Take Your Seat At The Australian Open Tennis

19 December 2014

Summer in Australia usually means one thing for sports fans: plenty of time on the couch watching the world's best do battle in our own backyard. Why tune in on television though, when you can follow all the action in the flesh?

The Australian Open is undoubtedly one of the nation's most popular sporting events, with more than 600,000 fans piling through the turnstiles of the two-week tennis showdown each year. The tournament may only be a month from starting, but it's not too late to secure tickets, as Raman Goraya explains.

 Dusk descends over the picturesque Melbourne Park. (Getty)

Grounds For Excitement

Hard-working content producer for Sportsbet by day, come hot summer nights the man affectionately known as 'Rambo' to his friends can usually be found prowling the outside courts at Melbourne Park.

"I'm a ground pass guy," Goraya says. "Basically a ground pass ticket gives you access to all the courts in Melbourne Park, with the exception of Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena.

"I love going in the first week of the tournament. The outside courts are rich with cracking first and second round matches and you can just waltz in and claim a seat. The atmosphere around the place is great, too."

With the world's top 128 men and women singles players all competing for a shot at the first of the Grand Slam title of the year, Goraya says it's best to secure tickets for slightly later in the tournament to guarantee seeing the big guns go head to head.

"If you want to see the likes of Federer, Djokovic or Serena on Centre Court I would be booking as soon as possible, but aim for the second week. You'll pay a bit more but you'll get some fantastic matches when the big seeds start to run into each other," Goraya explains.

Off-Court Entertainment

The action off the court is just as enticing, with Melbourne welcoming tens of thousands of international visitors to the city for one of world sport's most cosmopolitan events.

"Melbourne is dead-set heaving in January," says Goraya. "The atmosphere around the place is fantastic and most of the time the weather is pretty good.

"Check out the rooftop bars at Campari House or the aptly-named Rooftop Bar. Madame Brussels is also a top spot near the tennis and you'll have a great session at College Lawn in Prahran," he adds.

It's not just the tennis drawing crowds to Melbourne in January, with countless entertainment options on offer – including, this time around, the 2015 Asian Cup.

"There is usually other sport going on in Melbourne at the same time as the tennis. No doubt you can catch a Big Bash game or international match at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. If not, just head to the ground to see the brilliant sporting museum," says Goraya.

"January is also great for touring local and international music acts in Melbourne, so suss out the local gig guide and book some tickets, or rock up to places like the Corner Hotel in Richmond, Howler Bar in Brunswick or Grace Darling Hotel in Collingwood and embrace the tunes".

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Prime Location

Located barely two kilometres from the Melbourne CBD on the banks of the Yarra River, Melbourne Park is about as accessible as major sporting venues get.

After an action-packed day of tennis, many fans simply hop on on a tram and head into the city to check out some of Australia's hippest bars and hottest restaurants, with Melbourne renowned for its cosmopolitan atmosphere when the tennis is in town.

"It's always good to stay central around Australian Open time," says Goraya "Southbank is a nice spot, as is the CBD, because it is easy to access a lot of the city, not just Melbourne Park."

"The Adelphi Hotel in the city is a nice little spot, as is Hotel Lindrum if you want to feel a bit special," he adds.

Star-Studded Field

As one of four Grand Slam tournaments and boasting a total tournament prize pool of some $33 million, it's no surprise to see the biggest names in world tennis make their way down under to compete in the men's, women's, doubles and juniors fields.

Singles action is what most fans come to see, with Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka the defending men's champion and the now-retired Li Na from China the reigning women's champion.

Wawrinka lifted the Davis Cup alongside his Switzerland team-mate Roger Federer last month, but the Swiss star is expected to face tough competition in Melbourne.

"I can't go past Novak Djokovic in the men's," reckons Goraya of Sportsbet's short-priced favourite.

"He was upset by eventual champ Wawrinka in the quarter-finals in 2014. But he loves Melbourne and will be back to his best - he's already won the title four times," Goraya says.

"The women's winner is almost much harder to predict, but I have a feeling Maria Sharapova can outlast a lot of the top seeds with Victoria Azarenka also a good chance."

Mike Tuckerman

From Europe to Asia and many places in between, there's rarely a town or city I've not enjoyed exploring. When I'm not wandering the streets and discovering new destinations, you can usually find me hanging out with the locals at major sporting events.