Tennis Australia’s plan to fudge the books to attract record numbers is in freefall, with Nick Kyrgios the latest break point star to retire from the tournament.
Kyrgios on Monday joined other stars being pursued for documentary Break Point Ajla Tomljanovic and Paula Badosa in withdrawing from the Australian Open before serving a ball.
Combine that with last year’s retirement of gold girl Ash Barty and legends Roger Federer and Serena Williams and the absence of two-time champion Naomi Osaka, men’s No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, Venus Williams, Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber and Marin Cilic and there’s one drastic shortage of train tickets in 2023.
The Australian Open attendance record was set three years ago when 812,174 poured through the turnstiles at the Grand Slam, which took place just weeks before Covid brought the world to a standstill.
While the increase to 900,000 would seem like a significant increase in that tally, TA executive director Craig Tiley cheekily expanded this year’s viewership to catch last week’s qualifying events – not just the 14-day tournament.
“We want to get back to our pre-pandemic plans of solidifying January’s AO as the world’s largest annual sporting event while making it accessible to as many fans as possible,” Tiley said back as several more marquee names were expected to play .
News Corp asked Tennis Australia on Monday how many spectators attended last week and whether the sold-out Rod Laver Arena would be included in the Australian Open attendance count for Friday night’s benefit match between Kyrgios and Novak Djokovic.
But TA didn’t respond. Even with Tiley counting last week’s ticketing days, 900,000 suddenly seems like an ambitious goal given the lack of box office stars.
A Kyrgios run into week two would have drawn thousands through the gates on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and next Monday to soak up the drama of the human headline and his on-pitch antics.
That would have been complemented by the return of the “Special Ks” – Kyrgios and his closest ally Thanasi Kokkinakis – defending their double crown.
But suddenly without Kyrgios, Tomljanovic’s Barty, who retired with another bombshell on Saturday’s eve of the tournament, the home nation’s hopes now rest largely on Kokkinakis and the introverted Alex de Minaur.
Kokkinakis has to deal with a nightmare early in the draw. He meets Fabio Fognini on Tuesday before potentially facing No. 13 Matteo Berrettini or former World No. 1 Andy Murray in Round 2.
Suddenly, TA’s decision not to wildcard the polarizing Bernard Tomic could backfire.
“This year is my year, if nobody helps me, I will go back to the top 100 on my own,” Tomic vowed after the snub.
When asked about his reticence on Saturday, de Minaur said: “I’m a very laid back guy, I’m easygoing with whatever happens.”
De Minaur’s fans, who paid $65 for a ticket to Margaret Court Arena on Tuesday night, will also miss out as the No. 22 is moved to John Cain Arena to replace Kyrgios.
The Australian Open has twice welcomed more than 90,000 in a single day. This happened on the sixth day (the middle Saturday) in 2020 (93,709) and 2019 (93,178).
Originally released as Australian Open 2023: Tennis Australia ticket numbers revealed as Netflix curse strikes again
https://www.codesports.com.au/tennis/australian-open-2023-tennis-australias-ticket-numbers-rort-exposed-as-netflix-curse-strikes-again/news-story/0537861cc3ad88ae45a03a7d6edb7fa6?nk=b1e88bf58d88fee9f4049e25a89a9a86-1673896629 Australian Open 2023: Tennis Australia ticket numbers revealed as Netflix curse strikes again