Australian Open 2024
The 2024 Australian Open sees the top players in the world do battle for the opening grand slam title of the season. Check Men’s Health for up-to-date information about the Australian Open and exclusive content.
TENNIS HAS LONG featured in our everyman get-up. And it’s been an evolving beautiful beast, influenced by the best in the game, from the renegade style of Andre Agassi and John McEnroe who, together, nudged the boundaries with bright, bold and structured, to the pared back, effortless style of Roger Federer, right up to today with the new crop of stars including Coco Gauff, Francis Tiafoe, and Jannik Sinner. Court style has permeated mainstream dressing for decades, and this new collaboration is no exception. In fact, we’re so taken with it, we’ve cherry picked six of our tennis-cum-street-style favourites, and how best to style them on and off the court.
1. Coco CG1
Navy, red, ginger lemon. More is absolutely more with these unisex sneakers that bounce between court pow to sidewalk wow. Whether you’re pairing these with your tennis ensemble (classic white top, A-line tennis skirt or shorts) and letting the shoes speak for themselves, or you’re angling for everyday use with a pair of jeans and a tee, it’s a proclamation of style, harking back to 90s aesthetics and basketball silhouettes. Take note too, due to their NDurance rubber technology these kicks are designed for durability and will last the distance.
Timeless, clean, simple – the BB480 blends form and function, incorporating soft full-grain leather and an Ortholite insert for comfort. On the court, choose louder colours on top – patterns, sets, you name it – for an understated look on the bottom. And in terms of street style, women can pair them with a frill sock and skirt, while men can settle on chinos for smart casual.
If you’re going to merch, you’re going to merch hard, right? And that’s the flavour of the moment, with influencers and celebrities alike donning sporting paraphernalia in everyday life. So, fall in step with the zeitgeist and opt for this crew neck graphic tee. On the court, pair it with a pair of New Balance shorts. For everyday use, men and women can similarly pair the graphic tee with a denim pant or skirt. Classic.
For our money, this is the pick of the bunch. The bold colour and flawless design makes this coaches jacket a crucial and versatile piece for any wardrobe. In summer, pair with a polo, or in winter with a hoodie in a contrasting colour.
This isn’t Wimbledon so while the white on white rule is not a mandatory at the AO, keeping things classic with a crisp white polo is never a bad move on the court. It’s such a classic in fact, you can recycle this look off the court with a light blue pair of jeans and sneakers.
Classic Australiana meets new age cool, a bucket hat needs to be in everyone’s 2024 wardrobe. Keep things simple here, pairing the bucket hat with a plain white T or singlet. (Only available at the New Balance pop up at the AO.)
To browse more of the Australian Open New Balance collection, head to the site here.
THE SECOND HALF of January in Australia means one thing: tennis. Each night the nation collectively tunes into watch one of the best reality TV dramas you could ever hope to see, featuring a cast of flamboyant, talented, temperamental, attractive, athletic and dedicated characters.
It’s easy to get seduced by the high-stakes drama, underdog tales and comeback stories and be inspired by feats of endurance, stamina, mastery and precision. Over the years, the first grand slam of the year has served up a raft of memorable moments that keep us up at night and provide fodder for water cooler moments at the office the next morning—already today, I’ve remarked to a colleague about Novak Djokovic’s fiery exchange with an abusive fan during his four-set victory over Aussie, Alexei Popyrin last night (sadly there wasn’t a water cooler in sight).
Here, we look back on some of the most memorable moments in the history of the Australian Open.
1 Djokovic outlasts Nadal – 2012
This one was a five hour and 53 minute humdinger that left many of us bleary-eyed at work the next morning. This match is in the conversation as one of the greatest grand slam finals of all time and is certainly the longest, as two of the game’s GOAT contenders traded baseline blows all night, culminating in a monster 31-shot rally that caused Djokovic to fall on his back and sent Nadal stumbling to the sidelines.
“I was just thinking of getting some air and trying to recover for next point… ,” Djokovic said afterwards. “Thousand thoughts going through the mind. Trying to separate the right from wrong. Trying to prioritise the next point. I’m playing against one of the best players ever—the player that is so mentally strong. He was going for everything or nothing.”
