For most people, the new year signals a time of new beginnings, yet for many tennis fans it also signals the start of the tennis season. Starting in January, all the greats gather for the first Grand Slam of the year; the Australian Open. Here are some incredible fun facts about the tournament that’ll make watching it even more awe-inspiring!
1. The Youngest In The Family
There are four grand slams total; the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open. The Australian Open happens to be the youngest of the four, having been established in 1905.
2. The Spirit Of Cricket
When the tournament was first held, it was played in a cricket field at the Warehouseman’s Cricket Ground in St Kilda Road, Melbourne. Today, that facility is known as the Albert Reserve Tennis Centre.
3. What’s In A Name…
Up until 1969, the tournament was named the Australian Championships. It wasn’t until 1969 that it finally changed to Australian Open.
4. The Show Must Go On
The longest match played at the Australian Open was in 2012. Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic played each other for five hours and 53 minutes before Djokovic finally defeated Nadal in the last set 7-5.
5. International Conflict
Due to international conflicts going on at the time, the tournament was not played between 1916 and 1918, or 1940, and 1945.
6. Aussie Aussie Aussie
The tournament hasn’t always been played in Melbourne. It has been held in 5 different cities: Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, and Perth. It was also held twice in New Zealand. Due to Melbourne attracting the biggest patronage, it finally moved to its new, permanent home at Flinders Park (now Melbourne Park) in 1988.
7. An International Affair
Because Australia was so much further than most of the other tennis tournaments, the Australian Open did not have foreign players when it first began. Players including Rod Laver, Margaret Smith and Roy Emerson finally flew to the tournament in the year 1946.
8. The Grass Is Always Greener
From its birth in 1905, up until 1987, the matches were played on grass courts, much like Wimbledon. In 1988 the made the switch to hard courts and it’s been like that ever since. Mats Wilander is the only player who has won the championship title on both the grass courts as well as on the hard courts.
9. The Competition’s Heating Up
The Australian Open is played at the peak of the Australian summer, so the biggest challenge for the players is the heat. Many players end up being put on intravenous drips in order to stay hydrated. In 1988, the Extreme Heat Policy was made which allows the referee to stop the game if the temperature reaches 40 degrees celsius.
10. Age Is But A Number
Ken Rosewall is both the oldest and youngest man to win the Australian Open. In 1953 he won the title at 18 years of age, and then in 1972 he won it again at age 37.
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