The 2013 Australian Open has officially begun, with big crowds streaming through the gates of Melbourne Park this morning.
Spectators braved overcast conditions, with some lining up for hours to get a glimpse of their favourite tennis stars and experience all that the 2013 Australian Open has to offer. Fans from all over the world and of all ages were in line when the gates opened at 10am. Among them was a group of Roger Federer fans, decked out in red and white and draped in Swiss flags.
Federer is not even on today’s schedule, but his fans were already in full voice ahead of his round one match tomorrow.
Theresa Benson of Ringwood and her son James Benson were one of the first through the gates after arriving at Melbourne Park at 7.30am. They were aiming to secure good seats at Margaret Court Arena to cheer on Australian Casey Dellacqua in her match against American wildcard Madison Keys later today.
“We come every year. I just love the tennis and the atmosphere,” Benson said.
The atmosphere is what also keeps Kerry Wells of Rockhampton coming back each year. This is the seventh straight year she has travelled to Melbourne to attend the event. This year she brought friend Margaret Olive, who is attending her first Australian Open.
“I couldn’t sleep last night I was so excited,” Olive said.
The pair are hoping to see fellow Queenslander Samantha Stosur win when she plays second on Rod Laver Arena. Stosur faces Chinese Taipai’s Kai-Chen Chang. Russian star Maria Sharapova, the 2008 Australian Open champion, will open the tournament on centre court when she plays fellow Russian Olga Puchkova.
Morris Bath travelled from New Zealand to be part of the opening day crowd. It has become a tradition for Bath, having it done it for the past five years.
“I come for the week and have a look around and watch a lot of tennis,” he said. “I’m hoping to see Marcus Baghdatis tonight and I’ll also support the New Zealand girl (Marina) Erakovic.”