MELBOURNE, October 10, 2017 (Press Release)
Two of Australia’s rising tennis stars were on hand to launch Australian Open 2018 on Tuesday, taking to the roof of Rod Laver Arena for a friendly hit.
Jaimee Fourlis (18) and Destanee Aiava (17) witnessed first-hand the current refurbishment of Rod Laver Arena, which is taking place as Melbourne Park prepares for its 30th anniversary celebrations come January.
Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley is looking forward to welcoming back all the top 100 men and women after many have had interrupted seasons due to injury.
“I’ve been in contact with all the top players and am pleased to announce we’ll have the full top 100 men and women returning to the Australian Open in January,” Tiley said.
“In a year when we saw Roger Federer return after six months out of the game, seeded No.17, and with modest expectations, go on to win incredible five-set matches over both established and rising stars of the game, including the sensational Rafa Nadal in the final.
“Novak [Djokovic], Andy [Murray], Stan [Wawrinka] and Kei [Nishikori] will all be back, albeit with much lower rankings. I’m sure they are all inspired by what Roger and Rafa achieved here in January, and what they’ve gone on to achieve – splitting the Grand Slam titles between them this year. It’s pretty amazing to think it all started here at Rod Laver Arena.
“For 2018 I think we can expect to see the gap between the established players and the next generation start to close. The Australian Open has a history of breakthrough performances and crowning new champions, so I wouldn’t rule out a changing of the guard.
“In the women’s game the Serena and Venus story is just as inspirational. Serena is such a remarkable athlete there’s now almost an expectation she’ll reach the final, as though it’s a forgone conclusion. For her to win, and for us then to discover she was eight weeks pregnant takes her to an entirely new level. And of course we are thrilled she’s given the AO a nod with the initials of her beautiful baby’s name …
“And to see Venus win match after match to meet Serena in the final was also incredible. Venus has reached the second week at every major this year, so again the Australian Open was a defining tournament for her.
“The majors have been split between four different women this year and I think the field is really open. It’s exciting to think Serena could return to defend her title after motherhood, and it’s also exciting to speculate on who can break through the pack to win.”
Tiley also announced a range of initiatives guaranteed to make the 2018 event bigger and better than ever for both fans and players.
Initiatives for Australian Open 2018 include:
· $55 million total prize money pool, up 10 per cent on 2017
· $4 million prize purse for the men’s and women’s champion
· New state-of-the-art player hub, with unprecedented services on offer for the world’s best players
· In an historic first Chinese fans will be able to book Australian Open tickets directly with one of China’s leading travel and tourism providers
· A full series of functions and special events to take place during qualifying week
· 15 days of music, kicking off with a fundraiser for Fight MND on Sunday 14 January at the AO Live Stage
· Rockpool Dining Group and Nobu pop-up restaurants on site
· Billie Jean King to host a special panel discussion at Rod Laver Arena prior to the women’s semifinal; and also present the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Trophy at the women’s final on the 50th anniversary of her Australian Open win
· New AO Ballpark featuring ANZ Tennis Hot Shots, a thrilling zipline through the Ballpark, trampolines and the return of popular LEGO andNERF zones
· Most comprehensive host broadcast coverage of any Grand Slam event, produced by Tennis Australia to include all matches across all draws and all 16 match courts (more than 840 matches), coverage of all practice courts and unprecedented behind-the-scenes access
· Mal Anderson to be honoured at the annual Legends Lunch
· Jan Lehane O’Neill, former top 10 player, Australian Open mixed doubles champion and four-time AO finalist to be inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame.