The Australian Open (AO) is now on track to become the first grand slam to enter the metaverse. The tournament is releasing a collection of  6,776 non-fungible tokens (NFTs) that correspond to tiny plots on the tournament court's surface, along with a virtual event for the competition on the metaverse platform Decentraland.

The metadata of each NFT will be linked to a plot of a tennis court surface in a live tournament. And if the winning shot from a match in the AO lands on that plot, the NFT metadata will be updated in real-time to reflect the match's outcomes. Owners will receive an airdrop with footage of the point, virtual wearables and Australian Open merch.

"The AO has always been seen as one of the most innovative sporting events in the world and this project is just another example of our team pushing the boundaries to provide our fans with better access and engagement with the AO," Tournament director Craig Tiley said in a statement. Tiley describes NFT as an opportunity to be part of the 2022 Australian Open in a way never before available.

Beginning on January 17, the Australian Open's AO Decentraland, a 3D virtual reality platform, will stream the tournament and allow tennis fans to explore the virtual AO. One will be able to engage with grand slam players and other tennis fans and view AO content, and complete challenges at this virtual AO.

"We want the AO to be the world's most accessible and inclusive sports and entertainment event, and with the unique challenges fans have faced getting to Melbourne, we've fast-tracked our launch into the Metaverse," said Ridley Plummer, Tennis Australia's project manager.

NFTs and sports appear to be going hand in hand nowadays, with several sports celebrities like Stephen Curry and major sports brands such as Adidas entering the NFT market last year. In addition, the English Premier League and the NFT space converged late last year.