Australian Open is one of the four major tournaments that are collectively known as “Grand Slam” in tennis – the other events being the French Open, the US Open and the Wimbledon. It is the first grand slam event of the season and takes place in the hot weather conditions during the time when mid-year breaks are on for students (Australia has its summer season from December to February). Around half a million people attend the tournament each year. This year’s event will be the 102nd edition of the Australian Open and will be held at the Melbourne Park. Last year Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka captured the men’s and women’s singles title respectively. Only time will tell who this year’s winners will be. Tennis fans across the world will be glued to their television screens to watch their favorite players battle for the supreme title. Let’s have a look at few facts about the Australian Open which will definitely test your trivia.
The first ever event was held in the year 1905 but it was called Australasian Championships back then. Then in the year 1927, it took the name Australian Championships before finally being branded as the Australian Open in the year 1969. The tournament is held in Melbourne ever since 1972. Before this the event took place at different venues in Australia and New Zealand which are listed as follows:
- Melbourne – 55 times
- Sydney – 17 times
- Adelaide – 14 times
- Brisbane – 7 times
- Perth – 3 times
- Christchurch, New Zealand in 1906
- Hastings, New Zealand in 1912
The tournament has been operated and managed by Tennis Australia (previously the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia) since the beginning.
Due to remote geographical location of Australia the tournament fought for attention during the early years. The biggest battle that it faced was to attract foreign players. Lack of modes of transport even hampered the participation of domestic players hailing from different cities. It was only in 1946 when the Davis Cup players from US came to participate by an aircraft. As years passed, the transport system improved and by the 1960s Australian tennis players started dominating the world with their sheer talent.
The major hurdle that the event faced was its timing (just after New Year) and lack of money which led to many top class players to decline the participation. But this did not stop the organizers in developing their own talent base.
Overcoming all the problems, the Australian Open was slowly garnering fame and recognition. As time passed even the stadium fell short in accommodating the audience members. Then the event was shifted to a different venue next to the Melbourne Cricket Ground called Flinder’s Park. This brand new venue slowly became everyone’s favorite due to its impressive hard court surface and seating arrangements for audiences. After that the organizers never looked back as they had finally succeeded in gaining attention of the best tennis players and even more importantly the die-hard tennis fans.
The tournament is played in extensively hot conditions in the middle of summer season in Australia. Temperature reaches above 40 degree Celsius which leads to very harsh playing conditions. The players have to prepare themselves beforehand in order to confront the soaring temperatures in the court.
Due to weather conditions the governing authority had to introduce Extreme Heat Policy (EHP). By using this policy game umpires can abandon a match if they think that the temperature is extremely high. Many stadiums have even added retractable roofs in an attempt to fight the extreme weather.
Moreover the tennis balls have also been noted to shrink and expand because of the warm weather which leads to different reactions when they hit the ground and when they hit the racquets.
During this year’s event Frank Dancevic of Canadian origin collapsed during his first round match against Benoit Paire of France as the temperature rose to about 43 degree Celsius on Jan 14, 2014.
To ensure the pleasant stay of fans and players coming from across the world the organizers of the event put in all their strength to make the tournament grand. While the tennis stars battle for glory within the circuit, there a constant hoopla ensured off the stadium. The entire city is given a festival like feeling numerous music concerts and live acts at various places. There is no compromise in portraying the Australian love of outdoors. The sporting event is blended with numerous cultural and social activities to add the much necessary fun element. People witness staggering acts along with the top tennis players fighting for the prestigious Australian Open title. Moreover even if the tickets are sold out or if somebody is unable to purchase them the fans can still watch the live match at the Melbourne’s Federation Square where all the matches are broadcasted for free on a gigantic screen.
Australian Open has an affluent history of featuring world class players and heart wrenching matches. We have seen several legends fulfilling their dreams in this tournament while many dreams shattered as well. To sum it all here’s a list of few of the record makers in the more than a century long tournament.
Just for your knowledge – Closed era refers to the time when only domestic players participated while open era refers to the time when the tournament was made open to all professional players across the world.
Men – Ken Rosewall (age 18)
Women – Martina Hingis (age 16)
Women – Thelma Long (age 35)
Doubles (Men) – Norman Brookes (age 46)
Doubles (Women) – Thelma Long (age 39)
Most successive singles wins
Roy Emerson – 5(1963-1967)
Margaret Court – 7(1960-1966)
Most singles titles (Overall)
Closed Era – Roy Emerson(6 titles)
Open era – Tie between Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic (4 titles)
Closed Era- Margaret Court(11 titles)
Open Era – Serena Williams (5 titles)
- More than 40,000 Wilson balls are used for the tournament every year.
- It is estimated that more than 1,60,000 units of ice cream and 35,000 units of barbeque sausages are sold each year.
- Over 300 ball girls and ball boys are hired for the event each year.
- Each year fans in excess of half a million travel from different places to witness the event. Spectator history:
2012 – 686,006
2011 – 651,127
2010 – 653,860
2009 – 603,160
2008 – 605,735
2007 – 554,858
2006 – 550,550
2005 – 543,873
2004 – 521,691