The Australian Open, a long-standing annual tennis tournament held at Melbourne Park, has embraced the use of NFT and Web3 technologies. The organizers recognize the potential for these technologies to expand the tournament’s brand and enhance audience engagement. The latest event, held between January 16 and January 29, was not only notable for Novak Djokovic’s 10th Australian Open title, which equalled Rafael Nadal’s men’s record of 22 Grand Slam titles, but also for the integration of NFTs. The NFTs were associated with every final ball bounce of each match in the 2023 tournament. The court’s grid is mapped out with high-tech cameras, with each plot linked to an NFT. Fans in possession of the NFT corresponding to the plot where the final ball bounces witness the value of their digital collectibles increase, with additional perks guaranteed.
CHAMPIONSHIP POINT MOMENT🏆@DjokerNole's 10th @AustralianOpen win vs. @steftsitsipas is now on-chain, meanwhile the holder of ArtBall #7407 collects 2 tickets 🎫 to next year's #AO24 Men's final in the Rod Laver Arena 🏟️@opensea 👀👇 https://t.co/iI7U7myBHg pic.twitter.com/kbstoGsqqs
— AOmetaverse (@AOmetaverse) January 30, 2023
In addition to the NFTs, the Australian Open has also introduced “Artballs.” During the men’s final, Djokovic’s winning match point landed on Plot #1174, which was associated with an “Artball” NFT of ball #7407. The holder of the NFT was the lucky recipient of tickets to next year’s tournament.
The Australian Open has also established a presence in Decentraland, a virtual world, through a collaboration with Run it Wild, an NFT development studio. The Australian Open in Decentraland was the highest attended destination in the virtual world, with over 175,000 visits. This integration of NFT and Web3 technologies has set a precedent that could prompt other major tournaments and leagues to follow suit.