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Record crowds watched tennis

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The Australian Open held in January gives the lead to the year’s global tennis calendar. The world’s leading players make it a point to take part while the tennis fans in the country await the tournament with great enthusiasm. This year was no exception. In fact, it was the highest where crowds were concerned, since the tournament started 108 years ago – in 1905. The viewership over television the world over is estimated to be equally high.

Beating all records, the 2018 Australian Open was a memorable one with 743,667 attending the three-week event. The previous record attendance was last year when the figure was 728,763 thus recording an increase of nearly 15,000 (14,904 to be exact). The figure would possibly have been more if the Men’s Final was between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, as it was last year. The fans were disappointed when Nadal had to leave early due to injury.

The tournament organisers were quite surprised when more than 500,000 fans attended in the first week which is generally considered a ‘dull week’. The first week saw 505,443 fans with more than 87,000 coming on the Saturday that week.

Australian Open held in Melbourne Park resembles a carnival. Crowds start coming in early in the day and most of them spend a good part of day and night at the grounds. As for the facilities, the Tournament Director said that the amount of music was doubled and the amount of food offerings was tripled. The amount of entertainment offerings in the kids’ ball park zone and Garden Square was also tripled.

The media pointed out that the cost of tickets was too expensive. It was estimated that a family of four spent AUS $ 420 if they went during the first week. A night-time pass was estimated at AUS $ 49 – an increase of AUS $ 14 from last year. The tournament authorities said the price hike was due to the increase in entertainment. Justifying the increase they said the price of tickets was ‘absolutely affordable’.

The number of fans who turned up, in a way, justified what the authorities said. It was proof of how the Australians are so sports-friendly.

The increase coincided with a 10% rise in tournament prize money. Singles champions Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki each took home AUS $ 4 million in prize money.

During the last financial year, the Australian Open made $ 320 million in revenue.

According the analysts, this was the first time since 2008 Wimbledon Championships that two unseeded players (Chung Hyeon – South Korea, and Kyle Edmund – Britain) reached the semifinals of the men’s singles at a Grand Slam tournament, and the first time at the Australian Open since 1999. Chung became the first South Korean player to reach the quarterfinals and semifinals of a Grand Slam event.

It was Federer’s 20th Grand Slam singles title. He also equalled the record set by Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic in winning the Australian Open six times.

Adding more to his records, Federer became the first male player to win at least six titles at two Grand Slam tournaments (six at the Australian Open and eight at Wimbledon). At 36, he also became the oldest player to win a Grand Slam singles title since Ken Rosewall in 1972.


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