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The Australian Open For Dummies

The Australian Open fortnight provides a rare opportunity for the country to throw open its arms to the rest of us, and for the rest of us to sit back, observe and, occasionally, judge. If you’re hoping to elevate your Aussie Open experience from beginner to champ, you're gonna need some insider knowledge. And where better to get that than from complete outsiders like us?

Being on time doesn’t make you a winner.

Let’s start off realistic – you do not arrive on time, ideally. What with the ungodly Australian temperatures causing an overestimation on your ability to speed-walk, and forgetting to factor in that mandatory pre-game beer en-route, you’ll probably arrive 20-30 minutes late, at least. Presuming you’re of the ‘blending in’ kind, 30 minutes late is the perfect time to scout out those expensive empty seats, where the financiers who were mainly there to get their photo taken courtside have called it a day already – so long as you can play the part, who says that’s not your seat? The reward for being late – best seats in the house. If you’re lucky and have the nerve, keep track of the ones bailing a couple of sets in, and drop down a few rows occasionally, you’ll either end up courtside, or outside with the security by your side.

Dress code.

Speaking of blending in, the spectators sitting in *those* seats love to dress the country-club part with collared polos and bright whites. It’s important to consider the possibility of unwanted dampness through the day, if you know what I mean, games can be nerve wracking. The beauty of our sport is that you can go high, you can go low and anywhere in-between. Wear an entirely white hemp suit with a straw hat to look like Daniel Craig at the Wimbledon final, wear a vintage Australian Open t-shirt from 2009 that you bought this year at x3 mark-up in a curated vintage store, wear whatever you like. It’s the Australian fucking Open; there are no rules. Alternatively, dress up as Where’s Wally, like these guys did last year, or jump in the boat with the unofficial Jannik Sinner fanclub of the Carota Boys in a carrot-costume.

Turn the stand into a zoo.

Heckling at the players. It’s a part of the experience. Remember when Kyrgios told the spectators “You guys are a zoo”, because the stands were completely unhinged? It doesn’t take a tennis head to know that Kyrgios won’t hesitate to heckle back, and he won’t be gentle when he does. Whether he stands with a racket or sits with a mic in 2024 (spoiler, if you’re not in the loop, it’ll be the latter), it’s wise to watch your mouth around this guy. This being said, we encourage all of the potty-mouth repartee needed to pull through the mood swings that come with a Grand Slam.

Stay hydrated.

The US Open has the honey deuce. Wimbledon has the Pimm’s Cup, the French Open has the Ace Royal, so obviously, the Australian Open would have their own thirst-quenching cocktail too, no? No. They don’t. They have a shot. The Illusion shaker, it’s called. What you’ll get is a bitching neon shot which makes up the green and gold of Australian sport. I think that a face-scrunching shot is perfect – the Aussie’s aren’t exactly a ‘sit back quietly and enjoy the game’ kind of classy, like the Pimm’s drinkers of Wimbledon. Let that be an encouragement for some lose behavior if you needed it. The Midori-based drink made its rounds around Melbourne clubs back in the day, and was dragged back to the stadium in 2019. Knock it back and let the games begin.

Seriously, do whatever the hell you want. And don’t by any means allow this once-in-a-life-time ticket that you secured impact your day-to-day routine. The guy getting his haircut in the stands in 2019 didn’t, neither did the countless spectators caught sleeping during games, or that one girl who flipped off Nadal right before his serve in 2021.

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