The Auckland Open has woken a nation of tennis enthusiasts. If anything, it's proven you don't need to fight your way to the sidelines of the Aussie Open or centre court at Wimbledon to see world-class racket work. Instead we follow the ATP and WTA calendar to the five of the best tennis destinations you might not have considered. Grand Slams be damned.
Rio Open presented by Claro
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
2018.02.19 - 2018.02.25, ATP
Like a distant soapstone umpire, Christ the Redeemer peers into the Rio Open. Who could blame him? In Brazil's soccer-mad party capital, Tennis is the hot ticket this week. The floodlit clay courts of RDJ Jockey Club lend a spectacular carnival atmosphere. If that wasn't enough, the stadium is a short samba line away from the beaches of Ipanema, Leblon and the infamous Copacabana.
Millennium Estoril Open
2018.04.30 - 2018.05.06, ATP
Clube de Ténis do Estoril
As the Portuguese April heats up Estoril is preparing to welcome the stars of world tennis. Since 1990, this Iberian seaside resort has become a favourite of the international circuit. Matches here offer a closer proximity to the players. Also nearby are the cities of Lisbon, Sintra and Cascais and stunning scenery. The Clube de Ténis do Estoril is Sandwiched between the sea and the pine-covered hills of the Cascais National Park. Make the most of day trips to the surfing beaches of the Estoril Coast and the brilliantly bonkers Pena Palace.
Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open
Newport, RI, U.S.A.
2018.07.16 - 2018.07.22 ATP
New England's most prestigious lawn tennis club is home to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. While not the biggest tournament, its lawns are hallowed ground. An over-blown Rhode Island garden party, it pulls in spectators from the nearby states of Massachusetts, New York and Maine. This is Wimbledon with lobsters. Surrounding the tournament are Rhode Island's mansions, sail-filled seaside resorts and the founding chapters of American history. A suitably grand setting for the Hall. Don't miss the annual induction of new greats to the 1955 club, joining the likes of Fred Perry and Tony Wilding.
J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad
2018.07.23 - 2018.07.29 ATP
2018.07.16 - 2018.07.22 WTA
Eyes on court! This is possibly the most scenic backdrop to a tennis venue you'll find. The Alps and the ritzy Gstaad Palace Hotel surround the Swiss Open on all sides. Close to the home pastures of all-time great Rodger Federer, the town is host to a herd of very special heffers - prize cows, marking the Swiss's Grand Slam victories. Clear your head and take a hike in unbeatable scenery where French and German speaking Switzerland meet. Or head to the Glacier Diablerets and nearby Zermatt for year-round skiing, even in balmy September.
Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018
2018.10.01 - 2018.10.07 ATP
2018.09.17 - 2018.09.23 WTA
First held in 1972, Tokyo's Japan Open is the longest-running World Tour tennis tournament in Asia. Played at the Ariake Coliseum, the tournament is home to another tennis first - the retractable stadium roof. Here it's possible to catch a world-class match set against the Tokyo skyline. Set in Odaiba Marine Park, in the central ward of Koto, the Ariake Tennis Forest Park commands fantastic views of Tokyo harbour reminiscent of Manhattan. This might also have something to do with the almost inexplicable Statue of Liberty replica - a temporary installation from 1999.