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The Nation’s Tournament: Mastercard combines technology and fandom to take audiences behind the scenes at the Australian Open

February 11, 2021 Sports No Comments

After a year of closed borders, closed doors and closed communities, Mastercard has combined its passion for technology with the nation’s love of tennis to bring fans closer to the Australian Open (AO) than ever before, announcing the launch of its Virtual Fan and The Nation’s Spectators initiatives at this year’s tournament.

With travel restrictions and reduced capacity preventing many Aussies from attending the first Grand Slam of the year in person, Mastercard’s Virtual Fan – three livestreaming, roaming humanoids – and The Nation’s Spectators – two of Australia’s biggest tennis fanatics, handpicked to capture the raw emotion and excitement of the AO – aim to connect the rest of the country with the tournament no matter where they are.

Virtual Fan

Taking Aussies at home into the very heart of the grounds, Virtual Fan will provide a behind-the-scenes look at one of the world’s biggest tennis tournaments. Through livestreamed footage and Zoom interactivity, fans will be able to fully immerse themselves in the tournament experience wherever these humanoids roam – from getting amongst the players to being a fly on the wall at some of the most coveted areas of the park.  

Virtual Fan, a life-sized humanoid, will bring people even closer to the tournament through interactive and livestreamed experiences including a live meet and greet with tennis legend Jim Courier, a livestream of a training session with Naomi Osaka, and more. Tennis fans can even have their own five minutes of fame through a bespoke Instagram filter that will beam their face onto Virtual Fan: a chance to show their passion for the game and maybe even be seen on TV.

The Nation’s Spectators

Ahead of the AO, Mastercard conducted an extensive search to find two of Australia’s most passionate tennis fans to take on the role of The Nation’s Spectators – tasked with capturing the energy and excitement of Melbourne Park, and sharing it with the rest of the nation.

As roving reporters they’ll document everything they see and do – including Priceless experiences such as a masterclass with a tennis legend and joining a culinary session with an AO chef to learn about player nutrition, bringing the rest of the nation along on the journey.

Tennis fans from around the country shared their stories with Australian tennis legend John Millman who helped notify the final Nation’s Spectators – one an enthusiastic super fan handpicked for his love for the sport; the other a tennis fan who used his passion for tennis to bring his local community together during challenging times.

  • Marc Sophoulis: Despite losing work due to the pandemic and his house flooding, Marc used his love of tennis to help others navigate their way through 2020. Throughout the year, Marc mentored young children in his community and student athletes at his local school, teaching them to play tennis and helping them to stay positive and motivated.
  •  Jonathan Kim Sing: Jonathan is one of Australia’s biggest tennis fans. Having grown up playing and spectating tennis with his family, Jonathan initiated his very own ‘local open’, bringing his local community together over a rally. The full-time maths teacher also analyses match statistics and player strategies from the grandstands.

“The thing I love most about tennis is the ability it has to connect a nation. With borders uncertain, Mastercard wanted to help make sure that people could still come together for this year’s AO. The Virtual Fan and Nation’s Spectators will play an important role in connecting fans to the AO no matter where they are. It’s been great to come together with Mastercard to connect tennis fans who can’t be there in person with the energy that vibrates through Melbourne Park during the tournament,” said John Millman, professional tennis player and ATP ranked world number 38.

Marc and Jonathan both understand the power tennis holds to build optimism and bring people together, so I’m looking forward to watching the content they capture while they’re on ground.”

Richard Wormald, Division President, Australasia, Mastercard said: “After a year like no other, Mastercard’s ambition is to connect Aussie tennis fans with the tournament, no matter where they are. Mastercard believes everybody deserves the opportunity to attend the AO this year so, by combining technology and fan passion, Mastercard is hopeful even more people will be able to enjoy the tournament, and in a way that has never been done before.”

Follow the footsteps of The Nation’s Spectators and Virtual Fan experiences and Open the Open at

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