Australian Open - Federer vs Tsgona

Australian Open Major Tennis Tournament

The Australian Open is the youngest Grand Slam, established in 1905. It’s the first tennis major on the international calendar, known for its trademark blue GreenSet hard court surface. Held in Melbourne Park since 1988, the Australian Open is nicknamed the “Happy Slam” for its laid-back atmosphere and emphasis on fun for players, fans and everyone in between.

It’s by far the most significant of all the Australian tennis majors, with a vast 812,000 capacity across the Melbourne-based complex. This makes the competition one of the biggest sporting events across the whole Southern hemisphere. Australians dominated proceedings in the early 1900s, mainly due to the difficulty experienced by early superstars such as Rene Lacoste travelling to the remote Pacific country. 

Novak Djokovic is arguably the greatest men’s singles player in Australian Open history, winning it an outrageous nine times and counting. The Serbian couldn’t compete in the 2022 edition due to a lack of vaccination, but early signs are suggesting he’ll be allowed into the country in 2023. The hard surface is perfect for Djokovic’s outstanding all-round game. Defeating the likes of Rafael Nadal and Nick Kyrgios won’t be easy, but the nine-time winner is no average player. 

Margaret Court is the most successful women’s singles player of all time, lifting the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup 11 times between 1960 and 1973. It’s the most dominant spell of any player at a Grand Slam, putting modern achievements from the likes of Roger Federer into context. 

The Australian Open is an incredibly important part of the Victorian economy, contributing almost $400m each year. The competition has created approximately 2,000 jobs over the past decade, cementing its legacy as a fundamental part of the sporting calendar and the wider Melbourne area. 

Stay with us as we take a deeper look at one of the world’s most prestigious tennis events. We’ll explore the Australian Open’s history, basic information, famous players from over the years and more. 

The Australian Open: A basic round-up 

The 2022 Australian Open was the 110th edition, with the competition first being launched in 1905. Originally played on grass courts, Tennis Australia moved to hard courts in 1988. The decision made the Australian Open and the US Open hardcourt majors bookending either side of the Grand Slam calendar. 

Melbourne Park opens its gates to hundreds of thousands of spectators every January. The tournament lasts two weeks, with the last weekend coinciding with the Australia Day national holiday. Attendance records are commonly the largest of all the Grand Slams, with close to a million fans enjoying the action each year. 

Set across 44 acres, the site is slightly smaller than the US Open-hosting UCTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Nevertheless, Melbourne Park typically has more spectators, with three flagship stadiums seating upwards of 30,000. 

The Rod Laver Arena is the biggest, holding 14,820 fans. It opened in 1988 to great fanfare and coincided with the switch to a hard playing surface. The stadium also features a retractable roof to mitigate any rain or extreme heat delays. It’s named after the legendary Australian men’s singles player who won the most singles titles in the sport’s history. 

The second-largest Melbourne Park venue opened in 2000. Often dubbed “the People’s Court” due to its cheap ticket prices and accessibility, the John Cain Arena has a maximum capacity of 11,000. It was originally called the Melbourne Arena, but the name was changed in 2022 to honour the 41st State Premier of Victoria, who was instrumental in keeping the Australian Open in Melbourne during the 1980s. 

The Margaret Court Arena is the third-largest venue at the tournament. It opened at the same time as the Rod Laver Arena in 1988, albeit with a reduced capacity of 6,000. Renovation work added a retractable roof and an additional 1,500 seats in 2015, enhancing the arena’s robustness and ability to deal with weather-related breaks in play. 

The Australian Open uses standard Grand Slam rules, featuring men’s singles, women’s singles, men’s doubles, women’s doubles, mixed doubles, junior championships, wheelchair and legends competitions. Almost 1,000 players from around the world descend on Melbourne Park for each iteration, making it one of the largest competitions on the tour. 

Who won the 2022 Australian Open? 

Reigning champion Novak Djokovic’s absence from the 2022 men’s singles draw provided other players with an added incentive to make it count. Daniil Medvedev certainly fancied his chances, aiming for a second consecutive Grand Slam victory after defeating Djokovic at the US Open. 

Unfortunately for the Russian, a certain Spaniard called Rafael Nadal had other ideas. The ferocious player is known for his inextinguishable determination, something he called on repeatedly during the five-hour epic. By the end, Nadal had lifted his 21st Grand Slam title, and Medvedev was left wondering how he could have done anything more. 

The Australian Ashleigh Barty tasted success on the women’s singles side, lifting her third Grand Slam title and first on home soil. The diminutive and intelligent player shocked the world by retiring straight after her final triumph, citing a lack of motivation after achieving her wildest childhood desire. 

Two more Australians lifted honours at the 2022 Australian Open. Fan favourites Thanasi Kokkinakis and Nick Kyrgios blew the competition away in the men’s doubles, becoming the first wildcard champions of the Open era and the first Australian pair to taste success since 1997. Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova won the women’s doubles, the first of three Grand Slam triumphs in 2022. 

Australian Open: A brief history 

The Australian Open has a colourful and action-packed history, with dozens of venues playing home to the tournament since its 1905 launch. The 1906 and 1912 editions took place in New Zealand, but since then, it has been exclusively Australian. The early days were notable for frequent location changes, with five cities hosting the competition in the inaugural few decades. 

It took the Australian Open until 1924 to be awarded Grand Slam status. While it was commonly known as the largest of the Australian tennis majors before then, this decision greatly elevated its status. Legendary players such as Daphne Akhurst enjoyed considerable success during the 1920s, winning five women’s singles titles in a row between 1925 and 1930. 

