What’s not the same, according to ANZ Player Bank manager David Higgins, is how the players approach dealing with that prize money in the immediate aftermath of their wins.
“The [player] persona you see on court that's very serious very intense is completely opposite [in person].”
“The women are very independent,” he says with a smile. “The guys are reliant on other people to do things.”
Higgins has been the manager of ANZ’s pop-up Melbourne Park branch – or the ‘Player Bank’ as it is known – since its inception in 2009. In this time he’s dealt with a number of tennis’ biggest stars as they walk in with their novelty-size (and proper-sized) winners’ cheques – some more directly than others.
“A lot of the top-seeded men have people to do things for them,” Higgins says. “The likes of your [very well-known men’s players] - they probably wouldn't know where the Player Bank was.”
“Serena [Williams], Maria Sharapova, all the top-seeded women – they all know where it is, they all come in and they’re all happy to have a chat.”
“I'll take Grigor Dimitrov out of that equation,” Higgins says, offering the Bulgarian a reprieve. “He does it himself.”
The Player Bank - part of ANZ’s long-running sponsorship agreement with the Australian Open - is situated in an area of Melbourne Park inadmissible to the public, offering services to players, umpires and associated Tennis Australia officials.
Beginning life as an office turned into a makeshift branch, Higgins says it has now become a permanent pop-up part of life behind the scenes at the Open.
“We would install a safe and we would install the equipment we needed to run it pretty much like a branch,” he said of the early days of the idea.
“This year we're very much in the actual players’ lounge, ten steps from Rod Laver Arena. It’s very secure – there’s a lot of security around. A lot of protocols on where you are and are not allowed to walk.”
Higgins’ general impression of the players is they are quite different in person to their public persona.
“The persona you see on court that's very serious very intense – [it’s] completely opposite [in person],” he says – naming former Open-winner Novak Djokovic in particular.
“I can actually remember seeing [Djokovic] before the final in 2013. I saw [opponent] Andy Murray walking down the corridor and he was very focused and very serious.
“Novak was coming in whistling, smiling, high-fiving people down the corridor saying hello to everybody.”