronze bust in his likeness, which will join the statues of other Australian tennis greats in Melbourne Park’s Garden Square.

    It has been a year of accolades for Hall, who last month was also nominated for the International Tennis Hall of Fame for his achievements in wheelchair tennis.

    The winner of a staggering nine Australian Opens, eight US Opens and seven British Opens, Hall is one of the most accomplished wheelchair tennis players in history.

    The 44-year-old was today thrilled to learn of his impending induction.

    “It is a wonderful honour, especially considering the rich history Australian tennis has had over the years,” Hall said.

    “To be thought of as being a small part of that history is very humbling for me. Tennis has given me more than I could ever repay and for that I will always be grateful.”

    Born in Sydney, New South Wales, Hall began playing wheelchair tennis at age 19, three years after losing his legs after being hit by a car.

    He went on to enjoy a stellar career, completing six seasons atop the world rankings throughout the 1990s and 2000s and triumphing at least once at every major tournament in the sport, finishing his career with 19 Super Series crowns.

    His success extends to the Paralympic Games; at Sydney in 2000 he won gold in the singles, then claimed silver at Athens in 2004.

    The Australian helped lead his country to four World Team Cups and won two NEC Singles Masters titles, in 2002 and 2004.

    He was also adept in doubles, becoming world No.1 for the first time in 1994 and finishing his career with an impressive 397-89 win-loss record.

    Since retiring in 2006 Hall has dedicated himself to promoting wheelchair tennis. He is the Optus Australia Wheelchair Ambassador and also sits on the selection panel for Australia’s Most Outstanding Athlete with a Disability as part of the Newcombe Medal, Australian Tennis Awards.

    He mentors athletes within the New South Wales Wheelchair Tennis program, and in 2010 was appointed a Wheelchair Tennis Ambassador by the International Tennis Federation.

    He later teamed with long-time coach Rich Berman to produce the instructional video Let’s Roll – Learning Wheelchair Tennis with the Pros, which was released in 2013 as a resource for new players to the sport.

    Hall was awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia in 2001 and inducted into the New South Wales Hall of Champions in 2009 and Sport Australia Hall of Fame in 2010.

    Previous Australian Tennis Hall of Fame inductees:

    2014: Kerry Reid
    2013: Judy Dalton
    2012: Ken Fletcher
    2011: Owen Davidson
    2010: Mark Woodforde, Todd Woodbridge
    2009: Wendy Turnbull
    2008: Pat Rafter
    2007: Mark Edmondson
    2006: Daphne Akhurst
    2005: Australian Open Centenary
    2004: Brian Tobin
    2003: Pat Cash
    2002: Mervyn Rose, Thelma (Coyne) Long
    2001: Mal Anderson, Nancye (Wynne) Bolton
    2000: Ken McGregor
    1999: Australia inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame
    1998: John Newcombe, Tony Roche, Lesley (Turner) Bowrey, Adrian Quist
    1997: Fred Stolle, Jack Crawford, Gerald Patterson
    1996: Frank Sedgman, John Bromwich, Sir Norman Brookes, Ashley Cooper, Harry Hopman
    1995: Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall
    1994: Roy Emerson, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Neale Fraser
    1993: Rod Laver, Margaret Smith (Court)

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    The all-new ausopen.com emphasises tournament information that fans most want to access in an easy-to-navigate design for all desktop and mobile platforms.
    | 29 September, 2014

    New ausopen.com puts fans in the box seat

    By ausopen.com

    Ausopen.com has today unveiled a fresh, new, contemporary look for the launch of Australian Open 2015.

    The new site emphasises tournament information that fans most want to access, in an easy-to-navigate design that can be viewed across all desktop and mobile platforms.

    The streamlined site features easy access to ticketing, membership and event information, job applications and tournament news.

    “We wanted to give fans another experience which simplifies their access to information that we know they are after at this time of year, including tickets, and it was important that the site could be viewed across a range of devices,” explains Kim Trengove, Manager Digital & Publishing at Tennis Australia.

    The new-look ausopen.com will act as a prelude to the official Australian Open 2015 tournament website, developed by Australian Open technology partner IBM, which will go live ahead of the tournament in January.

    Fans can still access information – such as scores, draws and player profiles – from last year’s tournament.

    Following Australian Open 2015, ausopen.com will revert back to its current, more streamlined format, and will remain like this outside of tournament dates.

