The Australian Open prize money is up by 10 per cent to reach $55 million. Galaxy of the top tennis stars will be back for the Melbourne Grand Slam.
Tournament director Craig Tiley has unveiled details of an unprecedented $4 million jackpot for the men’s and women’s singles champions and an overall 10 per cent raise in the overall purse frm $ 50 million to $ 55 million.
Season opening Grand Slam event is slated for 15-28 January 2018.
Tiley expects to welcome back star men’s quartet of Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori from injury. The imminent return of defending champions Serena Williams and Roger Federer has officials bracing for huge ticket demand.
Serena Williams hopes to resume after becoming a mother in September. “Serena is a truly remarkable athlete and she’s hasn’t ruled out a return to the Australian Open,” Tiley said. “Her baby’s initials are AO (Alexis Ohanian) and she’s suggested she should also have her name on the 2017 trophy, so the AO is well and truly top of mind for her at the moment.
“If anyone can do it, she can and I’m certainly not counting her out of a return come January. Venus has also had an incredible year, turning back the clock to make the second week of every major this year. And then of course we have Roger and Rafa (Nadal). Anyone who was fortunate enough to see them play any of their matches this year was in the box seat to witness two of the most amazing comebacks.
“The men’s final between Roger and Rafa is one of the matches of the year and both players have gone from strength to strength since. Roger has won five titles from the nine tournaments he’s played and he can’t wait to come back, step out on Rod Laver Arena again and begin his title defence. He loves playing here, loves the Aussie fans, and has said his Australian Open win this year was one of the most meaningful of his career.
“It would be almost unbelievable to think that Rafa has taken the No. 1 spot in tennis unless you know how driven and committed he is to not just the sport, but continuously improving himself and his game. He’s the ultimate competitor and brings so much intensity to every match. He’s made history with his tenth title at Roland Garros and is on track to finish the year in the top spot,” says Tiley.
There will be a number of added attractions to look forward to during the tournament. These include a new state-of-the-art player hub, with unprecedented services on offer for the world’s best players; 15 days of music, kicking off with a fundraiser for Fight MND on Sunday 14 January at the AO Live Stage; Rockpool Dining Group and Nobu pop-up restaurants on site; A special panel discussion at Rod Laver Arena to be hosted by Billie Jean King prior to the women’s semi-final. She will also present the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Trophy at the women’s final on the 50th anniversary of her Australian Open win
Mal Anderson will be honoured at the annual Legends Lunch, while Jan Lehane O’Neill, former top 10 player, Australian Open mixed doubles champion and four-time AO finalist will be inducted into the Australian Tennis Hall of Fame.