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THE LOW DOWN: Is the Australian Open in danger of disappearing?

Tennis Australia is worried about their Grand Slam.

According to The Independent, Tennis Australia believe their Slam lacks the same "lustre", facilites, and corporate involvement as the other three majors and could cause them to lose it. But that's not the only reason:
The source added that Tennis Australia were "dead worried" about losing their slam, one of the reasons being that it does not have a unique surface. Both the US and Australian Opens are played on hard court, while Wimbledon and Roland Garros are played on grass and clay respectively. Despite the concern, there are no plans to change the surface – it was only relaid this year – or move the date of the tournament in light of arguments that such a big event is held too early in the season. Authorities want to keep the January fortnight because it coincides with local school holidays and the finals take place on Australia Day weekend.
Tennis Australia has called in HOK Sport, a London-based architecture agency responsible for Wimbledon's forthcoming Centre Court retractable roof and London's 2012 Olympic stadium, to help with revamping the Australian Open's facilities including better transportation to and from Melbourne Park and the possibility of tearing down and rebuilding Rod Laver Arena which may look "out of date" next to Wimby's new retractable roof.

Rod Sheard of HOK Sport was quoted as saying:
The Victorian government has recognised that the tennis facilities at Melbourne need to be updated to keep up with the other slams. We have been commissioned alongside [Australian architect] Cox to look at the site and prepare a master plan. The authorities are pretty open-minded on what we recommend, and we're looking at things like crowd flows, corporate facilities, relocating the entrance and improving links to other sporting facilities nearby.
Personally, I agree the Aussie Open suffers from an identity crisis but the biggest reason is the timing. We're force fed major tennis before we're even ready - there's no real build up to the Slam, no "season", to get fans excited about the year's first major, especially the casual fan. Plus, the ballers have just come off a (very) short break and aren't usually playing their best stuff yet. If they're not fully engaged, how can we be?

It would be in everyone's best interest to give some breathing room at the start of the year. Will it happen? Who knows.

(image via Getty)

*Via Down the Line!

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Comment by tennis baller on October 16, 2008 at 8:54pm
yeah he and Serena did it as a Nike promo for Miami
Comment by rafael on October 16, 2008 at 7:58pm
they should make one in water i mean didn't nadal and one of the williams play in a water court at Florida on top of a hotel??
Comment by Tough Love Tennis on October 15, 2008 at 8:15pm
how about crushed shells???
Comment by tennis baller on October 9, 2008 at 9:27am
O...M...G! that is so hot actually
Comment by Mark / The Mayor on October 9, 2008 at 9:12am
I don't think it requires much explanation. ;-) The angles from below court level would be... revealing. I designed a salon with an 8' x 8' glass floor a few years back. From below, in the massage area, it kept the customers coming back.

Comment by tennis baller on October 8, 2008 at 9:57pm
LOL! would you like to explain yourself mr. mayor?
Comment by Ash on October 8, 2008 at 8:13pm
glass court ?
Comment by Mark / The Mayor on October 8, 2008 at 9:59am
Yeah, I think the history lesson would go a long way,and I'd like to learn the history of tennis in Australia in general, but you know the glass court is the real answer! It actually looks like a PARTY down under when the tournament is on. My buddy went and said it was the most FUN of any tourney he has attended.
Comment by tennis baller on October 7, 2008 at 5:19pm
ha! nice one.

they just need to figure out a good lead up plan to build excitement and then play up more the history of the tourney. i think that'll help ground it in the calendar, give it weight and substance like the other three. we get sold the history of the majors and we buy into it which is really important. tennis australia hasn't quite done that just yet.
Comment by Mark / The Mayor on October 6, 2008 at 9:21pm
Good post. I dont think they have anything to worry about. Its great that they are continually trying to improve, but they can't be replaced anytime soon (maybe in 20 years by China). The rebound ace was bad news and I'm not sure they need a unique surface. Besides, what's left? carpet. That's not glamorous like grass and clay. How about black top asphalt? :-) Or maybe straight up concrete. Now, thinking like an architect, how about glass - that's right clear glass with cameras below the surface. Imagine the angles!

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