In the end, Djokovic would finally prevail at 1.37 am, tearing off his shirt and roaring towards his team in a moment anyone who saw it will never forget.
2 Cash comes up short, again
This one is digging into the archives a little bit but back in 1988 Pat Cash was on a roll. The charismatic pin-up boy’s mullet and chequered headband combo were a symbol of Aussie pride. Cash was hot off a Wimbledon triumph the previous June after succumbing to Swede Stefan Edberg in a five-set thriller at the Australian Open the year before. This time another Swede, Mats Wilander, lay in his path to Aus Open glory, as the two engaged in a heart-stopping four-hour epic that saw Wilander triumph 8-6 in the fifth set and caused dads all over the country to throw tinnies at their TV screens.
3 Agassi denies Rafter – 2001
Rafter, a back-to-back US Open champion in 1997-98 and a two-time Wimbledon finalist, had never managed to break through to an Australian Open final. In 2001, in what would be his last appearance at Melbourne Park, the Queenslander met all-time great Andre Agassi in a semi-final for the ages. In cauldron-like conditions the players made each other work in long, drawn-out baseline rallies.
Agassi recently told MH it was his most memorable Aus Open encounter: “It was like the biggest sporting event down here, maybe historically. Him having me two sets to one. And I just remember having to go into the locker room at the end of the third because we were just dripping. The roof got closed. It was so hot and humid and we both were losing so much fluid. And my stuff is like, soaked. I had to change everything. Shoes, socks and my head was ringing because you don’t realise how loud something is until you actually have quiet and when I got in the locker room it was like you’re sitting in the worst place in a concert where your ears are just ringing. And I went back out there and, you know, obviously everybody wanted Rafter to win. But as we got deep into like the warrior zone, it was incredible how fair they were to just two honest gladiators. They cheered us as we deserved for what we were doing, regardless of who was winning the point. That really endeared me for a long period of time. I felt Aussie too.”
Unfortunately for Rafter, he would be hampered by cramp as the match wore on as the Las Vegas showman smelled blood, coming back to win 7-5 2-6 6-7 6-2 6-3.
4 Barty has her party – 2022
Ash Barty already had two grand slams under her belt but had yet to win at home. While not an epic by any means, Barty did have to rally from 1-5 down in the second set against her opponent, Danielle Collins, to triumph 6-3 7-6. But the victory was memorable in other ways, for it made Barty the first Australian, man or women, to win the Australian Open in 44 years. The victory would assume even greater significance less than two months later when Barty shocked the nation by retiring at just 25.
5 McEnroe loses it – 1990
Mac the brat, had largely cooled off from the early ’80s when he regularly lashed out at fans and officials with tirades and invective that have entered the vernacular: “You cannot be serious” stands as an all-time great response to a partner’s request that you do the dishes, while “Answer the question. The question, jerk!” is unparalleled as a mode of enquiry to a younger sibling. But in 1990, in the twilight of his illustrious career, the then world No.9 was disqualified in his fourth-round match against Mikael Penfors and ejected from the tournament after receiving three code violations for unsportsmanlike conduct and intimidation against a line umpire. Mac was also fined $6,500 USD for the ear-bleeding outburst.
6 Federer outduels Nadal – 2017
By 2017, even the most diehard fans of the two founding members of ‘The Big Three’ would have thought it unlikely that the two great rivals and icons of the game would meet in another Grand Slam final. Both came into the match having endured a torrid run with injuries. Rafa had not made the quarterfinal of a major since Roland Garros in 2015. Federer, who was 35 at the time, hadn’t won a Grand Slam since Wimbledon in 2012.
Of course, the match went to five sets. Federer landed the first blow, taking out the first set 6-4. Nadal responded with 6-3 in the second. Federer went up a gear in the third, running his opponent ragged in a 6-1 masterclass. He looked to have the momentum but Rafa never lies down and he didn’t here, coming back 6-3 in the fourth. He then got an early break in the fifth to take a 3-1 lead but Federer dug deep to reel off five straight games and secure a 6-3 win.
