You may be surprised to see a post about the ATP Cup in Brisbane on my blog. I don’t often write about sports on the blog. I’d sign for a hike or a dive a million times over watching a game. Except maybe when my country is playing one of my favourite sports to watch – football, tennis or rugby. And when you’re an expat 15,000km away from home, it doesn’t happen often.
But that may change. The ATP Cup was launched in January 2020, bringing the best tennis players of 24 countries to three cities in Australia: Brisbane, Sydney and Perth. When we think of tennis and Australia, it’s often about the Australian Open in Melbourne.
Let me tell you why I loved the ATP Cup even more than the famous Melbourne competition, along with a few tips to organise your visit to Brisbane for the ATP Cup.
1. Tickets for the ATP Cup in Brisbane are cheap
The price and cheap ticket availability could vary according to the countries featured. If you book in advance or if you plan to see a game with players that aren’t loved by Australians (remove Nadal, Djokovic and – if he’s there, Federer), you can get adult tickets for as little at $30. They may be sold as having a “restricted view”. We never found the “restricted view” too bad and we always had a very good deal with our $30 tickets.
Also, the closest seats to the court were a lot more affordable than at the Australian Open for instance. For $70, you could get a front-row seat to watch a Top 10 player play.
All teams would play at least three times, three games (two singles, one double). If your country is playing, the ATP Cup is a fantastic opportunity to support your two best players in one go.
2. You will be close to the action at the ATP Cup in Brisbane
The Pat Rafter Arena has a capacity of 5,500 tennis fans. The ATP Cup in Sydney is played at the Ken Rosewall Arena in the Olympic Park Tennis Centre which has 10,500 seats. As another comparison, the RAC Arena in Perth – the thirds city where the ATP Cup is played – has 15,500 seats. That’s even more than the Rod Laver Arena used for the Australian Open in Melbourne which has 14,820 seats.
Hence, even if you book the highest and cheapest seat in Brisbane’s Pat Rafter Arena, you’ll be a lot closer to the court than in other venues.
3. The atmosphere at the ATP Cup in Brisbane is fun
Because the players are defending their country and playing as a team, the atmosphere during the ATP Cup is different from other tournaments. It’s different for the players, who get to speak to their team and coach during the game. And it’s also different in the crowd as they’re cheering for a country and make more noise even for lesser-known players.
Austalia is known to have a group of loyal supporters – the fanatics. We expected the atmosphere to be crazy as they were playing home. It was good, but we were more surprised by the Serbian crowd. Not only did the Serbians took the entire stadium with hundreds of flags and shirts, but they were also making a lot of noise to support their players. Some like Nadal would say they were making too much noise for the player to focus when serving. It’s true that they didn’t always follow the unwritten rules of tennis supporters. During the game against France, a few of our Serbian neighbours were not always fair-play and aware of the tennis etiquette. But it was still good fun. If you want to experience passion and intensity, as well as fantastic tennis, of course, go to watch Serbia play.
4. You can see unusual games at the ATP Cup
When there’s a tie after the two single players matches, the result of the double will decide who the winner is. If the qualification depends on it, the best player may decide to play again in the double. It happened with Djokovic playing against the French team for the group qualification. Nadal also played the double against Belgium for the semi-final qualification. And De Minaur and Kyrios offered an excellent show together to qualify Australia for the semi-final.
5. Where are the best seats in the Pat Rafter Arena?
As it’s a small arena, there aren’t any bad seats really. If you want to be close to the players and their team, a seat behind the referee’s chair should be your choice – but you may have restricted views. The seats behind the team boxes are good for cheering too. But you’ll have to be lucky as we don’t know in advance the box allocation.
I prefer to always sit at the opposite of the referee’s chair. I can see the teams. The referee’s chair doesn’t get in the way. And it’s a different point of view than on TV.
6. You can see the women playing the Brisbane International
There were a few complaints about the women competition being a second-hand event. Indeed, no women game would be featured in the Pat Rafter Arena during the first days as it was reserved for the ATP Cup in Brisbane.
That’s unfortunate for the women, but good news for ATP Cup ticket holders. It was great to be able to watch the qualifiers and some exciting first-round games (Stosur vs Kerber for example) when we didn’t have access to the Pat Rafter Arena.
7. The Brisbane region has a lot to offer
You’ll have a blast exploring the Brisbane region, even if you only have one day that isn’t filled by tennis games. My first recommendation is always Stradbroke Island (you can even scuba dive with Manta Rays!). And Moreton Island is stunning too.
If it’s too hot, then it’s a great time to go out to the rainforest and check out Springbrook National Park for example and its beautiful Natural Bridge or Mount Tamborine with its glow worms and wineries.
If you want to exercise, check out Mount Maroon; it is one of my favourite short hikes.
Where to stay in Brisbane during the ATP Cup?
The Pat Rafter Arena is only a few kilometres outside Brisbane CBD, and so is South Bank – which is where I recommend staying. Public transport is free when you show your ATP Cup ticket. They’ll have a special train waiting for the end of the last game to take you back to South Bank and the CBD.
In the CBD, I recommend having a look at Sofitel hotel* as it’s one of the closest hotels you’ll find near Central Station. Ibis Styles hotel* (good value). If you’re after an apartment, check out Skytower Apartments* and Meriton Apartments*.
South Bank is also very well located on the train line going to the tennis stadium. You’ll be very close to the museums and the lagoons. Check out the Emporium Hotel* if you want to be close to the train station. A bit further away, Arise Ivy & Eve Apartments* are ideal if you’re after an apartment.
If you want more details about accommodation in Brisbane, I wrote a full article here.
I would not recommend staying in Fortitude Valley or New Farm if you are planning to watch the evening games. They may close the station if the game finishes late and you’d have to walk from Brisbane Central or Bowen Hills.