    “This will serve to keep fans up to date with the most relevant tournament news, special offers and updates on ticketing and membership information throughout the year,” Trengove says.

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    A Ballkid in action at Australian Open 2014; Getty Images
    The squad of Australian Open 2015 Ballkids is taking shape, and the talented hopefuls are training hard ahead of the year's first Grand Slam event in January.
    | 26 September, 2014

    Ballkids honing their skills

    By Matt Trollope

    And then there were 450 …

    That’s the current size of the contingent of hopefuls vying for a place in the 380-strong squad of Ballkids that will work matches at Australian Open 2015.

    They applied for one of the prized positions back in January – among 2000 applicants – and having come through Level One trials in March and Level Two trials in May, are now being put through their paces ahead of the final squad announcement at the end of October.

    Such a pathway is what tournament operations coordinator Tania Hall says makes the Australian Open Ballkids the best in the world.

    “We have one of the most intensive training programs of the four Grand Slams,” she says.

    “As a result, by the time the kids get out there in January, being a Ballkid is second nature for them.”

    The Ballkids in training have since August, been honing their skills with volunteers hitters; recreational players who take to the courts at Melbourne Park to play matches which then provides the kids with practice working a court.

    The finalised squad then participates in the December Showdown, something of a dress rehearsal for the main event in January. Matches in junior Australian Championship tournaments and the Australian Open Wildcard Play-off provide further opportunities for Ballkids to put their training into practice.

    Ballkids range in age from 12 to 15, with many of the older ones acting as mentors to their younger counterparts. This has come about through the Ballkid leadership team, an initiative introduced three years ago and which acts similarly to a school’s student representative council (SRC).

    In 2014, 150 kids applied to be a part of the leadership team; they submitted essays outlining their reasons behind wanting to be considered, went through a formal interview process, took part in group activities and were presented with mock scenarios that tested their responses and attitudes in certain situations.

    The 20 successful applicants then took part in a leadership development workshop at Melbourne Park presented by The Summit, a three-hour course in which they participated in team-building and self-awareness activities and even got to hold a python, an exercise which encouraged them to face their fears.

    “(Stepping outside their comfort zone) is what we want them to do,” Hall explains.

    “We don’t want the kids to be the type of leaders who sit back and let everything happen around them. Rather, we want to give them the confidence to take that initiative and give everything a go. At the end of the day (those activities) are the type of thing that shows them that they can.”

    Other exciting opportunities exist for especially talented and dedicated Ballkids. The top performers from 2014, Jake Lee and Zoe Theodorakopoulos, travelled to Beijing in late September to work at the China Open, a tournament that adopts the same Ballkid standards and procedures as the Australian Open.

    During this time, six Chinese Ballkids were selected to work at Australian Open 2015, while in late October, through the tournament’s major sponsor KIA, 20 Korean Ballkids will be included in the final squad of 380.

    For those currently training who don’t progress to the Australian Open 2015 squad, Hall says there are still plenty of opportunities.

    “The upside is they’ve had five months of training with us and exposure to the knowledge we can provide; it’s very specialised what we do,” she explains.

    “Hopefully next year those kids that don’t get in this year will come back and try out again as they have the benefit of all that experience with our training program.”

    Want to work at the Australian Open as a Ballkid? Register your interest for AO2016 at [email protected]

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    (L-R) Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Marin Cilic, Stan Wawrinka, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal; Getty Images
    Major victories for Marin Cilic and Stan Wawrinka in 2014 have signalled the possible end to the reign of the Big Four. Will we see the guard continue to change at Australian Open 2015?
    | 24 September, 2014

    AO2015 men: is the reign of the Big Four over?

    By Matt Trollope

    Has the reign of the Big Four ended?

    That was the question on everyone’s minds at the pointy end of the recent US Open, when, instead of getting the highly-anticipated Roger Federer versus Novak Djokovic final, Marin Cilic and Kei Nishikori each staged stunning semifinal upsets to prevent it.

    For the first time in almost 10 years, fans were witnessing a Grand Slam final devoid of any members of the illustrious quartet of Federer, Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.

    Yet after watching Cilic put away a backhand winner to become one of the most surprising Grand Slam champions in recent history, another question arose – was such a result really the sign of a changing of the guard, or merely a flash in the pan?

    It is actually quite difficult to tell.

    We saw the first signs of change right here at the Australian Open in 2014 when Stan Wawrinka romped to the title, beating Djokovic and Nadal en route. He became the first non-Big Four member to win a major title since Juan Martin del Potro claimed the 2009 US Open.