Afterward the sentimental Swiss wept as he hugged his idol Rod Laver, a moment that made chests swell and bottom lips quiver across the country. He further tugged on the nation’s heartstrings with a heartfelt tribute to his great rival: “Tennis is a tough sport, there’s no draws. But if there was going to be one I would have been very happy to accept a draw tonight and share it with Rafa. Really.” Fed: classy and cheesy, as always.
UPON COMPLETING A thrilling five-set victory over Sebastian Ofner at the Australian Open last night, Thanasi Kokkinakis did something most players usually reserve for victory in the final of a Grand Slam tournament: he turned to the crowd and let out a clenched fist, guttural roar.
It was perhaps a little OTT for a first-round victory, but if you’ve followed Kokkinakis’ career over the last decade, you could probably forgive the 27-year-old for the histrionics.
Back in the mid-2010s, Kokkinakis was seen as the more subdued but equally talented stablemate to Nick Kyrgios. The pair, who are close friends and went on to form a successful doubles’ duo that reached its apex with victory at the 2022 Australian Open, were regarded, along with Bernard Tomic, as the future of Australian tennis. So, what went wrong?
In the case of Tomic and Kyrgios, expectations, fame, infamy and off-field incidents have served to derail their promising careers. Kokkinakis’ fate, though, was influenced by a more prosaic but equally damaging demon: injury.
After a promising start to his career that saw him finish 2015 with an ATP ranking of 80, the South Australian’s woes began with a shoulder injury that saw him sit out most of the 2016 season. He would return the next year and in 2018 had the biggest victory of his career over Roger Federer at the Miami Open, only to lose in the next round.
Injuries struck again in 2019 and from there Kokkinakis saw his stock plummet as he divided his time between the physio’s table and the court, gaining tournament wildcards here and there and even claiming the odd scalp of a highly-ranked player, only for his body to let him down again just when it looked like he was on his way to fulfilling his prodigious talent.
At the 2019 US Open he took out Ilya Ivashka in four sets, setting up a second-round meeting with second seed Rafael Nadal. But moments before the match he was forced to withdraw due to another shoulder injury. If you believe in curses, Kokkinakis offered proof.
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While his story is sad it’s not uncommon. In fact, it may even be the norm in the sporting world these days. Sports are increasingly becoming theatres of attrition and sports physios and psychologists have probably never enjoyed a more fruitful time as they attempt to restore their clients’ bodies and mental equilibriums. Kokkinakis’ buddy, the preposterously talented Kyrgios, has seen his career derailed by his own body of late; he’s spending this Australian Open behind the mic on his podcast. In the NBA, meanwhile, Ben Simmons’ blazing start to his career in Philadelphia now seems like it belonged to another player, as continued back complaints see him consigned to the bench in drippy clothes, the season passing him by.
For fans who invest in these rollercoaster rides, frustration is inevitable. With each comeback our faith in the player’s ability to reward us diminishes and cynicism grows. You can find yourself unfairly regarding the player with contempt, particularly if his injuries are accompanied by perceived public arrogance, aloofness and swaggy Insta grids. But Insta, as we’ve been told many times, is a curated representation of someone’s life. We know nothing of what’s really going on behind the scenes, the work that goes into rehabbing an injury, or the hours on the physio’s table. When the player manages to flip the script on his supposed fate and then screams in triumph at a delirious crowd, perhaps we get a glimpse.
But as Kokkinakis continues his next tantalising comeback, it’s tough to get your hopes up too high. Next round he plays 13th seed Grigor Dimitrov, where in all likelihood his tournament will come to an end. But there’s a chance it won’t. As he told reporters after last night’s marathon victory, “I back myself … I’ve beaten high-ranked players before . . . It’s about coming out on the day and playing my best tennis”. Given his injury history, that would be a victory in itself.
FEW TENNIS CAREERS have rivalled Andre Agassi’s for on-court showmanship and off-court intrigue. Throughout the ’80s and ’90s Agassi was appointment viewing, initially as a flash, brash wunderkind who sported a mullet, flouted dress codes with fluoro shirts and generally lit up a rather staid circuit (remind you of anybody?). Later, his mullet shorn after a celebrated and ultimately losing battle with hair loss, Agassi was reborn as a statesman of the game, enjoying a titanic rivalry with Pete Sampras as he became one of the sport’s all-time greats, winning eight Grand Slams including four Australian Opens.
