2. AUSTRALIAN OPEN “101”: Understanding the Tournament Schedule, Stadiums, and Grounds
SCHEDULE AT A GLANCE
January 14 (Tues) – 17 (Fri), 2020: Qualifying rounds (free to the public!)
January 18 (Sat) – Kid’s Day
January 19 (Sun) – AO Music for Relief
January 20-27 (Monday through following Monday) – Rounds 1-4
January 28-29 (Tues-Wed) – Quarterfinals
January 30-31 (Thurs-Fri) – Semifinals
February 1 (Sat) – Women’s Finals
February 2 (Sun) – Men’s Finals
2020 Tournament Schedule
2020 Daily Match Schedule of Play (updated in real time based on who advances)
Which are the Main Stadiums? Which Players will be on Which Courts?
Before making any ticket purchase decisions, some important basics:
The two most prestigious stadiums, where the biggest superstars are scheduled to play, require reserved tickets (i.e. you cannot enter with a grounds pass).
- ROD LAVER ARENA (15,000 seats)
Equivalent in stature to Wimbledon’s “Centre Court,” Court Philippe Chatrier at Roland Garros, or the US Open’s Ashe stadium. Entry is by reserved ticket only for the entire tournament. There are separate Day and Night sessions, each requiring a separate ticket, until the final Fri/Sat/Sun (days 12-14). The superstars— most notably Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Serena Williams–will almost certainly be scheduled exclusively on Rod Laver.
- MARGARET COURT ARENA (7,500 seats)
Like No. 1 Court at Wimbledon or Armstrong Stadium at the US Open, but smaller and more intimate. Entry is by reserved ticket only for the first 8 days. There are separate Day and Night sessions for the first 6 days, each requiring a separate ticket. Singles matches are only played on this court through 4th round (all singles matches beginning with Quarterfinals take place on Rod Laver).
The third major stadium, MELBOURNE ARENA (9,646 seats, previously called “Hisense”), is similar in size and stature to the US Open’s “Grandstand” court. Seating is mostly general admission (unreserved), accessible on a first-come basis to anyone with either a grounds pass OR a reserved ticket for either Rod Laver or Margaret Court. A relatively small number of courtside reserved seats are also available for purchase. As Andy Murray explains, this is a place for hardcore fans: “I like playing on this court. It’s nice… It’s a non-ticketed court. So like anyone with a grounds pass can come in. So you get the proper tennis fans, not just the rich people watching. So the atmosphere is much better than on the center court. So I’m hoping they put me on this court to play.” — Andy Murray on Melbourne Arena, quote from the documentary Resurfacing (which we highly recommend!)
Note: Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena, and Melbourne Arena all have retractable roofs and A/C with air filtration in case of rain, excessive heat or poor air quality (a big deal in 2020 given the wildfires and potential impact of smoke in Melbourne).
All other courts–referred to as “OUTSIDE COURTS”– are entirely general admission seating. Seats are accessible on a first-come basis to anyone with either a grounds pass OR a Reserved ticket in either Rod Laver or Margaret Court Arenas. The largest of these are the “1573” Arena and Show Court 3 (each with 3,000 seats).
To get an idea of which players and types of matches are scheduled on the above, see the 2019 daily match schedule for the main courts (shaded rows indicate evening matches).
How to Predict When Specific Players will Play?
There is no way to make even educated guesses until the Day 1 schedule is published and the tournament directors decide which half of the draws will start on Day 1. After the Day 1 schedule is posted on the Daily Match Schedule, here’s how to predict which date(s) your favorites will play:
*** UPDATE FRI JAN 17 11pm EST: Day 1 Schedule just released (see here). Day 1 will feature Men’s Bottom Half (Federer and Novak) and Women’s Top Half of the draw (Serena, Osaka).
- Look to see who is scheduled to play on Day 1 (I.e., which halves of the draw play on Day 1) – check both women and men’s draw, which are treated separately.
- Players scheduled for Day 1 (Mon) will next be scheduled on Day 3 (Wed) if they win, then again on Day 5 (Fri) and Day 7 (Sun) if they keep winning (assuming no rain or other unforeseen delays).
- Players NOT scheduled for Day 1 will first play on Day 2 (Tuesday), then again on Thurs, Sat, and Mon if they advance (again, assuming no schedule snafus due to weather).
- For 2020, the Men’s Top Half includes Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev, Dominic Thiem, and rising star Felix Auger-Aliassime (one of our new favorites). The Men’s Bottom Half includes Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and rising superstar Matteo Berrettini (another one of our new faves).
- The Women’s Top Half includes Ash Barty, Naomi Osaka, and Serena Williams; the Women’s Bottom Half includes Simona Halep, Karolína Plíšková, and Elina Svitolina.
- Full Men’s Draw on AO website (or this ESPN version) and Women’s Draw on AO website (or this ESPN version).
- Great ESPN summary here: “Australian Open 2020 bracket, scores, schedule, how to watch, analysis”
Note: there is no way to predict with absolute certainty whether a player will be on a Day or Night session. Officials tend to alternate scheduling superstars between Day and Night sessions (i.e., if your favorite player is playing a night session on Laver Day 1, there’s a decent chance they will be scheduled for the day session on Laver on Day 3, and if they win probably night session Day 5, and so on). However, it’s all up to the subjective decision making of the tournament director so don’t expect the pattern to hold consistently.