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Australian Open

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Background Information

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Australian Open
Australian Open logo.svg
Official website
Location Melbourne
Venue Melbourne Park
Surface Plexicushion Prestige
Men's draw 128S / 128Q / 64D
Women's draw 128S / 96Q / 64D
Prize money A$23,140,000 (2009)
Grand Slam

The Australian Open is the first of the four annual Grand Slam tennis tournaments – the other three are the French Open, US Open and Wimbledon. The tournament is held in the middle of the Australian summer, in the last fortnight of the month of January; thus an extreme-heat policy is put into play when temperatures reach dangerous levels. The tournament was held for the first time in 1905 and was last contested on grass in 1987. Since 1988, the tournament has been held on hard courts at Melbourne Park. Mats Wilander is the only player to win the tournament on both grass and hard courts.

The two main courts used in the tournament are Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena and feature retractable roofs, which are shut during rain or extreme heat. The Australian Open and Wimbledon are the only Grand Slam tournaments with indoor play. In 2008, the Rebound Ace surface, which had been in place for the past 20 years at Melbourne Park, was replaced by a cushioned, medium-paced, acrylic surface known as Plexicushion Prestige. Roger Federer and Serena Williams are the only players to win the Australian Open on both Rebound Ace and Plexicushion Prestige. The main benefits of the new surface are better consistency and less retention of heat because of a thinner top layer. This change was accompanied by changes in the surfaces of all lead-up tournaments to the Australian Open. The change was controversial because of the new surface's similarity to DecoTurf, the surface used by the US Open.

Like all other Grand Slam tournaments, there are men's and women's singles competitions; men's, women's, and mixed doubles; and junior's, wheelchair, exhibition, and legends' competitions. The singles winners in 2010 were Roger Federer and Serena Williams. In men's doubles, the winners were Bob and Mike Bryan, and in women's doubles, the winners were Serena and Venus Williams – the second time in history and the second consecutive year that both Australian Open doubles titles were won by siblings. In mixed doubles, the winners were Cara Black and Leander Paes.

The Australian Open typically has very high attendance, with the 2010 Australian Open achieving the highest ever single-day day/night attendance record for any Grand Slam tournament of 77,043 and an overall attendance of 653,860.


Inside Rod Laver arena, prior to an evening session.

The Australian Open is managed by Tennis Australia, formerly the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia (LTAA), and was first played at the Warehouseman's Cricket Ground in Melbourne in 1905. This facility is now known as Albert Reserve Tennis Centre.

The tournament was first known as the Australasian Championships and then became the Australian Championships, in 1927, and the Australian Open in 1969. Since 1905, the Australian Open has been staged in five Australian and two New Zealand cities as follows: Melbourne (54 times), Sydney (17 times), Adelaide (14 times), Brisbane (7 times), Perth (3 times), Christchurch (in 1906), and Hastings (in 1912). In 1972, when it was decided to stage the tournament in the same city each year, the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club was selected because Melbourne attracted the biggest patronage. Though started in 1905, the tournament was not designated as being a major championship until 1924, by the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF) in a 1923 meeting. The tournament committee changed the structure of the tournament to include seeding at that time.

Melbourne Park (formerly Flinders Park) was constructed for the 1988 tournament to meet the demands of a tournament that had outgrown Kooyong's capacity. The move to Melbourne Park was an immediate success, with a 90 percent increase in attendance in 1988 (266,436) on the previous year at Kooyong (140,000).

Because of its geographic remoteness very few foreign players entered this tournament at the beginning. In the 1920s, the trip by ship from Europe to Australia took about 45 days. The first tennis players who came by aircraft were the US Davis Cup players in November 1946. Even inside the country, many players could not travel easily. When the tournament was held in Perth, no one from Victoria or New South Wales crossed by train, a distance of about 3,000 kilometres (1,900 mi) between the east and west coasts. In Christchurch in 1906, of a small field of 10 players, only two Australians attended, and the tournament was won by a New Zealander.

Margaret Court Arena at the Australian Open with the old Rebound Ace surface. Rod Laver Arena, the centre court, in the background.

The first tournaments of the Australasian Championships suffered from the competition of the other Australasian tournaments. Before 1905, all Australian States and New Zealand had their own championships, the first organised in 1880 in Melbourne and called the Championship of the Colony of Victoria (later the Championship of Victoria). In those years, the best two players - the Australian Norman Brookes (whose name is now written on the men's singles cup) and the New Zealander Anthony Wilding - almost did not play this tournament. Brookes came once and won in 1911, and Wilding entered and won the competition twice (1906 and 1909). Their meetings in the Victorian Championships (or at Wimbledon) helped to determine the best Australasian players. Even when the Australasian Championships were held in Hastings, New Zealand, in 1912, Wilding, though three times Wimbledon champion, did not come back to his home country. It was a recurring problem for all players of the era. Brookes went to Europe only three times, where he reached the Wimbledon Challenge Round once and then won Wimbledon twice. Thus, many players had never played the Austral(as)ian amateur or open championships: the Renshaws, the Dohertys, William Larned, Maurice McLoughlin, Beals Wright, Bill Johnston, Bill Tilden, René Lacoste, Henri Cochet, Bobby Riggs, Jack Kramer, Ted Schroeder, Pancho Gonzales, Budge Patty, Manuel Santana, Jan Kodeš and others, while Brookes, Ellsworth Vines, Jaroslav Drobný, Manuel Orantes, Ilie Năstase at 35 years old, and Björn Borg came just once.

