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AO showcases world's best player facilities

  • Tennis Australia

Australian Open 2019 will debut the world’s best player facilities for the elite in world tennis in January.

The new four-level Player Pod on the eastern side of Rod Laver Arena is the result of years of painstaking hard work and consultation with the players, the Victorian Government, Melbourne Park, architects and builders, and has been designed to fulfil the players’ every need.

The spacious facilities will set a new benchmark in world tennis and in sport. The total dedicated player zone will increase by up to 30 per cent in some areas, with stunning spaces for training, treatment, recovery, dining and lounging, all designed with maximum comfort, convenience and luxury in mind.

“The players are the stars of the Australian Open and have voted the tournament as their favourite Grand Slam,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said.

“They love coming to Melbourne and appreciate the amazing facilities and the friendly reception they receive, both from the AO team and the fans.

“We want to ensure they feel at home here, and that they have the best possible environment to prepare for their on-court performance. We also want to ensure they have great spaces to relax with their team, friends and family.

“Over the past few years we’ve spent a lot of time consulting with players, coaches and other stakeholders to drill down even further on what the players want, and what they need so they can perform at their very best. More space, places to relax and prepare quietly for their matches, state-of-the-art training and treatment facilities and of course, fantastic food, are all important to them,” Tiley said.

Tennis Australia Chief Operations Officer Tom Larner, who has been an integral part of the massive project, is looking forward to seeing the Player Pod up and running at the Australian Open.

“It’s thanks to the Victorian Government and the very significant ongoing redevelopment of Melbourne Park that the Australian Open continues to lead the world in Grand Slam facilities,” Larner said.

“I’m confident the players will love their new home away from home and the comfortable and high-quality amenities and services. We are excited about delivering the best-ever experience to the playing group in January.”

Food and relaxation are top of the priority list for players. The expanded Player Café, with a new capacity of 420 (up from 375) will capitalise on the best food experiences Melbourne has to offer, with a ‘destinations’ theme:

  • Melbourne Café experience, including specialised coffees  
  • Italian zone, with all-important pasta stations and a built in pizza oven
  • Japanese-style restaurant and made-to-order sushi
  • Ice-cream bar
  • 600 square metre outdoor terrace overlooking Grand Slam Oval and Melbourne Arena
  • Increased indoor and outdoor lounge areas.
The expanded Player Café will capitalise on the best food experiences Melbourne has to offer

In terms of performance, a full concierge service is on offer to the players as they arrive at their brand-new locker rooms just a few metres away from Rod Laver Arena. There’s a huge increase in space and 20 percent more lockers, along with:

  • Spacious lounge area at the entrance to both male and female locker rooms
  •  Full concierge service
  • Larger player treatment rooms
  • 375 lockers in both men’s and women’s locker rooms – total of 750
  • In-locker charging points, ensuring constant connectivity.

For all-important match preparation there are additional quiet zones where players can relax, consult and strategise with their coach or just chill and listen to their music.

With so many players now touring with their families, the crèche and facilities for parents and carers of young children is also a priority.

  • Expanded new crèche
  • Special parents’ room, providing a quiet, comfortable and private space for baby feeding and changing.

The Australian Open has always led the way in the beauty and grooming stakes and the Player Beauty Bar has set the benchmark in Grand Slam pampering. In 2019 services have expanded even further to include:

  •  Nail Bar
  • Brow Bar
  • Hairdressing – cut, colour and styling
  • Full beautician service – waxing, facials, makeup and more
  • Men’s barber and shaving.

Recovery, treatment and training facilities have also been ramped up:

  • Four purpose-built ice baths
  • Six individual treatment rooms
  • Additional open-plan treatment and massage spaces
  • Spacious and airy 230 square metre gymnasium with state-of-the-art equipment and shock-absorbing rubberised floor.

Privacy and comfort are hallmarks of the space, but there are some opportunities for the fans to catch glimpses of and engage with their tennis heroes.

The outdoor terrace overlooks the AO retail area on the concourse and Grand Slam Oval; an almost hidden Juliet balcony will allow players to keep an eye on the crowds entering and departing Rod Laver Arena; and the escalator and grand staircase between the concourse on level two, and player dining on level three, providing fans with glimpses of the players behind glass as they move around the space.

Convenience and accessibility has also been taken into account, including an underground tunnel for buggies to transport players from one end of the precinct to the other.

Premium, high-end finishes in tiles, timbers and other surfaces star in the interior design on show throughout the entire Player Pod. The colour palette is neutral and serene and features a combination of raw natural finishes with sleek industrial materials. The articulated architecture is designed to engage and direct people through the space.

The ambience is refined, yet open, relaxed and inviting, reflecting the personality of the Australian Open itself.