The first Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open is the most awaited tennis tournament, commencing in the second week of January every year. A site where numerous records have bitten the dust and yet others have been set, it has its fair share of interesting and fascinating facts. Let’s take a look at a few of them.
The Australian Open was first held in 1905. It was known to as the Australasian Championship until 1927. The name changed to Australian Championships and finally Australian Open in 1969. It is the youngest of all the four Grand Slams, the oldest being Wimbledon (1877) followed by US Open (1881) and French Open (1891). It is also the first Grand Slam tournament to feature retractable roofs in three of its courts during extreme heat or wet weather.
Quite remarkably, the youngest as well as the oldest player ever to win Australian Open, in 1953 and 1972 is Ken Rosewall. He was aged 18 and 37 respectively.
Among female players, Martina Hingis holds the honour of being the youngest (she won at the age of 16). Thelma Coyne Long is the oldest female player (aged 35).
Initially, the Australian Open was played on grass. But, starting 1988, the surface shifted from grass to hard courts. Green Rebound Ace was used up till 2007 eventually getting replaced by blue Plexicushion. Mats Wilander holds the record for being the only player to win the title on both grass (1983 & 1984) and hard court (1988).
The blazing conditions in Australia pose a challenge to players every year. The temperature can go as high as 40 degree Celsius (105 degree Fahrenheit) and the players are forced to make use of braided ice towels. From 1988, Extreme Heat Policy came into picture wherein the match can be halted upon the referee’s decision if the temperature crosses the threshold barrier. As of 2015, the threshold temperature was 40 degree Celsius.
The tournament was played in January till 1919 and shifted to March in 1920. It again changed to August during 1923-1976.
But, due to a change in schedule caused by climatic fluctuations, Australian Open was played twice in 1977. It was played at the start of January and mid of December.
It was played during mid-December till 1985. But, it was decided to shift the next tournament to mid-January as the time failed to have the presence of top players. This meant the tournament wasn’t played at all in 1986! The next match down under was held in January 1987.
6. Longest Match
Longest known Australian Open match in Open Era history was played between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal in the final of 2012. It lasted 5 hours 53 minutes. Djokovic emerged as the winner beating Nadal 5-7, 6-4, 6- 2, 6-7, 7-5.
7. Prize Money
The total prize money for the opening grand slam of 2018 is AUD $55 million dollars with a $4 million prize for the men’s and women’s singles champion. This is a 10% increase as compared to 2017.