Melbourne, Australia, 3 December 2012 | Matt Trollope

Bright lights. TV cameras. Flashing bulbs. Top tennis players.

It doesn’t sound much different to a blockbuster match on Rod Laver Arena or Arthur Ashe Stadium. Except without the sweaty tennis clothes and aggressive competitors.

Instead, replacing the sportswear were glittering evening gowns and crisp tuxedos as Australia’s finest players arrived at the Palladium Ballroom in Melbourne for the Newcombe Medal Australian Tennis Awards blue carpet ceremony. Smiling for the cameras and gathered masses and relaxed in the company of friends away from the match court, they strutted their stuff as emerging juniors shared the stage with current stars and past legends.

Arriving first were an army of juniors, led by Ashleigh Barty and Storm Sanders and followed by Harry Bouchier, Jacob Grills and Luke Saville.

Although traditionally a night for the ladies to flaunt their dresses and glam up for the cameras, Saville said he also enjoyed the opportunity to don his best outfit at a gala event.

“I’ve actually had a few awards nights (this year) and I guess I’ll (attribute) it to my hard work and my achievements this year. It’s nice to dress up and look around and see the ladies dressing up, and to dress up in a black tie and enjoy yourself,” he said.

Garnering plenty of attention were the Rodionova sisters, Anastasia looking resplendent as she arrived in a sparkling John Cavill design and Arina accompanying her down the blue carpet, a vision in BCBG Maxazria.

Relishing the chance to get out of the tennis clothes which, as they put it, spend “19 hours a day” in, the pair looked extremely at home in front of the cameras as the media snapped away.

“Arina and I really often we like to wearing dresses and we’re always doing our makeup and hair and it’s always great to to change from our clothes and wear something and feel like a girl,” Anastasia said.

“I’m loving it (my dress). I like this flower. I think dark colours look good on me and you know, all the details – you don’t really need much, you know, with it. It looks pretty. The jewellery I’m wearing is Grey Reid Gallery – so they’ve done a great job. Everything is perfect, exactly what I like it. I’m really enjoying everything I’m wearing tonight.”

As the crowd gathered, the atmosphere warmed up and the appetising canapés circulated the room, two men arrived who have built their careers on many a tasty creation. Celebrity chefs Matt Preston and George Calombaris, hosts of Australian MasterChef, joked their way along the carpet – also posing for a quick pic with the Rodionovas – before dropping in for a chat with

Preston, a tennis lover and whose sister Eleanor is a member of the international tennis media, was thrilled that Calombaris’ appearance at the Newcombe Medal made him no longer the worst player in the room. But one thing the pair said they had trouble adapting to was the blue carpet parade.

“We’re the worst at red carpets, blue carpets, any carpet. The only carpet we’re good at is the one that we like on the ground for a snooze,” Calombaris said.

Then the glamour couples began arriving, with Lleyton and Bec Hewitt closely followed by Pat and Lara Rafter.

Hewitt, often overshadowed by the glamorous Bec in the fashion stakes, looked sharp in an all-black suit and said the Newcombe Medal was a great chance to head out with his partner and catch up with some of his best friends.

“(It’s great to) just catch up with all my Davis Cup mates. I don’t get to see them that often and we’re all doing hard work at the moment getting ready for the Australian summer so it’s nice just to put the feet up for the night and get along – they’re my closest mates on tour and Bec knows all their wives and girlfriends, so it’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said.

The Hewitts disappeared into the crowd, leaving Rafter to be swamped by the TV media. During this time, Lara was happy to chat about her evening gown, a stunning ivory creation by Carla Zampatti.

“It’s summery and I like the shape of it all. It’s a good Aussie designer and I like to support her,” she said.

“We live up on the beach in Queensland and it’s very casual where we are … so it’s fun to just get dressed up and come to Melbourne catch up on all (everyone’s) news, have a nice meal and good talk to friends.”

Last but not least, Australia’s top player, world No.9 Sam Stosur, arrived on the blue carpet with coach David Taylor. Stosur, a hot favourite for her third successive Newcombe Medal after an impressive 2012 season, was dressed in a beautiful Eileen Kirby design, it’s shimmering fabric in keeping with the glittering occasion.

A night of glamour. A night of tennis. A night of stars. This is the Newcombe Medal Australian Tennis Awards.