The history of the Australian Open championship goes back to 1905. However, the event became internationally recognized only in 1969. Till that time professional players weren’t allowed to participate in it. Since 1988 it is played on hard courts, while prior to that time grass was the main kind of surface of the tournament.
During its history the tournament was held during winter holidays, which prevented many leading players from participating in it. As a result, the event was won by not the strongest players.
Since those times many things changed: the venue, the surface, the time of playing. And now the Australian Open is one of the most comfortable for players and attractive for spectators events of the year.
What are the most interesting things we want to recollect about it before the Australian Open 2017 kicks off?
From grass to hard courts
After the surface was changed from grass to hard in 1988, Rebound Ace was the official surface of the Australian Open. And it became the subject of many debates as the players complained that the surface got sticky with high Australian temperatures. It was injury hazard. In May 2007 the surface was replaced by Plexicushion, which is used to date. The surface belongs to the ITF Category 4 - Pace: Medium-Fast. In other words, it is technically of medium pace but is classified as fast. This surface is definitely faster than the previous one and lets the players of any tennis style comfortable perform on it.
The Aussie organizers went further and announced that in 2017 the tournament would be played on wood courts!
Surprised? Well, this was just the April Fools’ Day joke.
What do you associate the end of January with? Knitted socks and a pile of sweaters? Well, in Australia this is the period of record-breaking high temperatures. Hot desert winds make the situation even more difficult. It’s not a rare situation when the spectators get dizzy, say nothing about the players.
In 2014 the highs between 41.5°C (106.7°F) and 43.9°C (111°F) didn’t fall for 4 consecutive days. It caused the record number of first-round withdrawals (8 among male players and 1 by a female player). Frank Dancevic collapsed during his match against Benoit Paire. Considering all this, the Extreme Heat Policy was introduced. According to it, the match may be stopped if the players’ health and safety is under threat.
The longest and shortest matches
The shortest match wasn’t recorded. But it is logical to assume that this is one of the matches won with the score 6-0; 6-0; 6-0. All in all, there were 6 such matches but they were played when the tournament wasn’t professional. As for the longest match, it poses no questions. In 2012 Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal spent 5 hours 53 minutes. This became the longest Australian Open match ever.
The youngest and the oldest winners of the Australian Open
Ken Rosewall triumphed in Melbourne in 1953 when he was 18 years and 2 months old. In the Open Era Mats Wilander won the title at the age of 19 years and 3 months. Ken Rosewall also holds the record for the oldest champion, winning at age 37 in 1972.
Another record was set by Mark Edmondson. He won the 1976 Australian Open while ranked 212th in the world, still the lowest-ranked winner of a Grand Slam tournament since the ATP rankings were introduced. He is the last Australian to date to win the men's singles at the Australian Open.
Ken Rosewall and Mark Edmondson are the main heroes of Australia. But we hope the young guns (Tomic, Kyrgios, Kokkinakis) will change the situation for the better.
In 2002 Julien Boutter in a very tense semifinal match hit a very powerful forehand shot and killed a house martin that was flying that was chasing a moth across the Rod Laver Arena. And it wasn’t the first time when a bird was killed in a sporting event.
Beatles on courts is not a rare affair, but about the heron? In 2016 the Serbia’s Viktor Troicki and Munoz de la Nava watched the heron landing on the scoreboard. The match was halted for a while.
Such a huge event can’t go without incidents: in 2009 the nearly naked man ran out on the court and interrupted the doubles match between the Williams sisters and Morina/Muller. On the same day Djokovic’s and Delic’s supporters attacked each other with flagpoles and bottles.
In 2015 more than 700 000 fans attended the event smashing the previous record of 2012.
Another fact in numbers: for the entire history of the Australian Open 40.000 balls and 53 kilometers of string was used. Well, profitable industry creating many working places!
And finally another record set by the Aussie local: Marius Copil sent the fastest ever serve at the Australian Open in 2002: 242 km/h!
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