About Australian Open Tennis Championships
Out of four Grand Slam tournaments, the Australian Open Tennis Championships is the only Grand Slam to be held in the beginning of the year (January). For all those millions watching the nail biting match between Novak Djokovic and the top seed Roger Federer, could not but help cheer the valiant Serb in his fight against a master.
The fact that Novak won in straight sets and went on to win the Australian Open Tennis championship 2008 is the stuff fairy tales are made of. The Australian Open threw up another anomaly of an unseeded unknown player brushing past heavyweights to reach the finals. Jo-Wilfred Tsonga drew critical acclaim when he reached the finals and created a record of sorts.
Also christened as the Asian Grand Slam, the Australian Open Tennis is an annual event held in Melbourne, Australia. Attended by most men and women champions the event lays the mood for the other Grand Slam events.
A century ago, precisely in 1904, six Australian State Tennis associations coalesced with the governing body of Tennis based in New Zealand into the Lawn Tennis Association of Australasia. The first Tennis Championship event was held a year later at the Albert Reserve, Melbourne on the lawn of the Warehouseman’s Cricket Club.
A game on a borrowed lawn heralded the future Grand Slam of Asia. The finalist Dr Arthur Curtis and Rodney Heath played before 5000 spectators. This was the beginning of a major Grand Slam event that has run a course of a century and still going strong.
In 1906, the Australian Open Tennis tournament shifted to Christchurch, New Zealand, reverted back to Australia and in 1912 was the final time the event was held in New Zealand. Australia and New Zealand parted ways in 1922, which also was the year the Women Championships were introduced. The finalists in the first ever women championships were Margaret Molesworth and Esna Boyd. The Australian Open Tennis tournament has since then been played in Australia with different cities sharing the honor of hosting the Championships.
The Championships were temporarily stopped during the World Wars. The Tournament was named the Australian Championship in1927, later in the year 1969 the tournament was renamed Australian Open Tennis Championship as professionals and amateurs both, played in the Championships. In the year 1971, White City, Sydney hosted the Open for the last time. Ken Roswell and Margaret Court, both Australians won the singles titles. The Kooyang Tennis Club became the home of the Australian open in 1982.
The eighties decade bought important changes in the Australian Open; it was deemed a Grand Slam event and allotted a permanent time frame in January. In the year 1987, the last Open was played on grass where Stefan Edberg claimed the singles title defeating Pat Cash in a grueling match. 1988, was the year the Australian Open shifted to its permanent home at Flinders Park, Melbourne.
Melbourne Park is now the permanent venue of the Australian Open Tennis grand slam, though other events do take place throughout the year, the venue is totally identified with tennis. The Melbourne Park has two stadia, the Rod Laver arena and the refurbished Vodafone arena.
The Rod Laver arena, named after Australian’s tennis legend, formerly known as Centre Court, boasts of Match Court 1 and 2 with a seating capacity of 9000, 13 outside match courts, and 5 indoor practice courts. A major revamp doubled the size of Melbourne Park, adding 2 new show courts, 8 new match courts. A central lawn area, Garden Square, was also incorporated in the Park and houses a huge screen which broadcasts live matches.
The newly completed Vodafone Arena has a seating capacity of 10,000 and also food courts, merchandise shops and beverage outlets.
All tennis surfaces were Rebound Ace, which is a cushioned tennis hard court surface. In 2008 the tennis court surfaces were replaced with a cushioned, acrylic, rollout, the Plexicushion. The new surface sports a lower rubber content which promotes greater foot grip, the surface retains less heat adheres to the current ITF standards
Both stadia are equipped with retractable roofs, given the peak summer conditions during which the event is held. The retractable roof comprises of two rolling sections each spanning the court with the by now the well known arched trusses. The retractable roof takes around 30 minutes to open or close and during intense heat periods the roof is closed.
Melbourne Park has its own Tram stop (route 70) and is within walking distance from Richmond, Flinder’s Park and Jolimont railway stations.
The Australian Open, the Grand Slam of Asia, is also known as the Happy Slam, is today one of the greatest tennis events on the world Grand Slam calendar as well as in Australia’s sporting calendar.