    Cilic was among several players who highlighted Wawrinka’s triumph as something of a watershed moment. “Wawrinka opened the doors for us from the ‘second’ line, and I think most of the guys have now bigger belief that they can do it on the Grand Slams,” he said ahead of the US Open final.

    Yet Wawrinka’s victory had something of an asterisk beside it, given the fact Nadal’s back betrayed him from the second set onwards in their final. Sure enough, the Spaniard was back in the winners’ circle a few months later in Paris, claiming an incredible ninth title at Roland Garros in the past 10 years. His victim in the final was Djokovic; seeing this duo duke it out in the French decider seemed something of a return to normality.

    Such a feeling persisted at Wimbledon, where Djokovic met Federer in the final and erased the disappointment of Paris with his second title at the All England Club. And we were merely a shade away from seeing a repeat of that final in New York, until the advent of Cilic and Nisikori.

    With the Grand Slam season concluded, the status quo remains relatively intact, with Djokovic, Nadal and Federer still occupying the top three places in the rankings. Yet their stranglehold on the game appears to be loosening.

    A momentous year in Djokovic’s personal life – marriage and a baby – plus the inevitable come-down after his emotional Wimbledon victory have combined to diminish some of his trademark intensity. Injuries have returned to plague Nadal, sidelining him since Wimbledon. Federer, despite a heartening return to form in 2014, is now 33 years old; when he comes to Melbourne it will have been two-and-a-half years since his last major triumph. Murray hasn’t been the same since winning Wimbledon in 2013 and then undergoing back surgery; this season he has failed to reach a tournament final.

    The Big Four will undoubtedly be the favourites if they all arrive fit and healthy in Australia in January, but there are, for the first time in a long time, other legitimate contenders to consider.

    Leading the way are Cilic and Wawrinka, who will look to prove that their Grand Slam triumphs were no flukes. Hard courts are tailor-made for Cilic’s brand of controlled aggression while Wawrinka fares pretty well on them too, having gone deep at the US Open in addition to his title run Down Under. The added pressure of expectation may fall on the shoulders of a newly-crowned major champion, but accompanying that is often the belief of knowing they have what it takes to do it again.

    Behind them is an impressive young brigade featuring Nishikori, Milos Raonic and Grigor Dimitrov, all of whom have made Grand Slam breakthroughs in 2014. Nishikori’s came in New York, while Raonic and Dimitrov flourished at Wimbledon, each progressing to the semifinals. The members of this exciting trio are all now firmly entrenched in the world’s top 10 and will be eyeing more success in Melbourne.

    Peppered among those names are several veterans who have been at the top of the game for many years and remain capable of springing an upset at a Grand Slam event. David Ferrer continues to hold down a top-five ranking while Tomas Berdych has been productive at the majors in 2014, reaching quarterfinals in Paris and New York while advancing to the semis at Melbourne Park. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga’s recent Masters victory in Toronto signalled a return to form for the popular Frenchman, and he is knocking on the door of the top 10.

    From a local perspective, Australia will field one of biggest contingents in the last 15 years thanks to having six players in the top 100, many of whom are young, exciting talents. Joining the perennial former No.1 Lleyton Hewitt will be prodigious youngsters Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic and the impressively late-blooming Sam Groth and Marinko Matosevic, giving local fans plenty to cheer about.

    After years of stability throughout the glorious reign of the Big Four, significant change could very well be upon us in the men’s game. The game’s newest star, Cilic, summarises it thus:

    “I feel it’s going to definitely be much bigger competition from next year,” he said.

    “I feel the guys at the top are going pull the other guys, too. I think the game of tennis is definitely going to evolve much more.”

    We’ll get our first look at this evolution at Australian Open 2015.

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    (L-R) Eugenie Bouchard, Petra Kvitova, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Simona Halep; Getty Images
    Will Serena Williams emerge from her position of favouritism to claim her sixth Australian Open title? Or will the chaos currently reigning on the women's tour throw up a new, unexpected champion?
    | 24 September, 2014

    AO2015 women: Serena’s title to win?

    By Matt Trollope

    After a year or two where stability reigned at the top of the women’s tennis tree, relative chaos has ensued.

