The 2010 Australian Open has once again proved to be an enormous success attendance wise, and it will need to continue if the first Grand Slam tournament on the Tennis calendar is to remain down under.
China has recently showed interest in hosting the Grand Slam of the Asia pacific, and it seems their bid will only intensify after WTA players Na Li and Jie Zheng reached the semi-final stage of this year's Australian Open.
But it seems the Chinese will have to wait quite a while yet to win hosting rights thanks to recent announcements made by the Victorian government to re-development Melbourne Park in a bid to host the tournament until 2036.
Among the key changes will see Margaret Court arena increase its capacity by adding 1500 extra seats, plus a retractable roof.
Overall, Melbourne Park's new upgrades will cost $365 million, with everything to be completed by 2015.
Indeed Victorian Premier John Brumby has emphasised the need for future growth and development to conserve the Australian Open, in the midst of growing pressure from China.
However, with all these re-developments set to take place, it seems the Australian public need not worry about the tournaments' future.
The Australian Open has become accustomed to attracting crowds of over 600,000 over the two-week duration of the tournament.
The reason for such high attendances throughout the course of the event has a lot to do with the Open’s uncanny ability to unearth a new tennis star or produce unexpected feel-good results that galvanise the Australian public.
Names such as Marcos Baghdatis, Jelena Dokic, Alicia Molik, Casey Dellacqua, Jo Wilfred Tsonga, and Fernando Verdasco have each played their part in making the Australian Open the most unpredictable out of the four Grand Slam events, thus adding intrigue to the tournament.
This year’s edition saw another fairytale comeback take place in the form of former world No. 1 Justin Henin of Belgium.
Having only played one tournament in Brisbane in the lead up to the Australian Open, Henin managed to overcome a tough draw, which included facing fifth seed Elena Dementieva in the second round, to make the women’s final against Serena Williams.
Aided once again by her devastating backhand, the seven time Grand Slam champion managed to captivate the Australian audience throughout the course of her memorable run which eventually ended in a tight three set loss to Williams in the final.
Henin’s run ended up being one of the main contributing factors in allowing the 2010 Australian Open to record the biggest attendance figures in its history, with 650,863 supporters attending the event.
Indeed those figures suggest Australians still love their tennis, unlike contrasting reports by several media outlets including Channel Seven, suggesting the game has lost its love affair with the Australian public.
If this year’s Australian Open attendance is anything to go by, it suggests the first Grand Slam is doing just fine, and will continue to do so for many years to come.
And that is terrific news for any Australian fan who wants to continually witness some of the world’s finest tennis players battle it out for Grand Slam supremacy.
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