Back in Australia to promote Uber One in a campaign that honours the player’s iconic ’80s mullet, Agassi nominates his epic 2001 semi-final encounter with local favourite Pat Rafter as his most memorable Australian Open moment.
“I’ll never forget playing Rafter in the semi-finals, night match,” says Agassi, who’s speaking to MH at Allianz stadium in Sydney. “It was like the biggest sporting event down here, maybe historically. Him having me two sets to one. And I just remember having to go into the locker room at the end of the third because we were just dripping. The roof got closed. It was so hot and humid and we both were losing so much fluid. And my stuff is like, soaked. I had to change everything. Shoes, socks and my head was ringing because you don’t realise how loud something is until you actually have quiet and when I got in the locker room it was like you’re sitting in the worst place in a concert where your ears are just ringing. And I went back out there and, you know, obviously everybody wanted Rafter to win. But as we got deep into like the warrior zone, it was incredible how fair they were to just two honest gladiators. They cheered us as we deserved for what we were doing, regardless of who was winning the point. That really endeared me for a long period of time. I felt Aussie too.”
With this year’s Open kicking off on Sunday, Agassi finds it hard to see anyone preventing world number one and grand slam GOAT Novak Djokovic from claiming an 11th Australian Open title. “I mean how do you bet against Novak, ever? You probably have to go Novak one, Alcaraz coming in there at two, slightly ahead of Medvedev, who’s probably slightly ahead of Sinner,” says Agassi. “Once you see the surface, how the ball’s playing, then you can start giving edges to people.”
“Obviously, Nick Kyrgios comes to mind just because he’s that entertaining to watch because you don’t know what you’re going to see because he’s so talented. De Minaur, I mean that guy could run on water, it seems. Just like a water bug, right. The way he scoots across the court, his competitiveness. He never stops bouncing around. I would cramp up if I played like him. He’s really fun to watch as well.”
These days the 53-year-old father of two picks up a racquet around once a month, instead scratching his competitive itch in the booming sport of pickleball. “I competed last year in this pickleball slam, me and Roddick against Chang and McEnroe, and it was a $1,000,000 winner take all ESPN thing,” he says. “It was so much fun trying to get ready for that and realising what a workout it actually was and I said, I’m going to get into this. And sure enough, over the summer I’ve just been going nuts. I love the fact that you can improve at it. Every time I play, I feel like I’m getting better.”
Does a background in tennis translate to the pint-sized imitation? “Tennis translates to pickleball,” Agassi confirms. But going from pickleball to tennis might be more difficult, he says. “I’ve been only playing pickleball for like five months and not having picked up a tennis racquet during that time, I picked one up the other day for the sake of it and I couldn’t believe how heavy it was. I couldn’t believe how long it was. I couldn’t believe how far the person was on their side of the net. I couldn’t believe how fast the ball was coming and how much time I had. And then I couldn’t believe I hit the first five balls to the back fence. So tennis translates to pickle more than pickle translates to tennis.”
He’s managed to convert his wife, Steffi Graf, to the sport, too, and admits they’re both competitive, though in slightly different ways. “We’re both viciously competitive with ourselves,” he says. “We express it kind of differently. We kind of have the same intensity, but she’s not as worried about being better than somebody. I probably have a little bit more of that in my game.”
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Retiring back in 2006 at a time when Roger Federer had just begun his ascendancy but the ‘Big Three’ rivalry with Nadal and Djokovic had yet to take shape, Agassi is struck by the way technology and athleticism have influenced the modern game. “Generally speaking, athletes are bigger, stronger, faster [today],” he says. “Everybody now has grown up with the technology and the strings and the racquets, so they get rewarded for playing aggressively. But the spin and the athleticism have changed the rules of engagement of how people play against each other. The geometry has changed a bit in the sense that balls can bend and balls can get down and balls can get up and over and down. So, you just see people having more time. It actually gives you more time and shrinks the court in a lot of weird ways. These guys move so well they can kind of contain the spin and geometry just by being able to use their legs. It’s a whole different animal.”