    Reigning Australian Open champion Li Na’s retirement has left the sport bereft of one of its brightest and best stars. Victoria Azarenka has shut down her 2014 season due to injury. Top four stars Simona Halep, Maria Sharapova and Petra Kvitova have failed to fire since their stunning exploits at Roland Garros and Wimbledon. So too has Eugenie Bouchard, slipping to world No.9 after a scorching first half of season 2014.

    At the recent US Open, an astonishing nine of the world’s top 10 fell before the quarterfinals. And perhaps in the most notable stat of all, eight different women filled the four Grand Slam final slots of 2014, something that had not happened for 37 years.

    Such events harken back to the disordered scenes that reigned following the retirement of then No.1 Justine Henin in May 2008. It took until 2012 for Serena Williams, Sharapova and Azarenka to cement their strong, sustained presence as the tour’s top three.

    So where do we look for guidance when it comes to predicting success at Australian Open 2015?

    Williams acts as a default setting in these instances. She is the WTA’s queen bee and world No.1, though it may have even been tempting to lump the American in with those aforementioned talents given her unusually tepid performances at the Grand Slams this year.

    Yet that was before she romped through the field at the US Open to win her 18th major and restore some order and sparkle to her season. Fit and healthy again, and with motivation high to catch the Grand Slam titans – Steffi Graf and Margaret Court – still ahead of her in the record books, Williams will look to address a somewhat alarming stat; a near five-year span without hoisting the trophy at Melbourne Park.

    She will have plenty of competition aiming to stop her along the way. And that’s because despite many of the WTA’s top players enduring lean patches, they always present a dangerous prospect, particularly at a Grand Slam.

    Halep is one such player, the new world No.2 and a model of consistency at this year’s majors. Her runner-up finish at Roland Garros was the highlight, but in a demonstration of her all-surface prowess, she reached the semis at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals in Australia.

    World No.3 Kvitova and fourth-ranked Sharapova are even more adept at raising their games at the biggest events. Both multiple Grand Slam champions, they have gone deep before at Melbourne Park – Sharapova won the title in 2008, while Kvitova reached the semis in 2012. Plus they will arrive Down Under with the confidence of currently holding a Grand Slam title; Sharapova triumphed in Paris while Kvitova took the honours at the All England Club.

    Below them are two welcome returns to the top 10 – former world No.1s Ana Ivanovic and Caroline Wozniacki. Rediscovering some of her best form since her stellar 2008 season, Ivanovic has claimed four WTA titles and more than 50 match wins in 2014, including victories over Serena and Sharapova. Wozniacki, meanwhile, is thriving thanks to a more aggressive mentality and recently reached her first major final in five years at Flushing Meadows. Both love the Plexicushion of Melbourne Park and will receive plenty of crowd support.

    Threats also lie outside the top 10. A rampaging brigade of young talent – led by Bouchard and also featuring Garbine Muguruza, Belinda Bencic and Madison Keys – have all enjoyed career-best seasons in 2014 and will arrive in Australia keen to capitalise on their momentum and make the move from dangerous up-and-comer to bona fide star.

    At the opposite end of the spectrum are more experienced players such as Azarenka, Venus Williams, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Flavia Pennetta, all currently outside the world’s top 15 but showing glimpses of their best in 2014. Should they arrive at Melbourne Park healthy and motivated, no player wants to find them across the net.

    And what of the Aussie stars? Playing in front of her home fans has never brought out the best in Sam Stosur, but she did reach the third round in 2014 and extended Ivanovic to three sets on Rod Laver Arena. Casey Dellacqua, meanwhile, is enjoying a breakout season, kick-started with a run to the last 16 at Melbourne Park and seeing her vault to a career-high ranking of world No.27. She loves the heat and the hard courts, and will look to improve upon her fourth-round finishes of 2008 and 2014.

    Despite the current parity on the tour and the topsy-turvy seasons of its stars, there’s no doubt the women’s game is poised at an extremely exciting juncture. A sensational changing of the guard seems imminent, but the more experienced champions are intent on maintaining their prominence. It is worthy to note that the sport’s four reigning Grand Slam champions are all multiple major winners – the emerging talents are yet to find a way to penetrate this exclusive circle.

    And there’s still a significant tract of the season left to play out. The Asian swing will provide something of a litmus test for the Australian Open, given it too is contested on hard courts in the Asia-Pacific region.

    With most of the top players in action during this time looking to right the ship, finish their season off strongly and head into 2015 with decent momentum, it sets the stage for a thrilling preview of what’s to come in January.