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The Australian Open is the first great tennis platform that combines art, technology blockchain, digital properties, collecting and the new economy that is registered under the acronym that is fashionable in sport: the NFT. The famous non-fungible tokens –which have become an obligatory topic of conversation, as a unique artistic expression that is traded with cryptocurrencies–, will have from Australia a high bar for the future of these experiences in tennis.

Alongside the action of real matches, the Grand Slam tournament is brought to the forefront by creating an offering of these one-of-a-kind pieces that bridge the virtual world with the courts of Melbourne Park. Australian Open (AO) created a market called “AO Art Ball” based on a collection of a total of 6776 NFT put up for auction on the Open Sea platform, which we could take the license to call “the Free Market of NFTs”. The collection consists of 6776 Dunlop balls, intervened as digital art, made by artists contracted by the tournament and by others who participated in an open call to exhibit and negotiate their art.

The experience links the art piece with the metadata produced by actual championship matches. Each court at the Australian Open is divided into 6,776 virtual pitches, and NFTs connect directly to what’s happening on the court. Game-defining shots in one of those plots give the NFT more value.

An example: when Taro Daniel won the last point from Andy Murray in the second round, his final shot fell on plot 2424. more value to the digital piece by adding a game action and adding what in this marketplace it is known as a “rarity”. If the NFT since its creation was already a unique piece, the incorporated data of the match point makes it even more special.

The prices of these NFTs are given in the criptomoneda ethereum and are put up for auction with a base price. Once acquired, NFT holders can list them on the market for trading. An NFT linked to Rafael Nadal’s match point in his first match of the tournament went on sale with a value of 2 eth, that is, $4,854. Cryptocurrency quotes are known to be more than volatile and the price on conversion can fluctuate frequently. In case someone is interested in Rafa Nadal’s NFT, it is mentioned that it is #3231 of the collection.

From orthodox balls, like the ones that Rafael Nadal is not liking because they are too light and fly low, to virtual ones: the Australian Open ventures into digital art and links the spheres with special moments of the championship.
From orthodox balls, like the ones that Rafael Nadal is not liking because they are too light and fly low, to virtual ones: the Australian Open ventures into digital art and links the spheres with special moments of the championship.BRANDON MALONE – AFP

What the Australian Open does is so far the most innovative thing that has been done in tennis in terms of NFT, a digital collecting market that had the NBA as its precursor. In addition to the collection of tennis balls, the tournament has reserved a final sale of 11 real balls that will be used in the men’s final next Sunday.

The NFTs work in a collection format and in sports they achieve special meaning when they concentrate different attractions. The Australian Open proposal with its 6,776 NFTs proposes that each owner “own” a portion of the court and link that digital property to a single moment, such as a match point. In short, keep a part of the history of a Grand Slam tennis event. The first to do so was Australia. Roland Garros should not be left behind.


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