Reshma Krishnan Barshikar

Aah, the Australian Open 2015 is around the corner. What’s not to love about watching modern day gladiators battle it out on the court? We know you’re heading there to get a glimpse of twenty eight year old Nadal back in form. Or perhaps catch the rising star Nick Kyrgios, the new darling of Australian tennis, make his grand slam debut at the Australian Open 2015. But there’s much more to the tournament than the one match, so here are five reasons to whet your appetite:

See much more than you bargained for:
The Australian Open is known for its special events and the most popular is the Legends event that begins on the middle Saturday. Australian Open 2014 saw icons like the former French Open champion Yannick Noah and Henri Leconte. The highlight for us was the women’s event as all-time great Martina Navratilova paired up with Martina Hingis against Tracy Austin, Iva Majoli and Amelie Mauresmo. Then there’s the guided tour around the Melbourne Park where you can trace the steps of tennis royalty and maybe sit at the players benches and wonder what it feels like to be fighting at the top of your game. We doubt they’ll let you set foot on the fancy Plexicushion surface though. And of course there is music – Navin Sharma, the founder of Eventraveler.com even managed to catch a favorite band.

Controversial history:
What’s tennis, nay sports, without controversy? The Australian Open has a checkered past owing to its remote location and its blinding heat. It has recently been dogged by hot headedness, quite literally, because the latest controversy surrounds their extreme heat policy. The Australian Open came under some criticism in 2014 because of their refusal to discontinue play despite scorching temperatures that can reach 43.9 centigrade. Their rational was the relatively low humidity. It got so bad that Frank Dancevic began to hallucinate during his match, which he consequently lost.

The surface and the courts:
This year though, you’ll be able to relax in the shade because they might just decide to use their retractable roofs. That’s right. All three main courts have retractable roofing and can turn into a shady blue oasis at the touch of a button, bring your own Perrier please. Blue? Yes, blue. Because the courts at the Australian open feature Plexicushion Prestige, a medium paced acrylic surface that is more predictable, consistent and retains less heat- an added bonus when you’re playing in 44 degrees centigrade. Fun fact to throw around and impress the mates: Novak Djokovic is the most successful player on Plexicushion and has won all his four Australian Open titles playing on this surface.

Fans:
I think it’s safe to say that fans rule the roost when they have not just an entire page dedicated to them but a competition where Rafael Nadal picks the best-dressed fan. So get ready to see Swedish fans, they call themselves Swedish House Mafia of course, drenched in the colors of the flag.

Melbourne:
Last but not least, the Australian Open is worth it for the city it calls home, Melbourne, which has been called the world’s most livable city by The Economist. What’s not to love about a city that gives you a free beer with your haircut? For foodies, there is a smorgasbord of cuisine to choose from be it Vue de Monde to Attica. Yes, all those restaurants you see on Masterchef Australia? Many of them are in Melbourne. And they are all just a stones throw away because the Grand Slam venue, unlike trudging from Wimbledon to Piccadilly. Work the calories off by biking through eclectic lanes or just chill on Kent Street and sip on some of the best coffee in the world.

If you’re planning on visiting the Australian Open 2015 and want to know more about tickets and accommodation visit Eventraveler.com’s Australian Open page. If you want to know more about Melbourne, Reshma has a post coming up that will help plan your trip out perfectly.

Reshma Krishnan Barshikar is a travel writer and contributes to National Geographic Traveller, India Today Travel Plus and Helter Skelter. When in Mumbai, she can be found at the NCPA library researching her next novel. Her debut novel, Fade Into Red, is a romantic ode to wine and Tuscany and was published by Random House India in August 2014. For more details visit her website www.reshmakrishnan.com

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