Australian Open 2015: The Day After

TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN 2015 – The day after. There is a feeling of emptiness in the air. The press room has been emptied and inside Melbourne Park there isn’t a piece of paper or a can lying around. It’s time to look at a few numbers from the 2015 Australian Open. From Melbourne, Robbie Cappuccio

The day after. There is a feeling of emptiness in the air, as if we were waiting for something that cannot arrive. The free trams have disappeared and so have the free shuttle service from the City to the Rod Laver Arena. The press room has been emptied and inside Melbourne Park there isn’t a piece of paper or a can lying around. We Aussies might be a bit rough around the edges, but generally we follow the rules and we have a health respect for our civic duties.

There is no mention of the men’s final on the morning papers as the match finished too late as the papers were already printing, but there re many pictures of Serena, queen for the sixth time in Melbourne. By the way, her speech during the prize giving ceremony (“I went on court with a ball, a racket and hope…”) and Maria’s (“I really love playing against her as she is the best and you want to play against the best…”) were hundreds of times more touching, genuine and interesting than those uttered by Djokovic and Murray (who denounced Djoker’s “simulation” of an injury).

It was an extravagant Slam for the colour of the tennis attire with excesses like Stabilo Boss or Peppa Pig (guess who) plus Mattek-Sands’ usual eccentricity that is in a league of it’s own.

The most significant phrase of the tournament was spoken by Vitas Gerulaitis in 1980, “And let that be a lesson to you all. Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row” (referred to Gerulaitis’ encounters with Jimmy Connors), which was adapted for the Berdych-Nadal rivalry, “Nobody, not even Nadal, beats Berdych 18 times in a row”. It was also adapted for the women’s final, “Nobody, but Serena Williams, beats Masha 16 times in a row”.

Newcombe used to say that “you are only as good as your second serve”. If this is true then Murray has to worry as in the final his second serve was travelling at an average speed of 134km/h compared to Djokovic’s 158km/h. What is of bigger concern for the Scot is that both Serena (153km/h) and Masha (150km/h) were serving their second ball faster than him.

Nick Kyrgios’ nickname is “wild thing” and it isn’t just a random pick for him. Proof that he is a “wild thing” came in this tournament as he topped the list for fines. It shouldn’t be condoned, but for someone like me who grew up watching John McEnroe, these indiscretions can be forgiven. By the way the Aussie was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back and will have to take a month off from tennis.

Let’s look at some of the numbers of this record breaking tournament:

  • 49 Nations were represented by the 256 players of the single’s tournaments. In the men’s draw there were 41 different nationalities with 12 of them coming from Spain. In the women’s draw there were 34 nationalities and 16 players came from the USA. 11 Australians reached the second round.
  • 704 participants took part in the Australian Open 2015 considering every tournament that was played, from the men’s singles to the wheel chair events.
  • The fastest serve was recorded by… Marius Copil (ROM) at 242km/h. Milos Raonic made the highest number of aces, 114.
  • In the women’s draw the fastest serve was recorded by, surprise surprise, by Serena Williams at 204km/h. She even recorded the highest number of aces, 88.
  • 703,899 spectators came to Melbourne Park to watch the Australian Open, 18 more than the previous record attendance registered in 2012.
  • The day with the biggest attendance was the middle Saturday with 81,031 fans.
  • There were 650 journalists and photographers. 296 of them from outside Australia representing 44 nations.
  • The Wilson technicians restrung 4763 racquets using more than 57km of string. 71 racquets were restrung quickly during matches. Serena has also the record for the most racquets restrung, 86.
  • 360 umpires and line judges, plus Hawk-Eye, were used in the tournament from 34 different countries.
  • 380 ball-kids were at Melbourne Park for the fortnight. 327 came from the state of Victoria, 25 from the rest of Australia, 20 from Korea, 6 from China and 2 from Singapore.
  • 8412 members of staff, both contracted and voluntary, worked behind the scenes

The Australian Open is a family event. On the last day of the qualifying tournament, Saturday 17th of January, there was Kids Tennis Day with 14500 kids and parents (among them myself with wife and daughter) were treated to a clash between team Dora and team Spongebob. The two teams were formed by the likes of Roger Federer, Ana Ivanovic, Victoria Azarenka, Eugenie Bouchard and the Aussie duo of Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis. But that wasn’t it, more than 7000 kids, with their parents, visited the Disney area during the last three days of the event.

The Hisense Arena was quickly transformed in a small Disneyland where the kids could see characters from Cars, or go to the Frozen inspired world with a pile of snow and a karaoke. What to do to attract the young ones to tennis? Set up a Disney zone and give a free racquet to kids when they walk in and ask for information (just ask, they didn’t have to sign up to anything!) about the Hot Shots program. If you increase the numbers of kids playing it is easier to find the Kyrgios’ and Kokkinakis’ (by the way watch out for Violet Apisah and Destanee Aiava who are both 14 years old, but are competing and beating 17 year olds).

And finally some “digital” numbers. Before the men’s final the ausopen.com site received 13.5 million separate users.

The most clicked player profiles were Madison Keys (212,748), Eugenie Bouchard (198,381), Serena Williams (195,585), Maria Sharapova (176,404) and Ekaterina Makarova (129,614).

Amongst the men Nick Kyrgios was the most clicked (208,863), followed by Novak Djokovic (180,102), Rafael Nadal (159,683), Roger Federer (153,255) and Andy Murray (128,000), that is the Fab Four and… Jimmy Hendrix?

With one big event finished the preparation for another is getting underway. Next to my house work has started for the F1 Grand Prix, so I am off to take my Ferrari flag out of the cupboard.

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