It’s that time of the year again when all the tennis fans out there eagerly await the start of the first Grand Slam, the Australian Open, rooting for their favorite players to clinch it.
Here are some interesting facts about the first Grand Slam of the year.
First Match Was Played at a Cricket Ground
Surprised? You might as well be. The first match of the Australian Open, then known as the Australian Championship, was played at the Warehouseman’s Cricket Ground in 1905. Rodney Heath defeated fellow Australian Arthur Curtis in four sets to claim the inaugural title. The venue hosted the Australasian Championships under the auspices of the MCC and later the Lawn Tennis Association of Victoria a total of four times: in 1905, 1911, 1914 and 1924 – as well as the 1908 and 1912 Davis Cup finals, before Kooyong became the primary venue for lawn tennis in Melbourne.
Only Grand Slam to be played in different Country and Cities
The Australian Open is indeed one such mega tennis event that has been played in different countries with 1906 and 1912 tournaments being played in New Zealand. Also, the tournament was held at several cities in Australia – Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth. It was not until 1987 that it was decided that the tournament will be held only in Melbourne.
Change of Surface
The Australian Open was initially played on a grass court. The trend continued from 1905 to 1987, until hard courts were introduced instead of grass ones. Mats Wilander holds the record of being the only player who has won the championship title on both grass court as well as on the hard court.
Another change took place in 2009 when the hard court surface was replaced by the rebound ace surface which is a mixture of asphalt and sand.
January is actually the summer season in Australia. The conditions are pretty tough, specially for the players hailing from European Countries. The mercury can rise up to 45 degree Celsius which is well above 100 degrees in Fahrenheit.
The players have said things like– it felt like they were playing tennis in a sauna, or on a frying pan that sizzled their soles.
At the present time, this grand slam makes use of EHP or Extreme Heat Policy under which umpires can suspend any given tennis match when the temperature reaches very high. In order to cope up with the heat, many retractable roofs have been constructed and provide some relief to both players as well as the spectators.