For most tennis fans, The Australian Open is simply the first major tennis tournament of the year, which is true, but that’s just part of it; it has a unique history as well, and there are some fun facts that perhaps you don’t know which you might find interesting.
The Australian Open
A brief summary of the Grand Slam down under.
This year marks the 106th edition of the Australian Open of all-time, the 50th edition of the tournament in the Open Era, and the 200th overall Grand Slam event of the Open Era, and will take place from January 15 – 28, on the all-blue courts of Melbourne Park in beautiful Melbourne.
Like the other slams, the tournament will consist of both men’s and women’s singles and doubles draws as well as a mixed doubles event. There will be singles and doubles events for both boys and girls (players under 18), which are part of the Grade A category of tournaments, and also singles, doubles and quad events for men’s and women’s wheelchair tennis players as part of the NEC tour under the Grand Slam category. (If you’ve never seen wheelchair tennis, you don’t know what you’re missing. Talk about talent…I could never chase down and hit a tennis ball while in a wheelchair!)
And get this…the winners of this year’s Australian Open will take home the largest purse ever, up 10% from last year! The hike comes from the yearly agreement where all 4 Grand Slams Prize money must be increased.
|STAGES||Mens Singles||Women Singls||Mens Doubles||Women Doubles||Mixed Doubles||Other Events|
The Nomadic History
How the Australian Open got where it is today.
The first Australian Open (then called the Australasian Championships) was a grass court tournament, taking place in 1905 on the Warehouseman’s Cricket Grounds (now the Albert Reserve Tennis Centre) in Melbourne. And unlike today’s tournament, only men were allowed to compete (in single’s tennis.)
In 1906, the venue changed to Christchurch, New Zealand, followed by several jumps between Brisbane, Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, and Hastings, New Zealand. Back in Sydney at White City Stadium in 1922, the tournament finally allowed women, and in 1924 it was designated as major championship. While Sydney hosted the tournament 17 times and Adelaide 14 times, by the 1970s it became clear that Melbourne was to be the home of the Australian Open.
As Melbourne native Gerald Patterson took home Wimbledon singles victories in 1919 and 1922, the interest in tennis began to grow, prompting the construction of a 17-acre site in a Melbourne suburb. The creation of 20 lawn courts, a clubhouse, and an 8,500-seat concrete stadium shaped the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club, which hosted its first Australian Championship in 1927.
The Kooyong grass courts began being used on the international stage as well, hosting a variety of Davis Cup ties. Then in 1972, it became the first permanent home for the Australian Open. The center court venue was the only stadium at the time, and with a desire by Tennis Australia to grow attendance of their tournament, plans started forming to create Melbourne Park (originally dubbed Flinders Park) as the new permanent home of the Open.
The Australian Open moved to its new and final location in 1988, with an entire plan of stadiums and courts designed by architect Peter Brook and firm Peddle Thorp Learmonth, according to information provided by Tennis Australia. During that first year, the new center welcomed over 266,000 fans, doubling the attendance the previous year at Kooyong. And because of the addition of the Vodaphone Arena and public areas, and several other modifications over the years, the Australian Open grew, setting a record attendance of nearly 730,000 peeps in 2017.
Though there was an attempted bid by New South Wales in 2008 to have the Australian Open moved at the end of its contract with Melbourne, commitments to expand and improve Melbourne Park have been approved, and so the tournament will remain there until at least 2036.
A Little Trivia
Some interesting bits and facts.
In case you were wondering (and I know you were!), here are some fun facts and various tidbits about the Australian Open you might not have heard before.
The Longest Grand Slam Rally EVER
Frenchmen Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils push each other to the limit during their match at the 2013 Australian Open, slugging it out over 71 strokes in one amazing rally.
For decades, the Australian Open was held in December, however, it was decided in 1986 to move the event to January. The timing of this decision meant that there was no tournament held in 1986.
On The Surface
Sweden’s Mats Wilander has the distinction of being the only player to win the Australian Open on both grass and hard courts.
The Australian Open is also known as the “Fans Slam” for its enthusiastic and friendly fans. The fans make a big party out of the event and it is highly recommended to attend it at least once in a lifetime if you are a tennis fan. (It’s TOTALLY on my tennis bucket list!) The atmosphere on the grounds of this event is electrifying, and if you don’t believe me, just check out this video…Australian Open fans ROCK!
Always a Bridesmaid…
Between 2010 and 2016, Andy Murray reached the final of the Australian five out the seven times, losing each time. All but one of these losses came at the hands of Novak Djokovic, with the other being a loss to Roger Federer.
Australia’s own Ken Rosewall has the unique honor of being both the youngest and the oldest men’s single’s player to win the Australian Open. He first took the title in 1953 when he was 18, but would go on to win it again in 1972 at the ripe old age (for a tennis player) of 37.
Though the tournament takes place on the other side of the world, the United States has enjoyed more success at the Australian Open than any other nation—including Australia! The United States has the most titles (men and women combined)…26 to be more precise, followed by Australia with 11, and Sweden with 5.
The Australian Open takes place during Australia’s peak summer month, and the temperatures which the competitors of the Australian Open must endure have been known to reach as high as 43.9 degrees Celsius, or 111 degrees Fahrenheit (though it’s usually not that high.) Because of this, they have an extreme heat policy which is supposed to keep players safe by stopping play or closing the court roofs when it’s too hot, but it is rarely implemented. Players and spectators alike usually just sweat it out.
I have yet to make it to the Australian Open, but I hope to do so within the next few years. It would be such a fun summer-y break from this freezing winter cold! Also, my sweet friend Danni lives there, and I know she would show us a good time :)
Have you been to the Aussie tournament down under? What did you enjoy about it the most? Is there anything I should know about before I go? Tell me about it in the comments below!
Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!…Oi! Oi! Oi!