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2022 Australian Open: Money, Melbourne, and the Metaverse

This year’s tournament at Melbourne Park promises more prize money for top performers, not to mention tennis’ first official swing into the world of Web3.

The start to the 2022 Grand Slam season has surely served up plenty of drama already, but this year’s Australian Open boasts several other storylines β€” from player favorites to bigger and more equitable paydays, and the sport’s first-ever volley into non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

While the tournament is typically tennis‘ highest attended Grand Slam β€” the 2020 Aussie Open drew 812,000 people β€” this year’s event will once again be tempered due to COVID-19. Similar to last year’s tourney, crowds are expected to be capped by 50%.

Perhaps the biggest headline leading into this year’s competition is the absence of some of the sport’s biggest names. Both Serena Williams and Roger Federer are out recovering from injury, and last year’s men’s singles champion, world No. 1 Novak Djokovic, is unable to compete after being deported due to his vaccination status.

But there’s still plenty of star power on both the men’s and women’s draw.

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Naomi Osaka is back in Melbourne, fresh off an extended break from tennis to defend her title, and Rafael Nadal leads a loaded field of men looking to lay claim to the throne.

With plenty going on in the land down under, let’s first have a look at the stakes for tennis’ first big showcase of 2022.

The World’s Best Return to Melbourne

On the men’s side, last year’s runner-up, Daniil Medvedev, is the clear front runner, while homegrown talent Ashleigh Barty is the favorite in the women’s draw.

Here’s what FanDuel Sportsbook has served up in terms of futures odds:

Men’s Singles Outright Betting Odds

  • Daniil Medvedev (+145)
  • Alexander Zverev (+270)
  • Rafael Nadal (+700)
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas (+1600)
  • Jannik Sinner (+1800)
  • Matteo Berrettini (+2100)
Odds to reach the 2022 Australian Open men’s singles final (via FanDuel Sportsbook, 17 Jan. 2022)

Women’s Singles Outright Betting Odds

  • Ashleigh Barty (+280)
  • Naomi Osaka (+800)
  • Iga Swiatek (+1200)
  • Garbine Muguruza (+1400)
  • Simona Halep (+1400)
  • Anett Kontaveit (+1400)

But bettors won’t be the only ones cashing in from this year’s Aussie Open. Whoever wins this year’s first slam is surely in for a nice payday.

Prize Money at the Australian Open

With the biggest prize pool out of the four major tennis Grand Slams, this year’s open promises $54 million (USD) total in winnings β€” the largest yet and a 4.9% increase over last year.

And with equal prize money for the men’s and women’s tournaments, the respective winners will walk away splitting $3.19 million, with the runners-up earning a split of $1.6 million.

Here’s a look at what each player can expect for winnings in US dollars as they work their way through each round. Prize money is split equally between both the men’s and women’s singles winners.

Final StandingsTotal Prize
Winners$3.19 million
Runner-Ups$1.6 million
Fourth Round$214,727
Third Round$128,836
Second Round$100,206
First Round$64,418

But not every player will earn more this year, compared to last year.

According to a breakdown of the prize money, only players who advance past the quarterfinals will see an increase in their payday. Prize money for players who fail to make it that far actually constitutes less of a return than in 2021.

In addition to bumping up the bag for winners, organizers of this year’s Aussie Open are also embracing the ever-expanding world of Web3.

Game, Set, Metaverse

The first official tennis grand slam in the Metaverse is coming to Melbourne.

Tennis Australia, the organizer of the tournament, has partnered with Decentraland, Run It Wild, and Metakey to create a variety of offerings β€” the biggest of which involves a virtual experience that allows users to look around a digital re-creation of the Aussie Open’s grounds and speak with players and other fans.

Tennis fans can also purchase NFTs that automatically update with metadata collected from the event. The drop includes 6,776 “art balls” β€” each ball representing a 19cm by 19cm plot of tennis court surface randomly assigned when each token is minted.

The NFTs will be highly linked to the actual action, as each time a winning shot lands in that plot during any match at the 2022 Australian Open, the relevant NFT will be updated in real-time with match and ball tracking data.

β€œWith this next wave of technology, global tennis fans will have the opportunity to be part of the 2022 Australian Open in a way never before available,” said tournament director Craig Tiley.

The project is built on the Ethereum blockchain, and 50% of all funds raised through the NFT offerings will be directed to carbon offsetting and charitable causes.

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