The Australian Open is the first of the four grand slams in the tennis year calendar. As the excitement builds for a fresh new year in tennis we gear up for the Australian Open!
This tournament is always held in the final two weeks of January and was first held back in 1905. The highly anticipated 2013 event begins on January 14 and concludes on 27 January. Most of the finals are held on Saturday 26th, but the mixed double’s (3PM) and the men’s singles (7PM) finals are both held on Sunday 27th – the final day of the tournament.
The title Australian Open is not there to fool anyone, the annual tournament is held in Australia. More specifically, it takes place in Melbourne. Melbourne Park is the venue where the world’s top tennis stars will battle it out for the first grand slam of the year. 2013 will be the competition’s 26th year at Melbourne Park, watch the video below that celebrated their 25th anniversary last year.
What’s the format?
In the men’s singles, there are 128 competitors. They consist of 108 direct enteries, 12 qualifiers and a total of 8 wildcards. The women’s event uses the same format, whereas both the doubles events have 7 wildcards in the 64 pairs. Just 32 pairs, including 7 wildcards, compete in the mixed doubles event. In the men and women’s singles, the draw is slit into 8 different sections, for the first, second, third and fourth round. Each section has 16 players, the fourth round will be when the two best players from each knock out section compete – with the winner going through to the quarter finals to take on the winner of another section.
All the household names will be in action, apart from one injury-stricken Spanaird. Rafael Nadal will not be able to compete at the prized event due to a stomach virus he picked up after recovering from a knee problem that kept him out of action for months. Here’s what Nadal had to say after dissapointing many fans: ‘My knee is coming along okay, but a stomach virus has left me unable to get ready in time to tackle the rigours of a grand slam. Because of the virus, I have been unable to get any match practice and simply would not be doing myself or my friends in Australia justice if I went down there so unprepared. You need your body to be at its best for the Australian Open. It was a difficult decision and I am extremely disappointed to be missing such a great event. I love coming to Melbourne and playing on Rod Laver Arena before the Australian crowds. It hurts to have to wait another 12 months before I get another chance. The focus is now on desperately trying to get back on the tour.’
The last grand slam of 2012 was of course won by Andy Murray, who will this year be looking to win his first Melbourne major after losing two finals in 2010 and 2011. The Olympic medalist retained the Brisbane Open final (watch highlights below) in preparation for the Australian Open, could that give him the momentum to win big in Melbourne? Well, Murray has voiced that he feels much less pressure going into this grand slam having won his first in last year’s US Open: ‘In the last three, four or five years there has been significant pressure in my mind, and now I feel more relaxed and relieved after winning the US Open. So, I think from my side, I hope to take the pressure off myself and be able to play a little bit more relaxed – and I hope to repeat my grand slam win. I don’t know how I will feel going into the first round of the Australian Open, so it will be a new feeling for me and I just have to deal with it.’
What’s the wage?
As you can see from the table above, there’s more money to play for this year.
Who’s the most successful player?
The tournament’s best player ever, in terms of titles won, is Australian Roy Emerson. It was Emerson’s home event and triumphed an incredible 6 times, inclding 5 successive years from 1963 to 1967. Emerson is now 76-years old so in the more modern tennis era Roger Federer and Andre Agassi have been two of the best to grace the courts (watch them compete below in an exciting 2005 quarter-final), both winning the competition 4 times. Agassi has now been retired tennis professional for 6 years, making Swiss genius Federer the most successful player to be involved this year. Novak Dojokovic, who will compete for glory at this year’s event, has won the Australian Open 3 times and will this year look to equal Federer’s 4 wins.
What happened last time?
The 2012 event was the 100th Australian Open. As the tournament progressed, it became clear that it would be a very tightly fought grand slam. World number one Novak Djokovic came through a tough five set semi-final, at the expense of Andy Murray, meanhwile Rafael Nadal beat Roger Federer. The two tightly matched semi-finals set up a delightful, and highly competitive final. At 5 hours and 53 minutes, the longest ever grand slam final in the open era, five set final was won by Serb Novak Dojokovic. It beat the previous record longest grand slam final, a match between Mats Wilander and Ivan Lendl, by around one hour!