The Australian Open tennis tournament is traditionally the first tournament of the year in the Grand Slam series which also includes the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. Winning all four tournaments in one tennis season and achieving a complete Grand Slam is considered to be the highest achievement in professional tennis, although winning the individual tournaments is a great accolade. The tournament includes both men's and women's singles as well as mixed doubles and a junior's championship. Here we have put together some facts about the tournament that you may not be aware of. So when you are watching it, you can amaze your friends and family with some commentary and insight.
When and where it is played
In 2016 the Australian Open will be played in the last two weeks of January and since 1977 it has always been played in middle / end of January although the dates have varied. However, this has not always been the case. Whilst in 1919 it was played in January, the following year it took place in March and in the years that followed up to 1977, the month in which the tournament took place varied from year to year.
It has not always been straightforward, however, as in 1977 the tournament took place twice, in January and December while in 1986 it didn't take place at all because of the moving of dates from December to January. The 1987 Australian Open took place in January and has done so ever since.
The Australian Open takes place at Melbourne Park but this has not always been the case and in fact since it began in 1905 the tournament has been played in both Australia and New Zealand. Locations have included Christchurch, New Zealand and the Australian cities of Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide and Perth, as well as Melbourne where it now has a permanent home. This has been the case since 1972.
Impact of the weather conditions
This tournament takes place in the Australian summer which means that matches are sometimes played in extremely hot and humid conditions. In some daytime matches the temperature has reached over 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This is uncomfortable for both players and spectators. Umpires in this tournament have the power to suspend play if the temperature reaches a certain level while a retractable roof has been added to the venue in order to provide both players and spectators with some respite from the heat. The roof is also used when it is raining.
Interesting facts about the tournament itself
The Australian Open was first played in 1905 but it wasn't until 1969 that it became known as the Australian Open, having been known as the Australian Championship prior to that point. Due to the remote location of Australia in the context of the home locations of many international players, the tournament did not have any foreign players until 1946. In that year some players from the USA arrived by plane to play in the tournament whereafter it started to become more of the international championship that we know today.
From 2015 onwards the total prize money for the tournament has been increased to AUD$44m with the men's and women's singles winners taking approximately AUD$3.85m each making it one of the richest Grand Slams other than the US Open.
Although the Australian Open is well known as a tournament that is played on a hard court, this has not always been the case. From 1905 until 1987, when the month of the tournament became fixed in the tennis calendar, it was always played on grass. This was the year in which it switched to hard courts. There is only one player who has ever won the tournament on both grass and hard court, namely the Swede Mats Wilander.
Australian open winners
As the first of the four Grand Slam tournaments in the professional tennis calendar year, the Australian Open is considered to be one of the key events at which players can set their standard for the year. Most players have a preferred surface but some are capable of winning on hard court, grass or clay, although not necessarily all in the same season.
Winners of the Men's Singles title at the Australian Open have included Mats Wilander, Rod Laver, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer while winners of the Women's singles have included Steffi Graf, Martina Hingis and Serena Williams who has won the tournament five times. This is the most that one person has won the tournament since 1969.
The tournament is broadcast all over the world and watched by a huge global audience, making it one of the year's most popular sporting events.
Hopefully the above facts will add a new dimension to your enjoyment of the Australian Open.