Drawing some of the world’s top tennis players down under, the Australian Open is the first gran slam tournament of the season. Held in the second week of January each year at Melbourne Park. We’ve write some interesting facts about Wimbledon and the US Open, and so we thought it was about time to give you some fascinating Australian Open facts!
1. The first Australian Open
Initially known as Australian Championship and first held in 1905 on Warehouseman’s Cricket Ground. The name was changed in 1969 to Australian Open and has been called it ever since!
2. Not so Australian
Unlike Wimbledon, which has been held on the same site since begin, the first few tournaments were played across several cities in Australia. New Zealand got in the act and hosted matches in 1906 and 1912. Since 1987 the tournament has be held in Melbourne.
3. Global Players
Due to its distant geographical location, the Australian Open did not have foreign players until 1946 when several US players came by plane.
4. From Grass to Hard
Originally, the Australian Open used grass tennis courts. However, this changed in 1998 and has since been played on hard courts. Mats Wilander holds the record for winning a championship title on both grass and hard surfaced courts.
5. Flexi Time
Before 1977, the date wasn’t fixed and was held at a random point each year. For example, 1920 it was held in March, and in August in 1923. Since 1977, the timing has been settled as the middle of January every year. It is also interesting to note that in 1977, two Australian Open events took place. The first was held in January, with the second taking place later that year in December. The only exception was in 1986, where due to multiple reasons, the Australian Open was not held.
6. The youngest male winner
Ken Rosewall is the youngest winner to win the championship at the age of 18. His victory in 1953, against compatriot Mervyn Rose has stood the test of time.
7. While the youngest female winner
Martina Hingis is the youngest woman to win the game at the age of 16. in 1997, she beat former champion Mary Pierce.
8. The oldest winners
Ken Rosewall aged 37, was the oldest Men’s singles winner. For the Women’s singles, Thelma Long, aged 35. Thelma was also the oldest Women’s doubles a few years later, at age 39. As for the Men’s doubles, Norman Brookes at the grand old age of 46!
9. Playing Conditions
While to us Brits, January might seen a bit of an odd time to hold a tennis championships, Australia is actually in the summer season. This means that temperature can rise up to 45 degree Celsius, which is over 100 degrees in Fahrenheit. Matches are therefore subject to an EHP or Extreme Heat Policy under which umpires can suspend any given tennis match when the temperature becomes too hot.
10. BBG (ball boys and girls)
Like Wimbledon, the championship uses around 300 ball boys and girls each year.
11. 40K balls
Each tournament used over 40,000 tennis balls!
12. Record Prizes
Total prize money for 2017 is a record $50 million AUD (about 36 million USD), a 14% increase from 2016.
13. Longest match
Rafael Nadal won the longest ever tennis match in 2009 against Fernando Verdasco.
14. Most successive singles wins
Roy Emerson, who competed between 1963 and 1976 took home 5 titles over this period. Whereas Margaret Court, won 7 titles over her career, which lasted from 1960 1966.
156. Held on two courts
Played across two main tennis courts known as the Hisense Arena and the Rod Laver Arena.
Bonus point! Just under 5000 racquets are used and over 57 kilometres of string is used to restring them!