United By Play – AO22 To Bring Back Big Crowds And Iconic Summer Vibe To Melbourne

Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley (photo: Tennis Australia/ Fiona Hamilton)

AO Open Press Release, November 20, 2021

The Australian Open will help Melbourne roar back to life in January 2022 and signal to the world that the city and the state of Victoria is back and open for business.

Bumper crowds are expected flock to Melbourne Park in January and will be treated to a full Grand Slam program, including two weeks of lead in tournaments, the return of AO Qualifying and the AO Junior Championships.

Record crowds are expected for AO wheelchair events, as multi-Grand Slam champion and Paralympic gold medallist Dylan Alcott plays in his final tournament before retiring from the sport.

The brand new 5,000-seat stadium and a stunning new dining precinct, along with media facilities and broadcast studios will be unveiled, revealing the final stage of the 10-year redevelopment of Melbourne Park which continues to lead the way in global Grand Slam facilities.

“The Australian Open will be back in all its glory in January and provide a massive boost to the city, the state and the country as it plays a major role in helping Melbourne roar back to life,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.

“We can’t wait to welcome back the world’s best players – they love competing here in Melbourne, experiencing the warmth and enthusiasm of the fans, enjoying our beautiful city and player facilities unlike anywhere else in the world.

“It’s also very special to go into the summer of tennis with an Aussie reigning supreme as the world No.1. Ash Barty has made it very clear she’s looking forward to the AO and she wants to do well in Melbourne. She’s just starting her pre-season and she’s fit and healthy and raring to go.

“We’ve been in regular touch with Serena Williams who is in full training and planning to be back in 2022. A phenomenal athlete and formidable competitor, Serena absolutely still has the fire to make and break records.

“It’s great to see Naomi Osaka, our two-time champ, is also back on-court and is looking forward to returning to the AO to defend her title.

“Hot on the heels of our established stars is an exciting crop of young women… Emma Raducanu, US Open champion, will play the AO main draw for the first time in January, having last competed in Melbourne at the Junior Championships in 2019. Her opponent in the US Open final, fellow young gun Leylah Fernandez, will play the AO for the third time come January.

Novak Djokovic has been an extraordinary champion here in Melbourne, winning an incredible nine AO titles and again finishing the year as world No.1.

“We are also seeing the emergence of exciting new rivalries as the next generation breaks through. This year’s AO finalist Daniil Medvedev claimed his first Grand Slam title in New York over Djokovic, and Alexander Zverev, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Matteo Berrettini are also closing in as major contenders. Dominic Thiem will also be making a comeback following injury.

Exciting new talents such as the young Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz are also dangerous names to watch for in the draw.

“Speaking of Spaniards, the great Rafa Nadal will be back and can never be underestimated. He is currently tied with Federer and Djokovic, each on 20 Grand Slam singles titles – and the AO could be his chance to collect No. 21.

“Even though it’s been a tough year for so many of our Aussie players, who’ve spent the whole year on the road or go through multiple rounds of hotel quarantine, they’ve shown remarkable resilience and achieved some outstanding results.

“Alongside Ash, Ajla Tomljanovic has had a great year and is back in the top 50 after reaching the quarters at Wimbledon. Sam Stosur won the US Open doubles – her eighth Grand Slam title. Storm Sanders reached the semis in the doubles at Wimbledon and was a star at the recent Billie Jean King Cup, where it was also great to see Dasha back on court after a long injury time out.

“The men have also reached new heights in 2021 with Alex de Minaur reaching his career high ranking after winning two ATP titles this year and Alexei Popyrin claimed his maiden title. James DuckworthJohn MillmanMax Purcell and John Peers achieved new milestones. I have no doubt all of our Aussie players will be greeted by rapturous crowds at their home Slam.

“We can’t wait to welcome back the world’s best players, and our fans in big numbers, with all the fun and excitement of live sport in summer in Melbourne.”

In 2022 the Australian Open celebrates 100 years of women’s competition at the highest level of the sport.

The first champion, Margaret Molesworth (NSW) who won the inaugural women’s Australian Championships singles title in 1922 and again in 1923, along with three-time winner during the 1930s, Joan Hartigan (NSW), will be inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame.

Both women were acknowledged as being among the world’s top 10 during their careers, a significant achievement when so few women were able to compete at a high level in any sport. Molesworth was Australia’s first female professional tennis coach, and both contributed to the sport, inspiring more girls and women to take up tennis.

The women’s semifinal will move to prime time in 2022, with both matches to be played in the night session on Thursday 27 January, in a major shift to the schedule.

This also means the men’s semis will now be played on the Friday in a day and a night session, instead of being split across two nights.

There will be more exciting activations for fans than ever before, with the introduction of the spectacular new AO Beach House, designed to bring the laidback holiday vibes to life within a stunning new precinct. Beach Tennis, Piper Heidsieck Cabanas, Grainshaker Australian Vodka Bar, gourmet fish and chips from Pipi’s Kiosk and a range of health and wellness activities offer something for everyone and attracting both the early birds and the night owls.

Grand Slam Oval is back bigger than ever and will showcase all that we love about the laneways of Melbourne. Ten of the most celebrated CBD restaurants will serve up their signature dishes from an eclectic mix of cuisines.

Rockpool Bar & Grill offering spectacular indoor and alfresco dining, with an exclusive contribution to the menu by Burnt Ends, ranked No.34 in the World’s Best Restaurants. Famed Singapore-based Australian chef Dave Pynt says contributing the Rockpool menu is the perfect alignment of two like-minded restaurants and a unique opportunity to work with his respected peer Corey Costelloe from the iconic Rockpool brand.

The new dining precinct is also host to the Penfolds Restaurant, a four-course fine-dining experience; the more casual Penfolds Bistro and the extravagantly luxurious and perfectly pink Max’s Rosé Bar, on the terrace overlooking Garden Square.

The lush greenhouse surrounds of Atrium Eatery and Bar by Ben Shewry of Attica fame will be an oasis in the midst of the AO energy. Located on the River Terrace overlooking the Yarra, there will be native botanicals inspired cocktails curated by pioneering mixologist Michael Madrusan, and influences of sustainable design throughout the space.