Chemistry on the court


It’s that time of year again, the tennis season is officially upon us. But as thousands of fans flock to see their favourites battle it out for the top spot in Australian Open, it got us thinking about the chemistry that goes on behind the scenes to make the game possible.

Not the Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf kind of chemistry. We’re talking about the science behind game, and we’ve served up the top seven places you’re likely to find it at the Australian open.

  • Tennis Rackets: Believe it or not, there is some serious science behind the strings of a tennis racket. At BASF, we create chemistry for long-lasting, high-strength nylon, for strings that won’t lose their strength on the court – even when the players do.

  • Shoes: A player’s shoes are almost as important as their racket. According to data from IBM and, in just three rounds of last year’s Open, Rafael Nadal ran around seven kilometres. Chemistry makes polyurethane that’s perfect for the soles of tennis shoes and helps players go the distance.
  • Clothing: From shorts and shirts to sweat bands and hats, chemistry helps create the fibres of these garments long before the fabric is made into clothing. Polymers are an important component of spandex fibres and help make clothes more elastic and comfortable to wear during those long rallies. 
  • Drink bottles: A tennis match can go anywhere from an hour long – to over five hours! Staying hydrated is important for athletes and chemisty has brought innovation to plastic drink bottles over the years so they’re more durable, weather-resistant and recylable than ever before.

  • Smart devices: Over 50 million viewers tuned into the Australian Open from Japan alone last year! Whether you’re watching from a smart device or on the big screen at the stadium, chances are, you’re seeing it because of chemistry. Stabilisers, pigments, UV-absorbers, light stabilisers and flame retardants are all a product of chemistry and used to improve the properties of television monitors and smartphones.
  • Seats: Especially during those long matches, seats at the tennis need to be durable and comfortable! BASF’s performance chemicals, including ultraviolet light absorbers, light stabilisers and flame retardants, as well as our pigments for plastics, are used in many stadium seats. They ensure the seats’ finishing is protected from discoloration, cracking and loss of gloss over time, among other things.
  • Sunscreen: Players, ball hands and crowds are exposed to a lot of sunlight. Chemistry has made it possible to develop innovative sun care products with UVA, UVB and broad-spectrum UV filters that absorb the day’s rays.

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