As detailed in his seminal autobiography, Open, written with acclaimed ghost writer J.R. Moehringer, Agassi’s dad was hellbent on his son becoming a pro tennis player, driving him relentlessly on a homemade court. Given how Agassi was forced into tennis by his father, you wonder how the experience has influenced his attitude to his own children’s forays onto the sporting field, particularly his son, Jaden, who plays college baseball for the USC Trojans. “My biggest issue with my dad was the lack of choice I had in anything, right? So that was solved way early with me as a father, in that it was not my life to live, it’s my children’s. I just hold them accountable to what they say they love and what they say they want and go along on the journey. Everybody has their path.”
Fave gym move?
Bench press PB?
I spent most of my career around about 300 lb (136 kg). And then after my career, I had more time and I got up to 315 (142 kg). Now I’m just really careful so it’s all about volume.
You can’t outrun bad habits.
I’m a grease and salt person more than I’m a sweet person. So if I had my last meal, so to speak, I’d grease up.
Fave Aussie slang?
I know so many Aussies that say no worries, and yet you damn well know that it’s a worry. Like, what’s up with that?
I’m pretty legendary. I mean, the high, high, high, high fours. It only takes one person, though, right?
Do you miss your mullet?
I don’t miss any time I ever spent wasting on hair issues, including the worry of losing it.
Is there a secret to a great mullet?
You got to own it, man, like, full conviction. You can’t go halfway. Go big or go home.
Andre Agassi is an ambassador for Uber One
JANUARY IS FAST approaching its half way point, bringing about the return to life as usual. Christmas decorations have long been packed away and the excuse to start making cocktails at 2pm is more a cry for help than it is festive spirit. But, it’s not all bad. Because as we cling desperately to our new year’s resolutions, January also means the return of the Australian Open, the number one event in Australia’s tennis calendar. The first grand slam of the year, the AO will start on Sunday January 14 and for the first time ever has announced global athletic leader New Balance as its Official Performance Apparel and Footwear Provider. From shorts and tanks, to shoes, polos and joggers, the line is designed with both athletes and fans in mind, meaning you can enjoy the same fusion of form and function whether you’re on the court, or watching from the stands.
“This is more than a sponsorship,” explains global director of sports marketing for New Balance tennis, Evan Zeder. “It is a celebration of two brands dedicated to growing the game and inspiring the next generation of tennis players and fans. Together, we are committed to making a lasting impact on the world of tennis and leaving a lasting impression on the hearts of future athletes.”
It’s a savvy move. While the Australian Open enjoys its premier place as the first and arguably the most iconic of all Aussie sporting events, tennis itself has struggled in recent years to connect with younger generations. In New Balance, the AO has a partner uniquely embedded in the youth and pop culture zeitgeist.
Propelled by a desire to do things differently, New Balance has established itself as one of the most exciting brands in athleisure through its clean design principles and clever partnerships with brands like Aimé Lore Deon and rapper/author Action Bronson. Limited edition lines are instant sell outs and it’s almost impossible to walk a stretch of pavement without seeing a handful of people wearing sneakers with the brand’s iconic ‘N’. Outside of streetwear, New Balance has also made impressive inroads within tennis in recent years, announcing Americans Coco Gauff and Tommy Paul as ambassadors.
The brand’s apparel general manager, Jeff Garabedian is excited to see the new collection in stores. “From bold graphics and vibrant colours to clean and classic designs, the AO range caters to diverse tastes,” he says. “Whether you’re a young fan inspired by the latest trends or a seasoned tennis enthusiast appreciating timeless styles, there’s something for everyone in this exciting collection.”
The new range will be available to shop at New Balance’s retail activation at the Australian Open, located outside Rod Laver Arena. Just like the brand’s in-store presence, the activation will offer fans an immersive space to enjoy the energy of the AO and experience the collection up close. The range will also be able to shop online here and at the Melbourne Central and Chadstone flagship stores.