The Australian Open continued growing despite the lack of international players in the early 20th century. The organisers decided to allow professional players to compete in 1969, sparking the modern Open era. This proved to be a catalyst for a new Australian tennis golden age, with players such as Rod Laver and Margaret Court winning an incredibly impressive number of titles. 

Australia Tennis decided to move the competition to Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club in 1972, mainly because of the strong audience attendance in the Victoria capital compared to elsewhere. The tournament remained here until 1987 when it moved to its current Melbourne Park home, which was originally known as Flinders Park. It was also the last Australian Open to be held on grass, with 140,000 fans giving the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club an appropriate send-off.

Several technological upgrades occurred in the early 21st century, with Melbourne Park becoming the first tennis complex to contain two retractable roof stadiums. A multimillion-dollar investment project announced in 2010 further enhanced the Australian Open’s amenities, facilities and venues. With annual attendance forecast to exceed a million over the next few years, the sky’s the limit for the world-famous tennis celebration. 

Men’s and women’s singles winners since 2000 

Novak Djokovic is by far the most successful Australian Open player over the last two decades. During the Serbian’s first Grand Slam in 2008, he lifted the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup. He went on to defend the title an astonishing eight times since, proving to be utterly unstoppable on the blue hardcourt surface. You can find a complete list of men’s and women’s singles champions since 2000 below: 

Australian Open Men’s singles champions since 2000:

  • Andre Agassi (3x) 
  • Thomas Johansson 
  • Roger Federer (7x) 
  • Marat Safin 
  • Novak Djokovic (9x) 
  • Rafael Nadal (2x) 
  • Stan Wawrinka 

Australian Open Women’s singles champions since 2000:

  • Lindsay Davenport 
  • Jennifer Capriati (2x) 
  • Serena Williams (7x) 
  • Justine Henin 
  • Amelie Mauresmo 
  • Maria Sharapova 
  • Kim Clijsters 
  • Victoria Azarenka (2x) 
  • Li Na 
  • Angelique Kerber 
  • Caroline Wozniacki 
  • Naomi Osaka (2x) 
  • Sofia Kenin 
  • Ashleigh Barty 

 

On the men’s side, the Australian Open is notable for having a small number of different winners in recent years compared to other Grand Slams. The hard court surface generally makes it harder for outsiders to upset the main competitors, but this certainly doesn’t reduce the excitement. The Australian Open has hosted some of the best tennis games of all time, with the Nadal vs Medvedev final being the most recent. 

The best players in Australian Open history 

Tennis fans in Australia have been blessed with countless renowned players over the last century or so. The examples below are tennis athletes who have historically stood head and shoulders above the rest: 

 

Novak Djokovic 

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer were playing at such an extraordinarily high level in the late 2000s that nobody could imagine anyone else coming remotely close to topping their vice on the ATP Tour. But then along came Novak Djokovic, a Serbian tennis-playing phenomenon with one of the strongest all-round games the sport has ever seen. 

Known for arguably the greatest return in history, he has won nine Australian Open titles, and nobody would bet against him picking up a few more before retirement. The competition will always hold a special place in Djovokic’s heart, being his career-first Grand Slam triumph. 

Margaret Court 

Few names are as synonymous with the Australian Open as Margaret Court. She has the most Grand Slam titles of any player, male or female, with a remarkable 24 to her name. Court won 11 Australian Open titles, a record that’s showing no signs of being broken any time soon. 

Playing on the professional circuit from 1960 to 1977, the Australian was known for her aggressive and athletic playing style. Her renowned rivalry with Billie Jean King also marked her as a historically important player. 

Rod Laver 

Rod Laver is the only player to win a calendar Grand Slam twice. He won all four Grand Slams in 1962 and 1969, proving his unrivalled dominance at the beginning of the Open era. Laver lifted the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup three times on home turf, but his most successful Grand Slam was at Wimbledon. 

Often regarded as a technically faultless player, the Australian didn’t let his small stature stop him from generating substantial power and predominantly hitting from the baseline. His adventurous playing style is an early precursor to the flair shown by players such as Nick Kyrgios. 

Serena Williams 

Undeniably one of the greatest women’s players of all time, Serena Williams has lifted the Australian Open trophy seven times in her illustrious career. Only a few years shy of having a three-decade-long playing career, Williams was instrumental in shining a more significant light on the women’s game. 

She was dominant during the 1990s and 2000s together with her sister Venus. Both players brought a new level of power to the women’s game, known for blistering forehands and sledgehammer first serves. 

Marcos Baghdatis 

Although Marcos Badhgatis never actually won the Australian Open, the Cypriot was one of the most affable fan favourites in the tournament’s history. Seemingly unable to play without a huge grin on his face, he was a 2006 finalist, ultimately losing out to Roger Federer. 

Watching Baghdatis play tennis was infectious. He received huge crowd support from Melbourne’s Greek-Cypriot community, going down as an immensely popular face at the competition. 

About the other three Grand Slams 

The Australian Open kicks off the Grand Slam calendar in January. After players are finished at Melbourne Park, they compete in the following three Grand Slams: 

The Australian Open is the most isolated Grand Slam timewise, with Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open all taking place over the space of four months. 

The Australian Open 2023: What’s next? 

The 2023 Australia Open has already been boosted by the expected return of Novak Djokovic after his visa ban was overturned. All eyes will be on the men’s draw as new superstars such as Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud contest with the old guard. 

Attendance is set to increase as the looming spectre of Covid-19 finally seems to have dissipated. Tennis fans worldwide cannot wait to experience the competition in all its glory without any restrictions.