Beginning in 1969, when the first Australian Open was held on the Milton Courts at Brisbane, the tournament was open to all players, including professionals who were not allowed to play the traditional circuit. Nevertheless, except for the 1969 and 1971 tournaments, many of the best players missed this championship until 1982, because of the remoteness, the inconvenient dates (around Christmas and New Year's Day), and the low prize money. In 1970, the National Tennis League, which employed Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall, Andrés Gimeno, Pancho Gonzales, Roy Emerson, and Fred Stolle, prevented its players from entering the tournament because the guarantees were insufficient, and the tournament was ultimately won by Arthur Ashe.

In 1983, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe, and Mats Wilander entered the tournament. Wilander won the singles title and both his Davis Cup singles rubbers in the Swedish loss to Australia at Kooyong shortly after. Following the 1983 Australian Open, the International Tennis Federation prompted the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia to change the site of the tournament, because the Kooyong stadium was then inappropriate to serve such a big event, and in 1988 the tournament was first held at Flinders Park (later renamed Melbourne Park) on Rebound Ace.

Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne Park, Melbourne. The main location of play.

Before the Melbourne Park stadium era, tournament dates fluctuated as well, in particular in the early years because of the climate of each site or exceptional events. For example, the 1919 tournament was held in January 1920 (the 1920 tournament was played in March) and the 1923 tournament in Brisbane took place in August when the weather was not too hot and wet. After a first 1977 tournament was held in December 1976 – January 1977, the organisers chose to move the next tournament forward a few days, then a second 1977 tournament was played (ended on 31 December), but this failed to attract the best players. From 1982 to 1985, the tournament was played in mid-December. Then it was decided to move the next tournament to mid-January (January 1987), which meant there was no tournament in 1986. Since 1987, the Australian Open date has not changed. However, some top players, including Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, have said that the tournament is held too soon after the Christmas and New Year holidays, thus preventing players from reaching their best form, and expressed a desire to shift it to February.

Another change of venue was proposed in 2008, with New South Wales authorities making clear their desire to bid for hosting rights to the tournament once Melbourne's contract expires in 2016. The proposed relocation is to Glebe Island in Sydney. In response, Wayne Kayler-Thomson, the head of the Victorian Events Industry Council, was adamant that Melbourne should retain the event, and, in a scathing attack of the New South Wales authorities, said, "It is disappointing that NSW cannot be original and seek their own events instead of trying to cannibalize other Australian cities." Since the proposal was made, a major redevelopment of Melbourne Park has been announced, which is expected to run into the hundreds of millions of dollars. Melbourne Park will include upgraded and increased seating in major venues, a roof over Margaret Court Arena, improved player facilities, a new headquarters for Tennis Australia, and a partly covered "town square" area featuring large televisions showing current tennis play. A year later, these plans were largely approved, with former Premier of Victoria John Brumby confirming the state government's willingness to commit AU$363 million to complete the renovations, a move which guaranteed there will be no change of venue until at least beyond 2036.

Television coverage

In the United States, the Australian Open is the only Grand Slam that is not covered on network television. In 2010, both live and taped coverage were televised on ESPN and Tennis Channel. The championship match was seen on ESPN2. In Australia, Seven Network covers the complete tournament. BBC covers the event in the United Kingdom. Throughout the rest of the world, the tournament can be seen on Eurosport. The Australian Open is the least televised Grand Slam because of the large difference of time of Europe and North America from Australia.

Recent attendances

Panorama of Margaret Court Arena during the 2008 Australian Open.
  • 2010 – 653,860
  • 2009 – 603,160
  • 2008 – 605,735
  • 2007 – 554,858
  • 2006 – 550,550
  • 2005 – 543,873
  • 2004 – 521,691

Trophies and prize money

Names of the winners are inscribed on the perpetual trophy Cups.

  • The women's singles winner is presented with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup.
  • The men's singles winner is presented with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.

In 2010, the prize money awarded in the men's and women's singles tournaments will be equal and distributed as follows:

  • 1st Round: A$19,500
  • 2nd Round: A$31,500
  • 3rd Round: A$52,000
  • 4th Round: A$89,000
  • Quarterfinalists: A$200,000
  • Semifinalists: A$400,000
  • Runners-up: A$1,050,000
  • Winners: A$2,100,000 (approx GBP£1,163,700; approx EUR€1,339,100; approx US$2,105,000)


Main articles listed by event:

  • Men's Singles
  • Women's Singles
  • Men's Doubles
  • Women's Doubles
  • Mixed Doubles
  • Singles Finals

Current champions

Event Champion Runner-up Score
2010 Men's Singles Switzerland Roger Federer United Kingdom Andy Murray 6–3, 6–4, 7–6(11)
2010 Women's Singles United States Serena Williams Belgium Justine Henin 6–4, 3–6, 6–2
2010 Men's Doubles United States Bob Bryan
United States Mike Bryan
Canada Daniel Nestor
Serbia Nenad Zimonjić
6–3, 6–7(5), 6–3
2010 Women's Doubles United States Serena Williams
United States Venus Williams
Zimbabwe Cara Black
United States Liezel Huber
6–4, 6–3
2010 Mixed Doubles Zimbabwe Cara Black
India Leander Paes
Russia Ekaterina Makarova
Czech Republic Jaroslav Levinský
7–5, 6–3


Unlike the other three Grand Slam tournaments, which became open in 1968, the Australian tournament opened to professionals in 1969. Thus, the records here break at the 1969 tournament. Citations for these records.

Record Open Era* Player(s) Count Years
Men since 1905
Winner of most
Men's Singles titles
Before 1969: Australia Roy Emerson 6 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967
After 1968: United States Andre Agassi
Switzerland Roger Federer
4 1995, 2000, 2001, 2003
2004, 2006, 2007, 2010
Winner of most
Men's Singles titles
Before 1969: Australia Roy Emerson 5 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967
After 1968: Australia Ken Rosewall
Argentina Guillermo Vilas
South Africa Johan Kriek
Sweden Mats Wilander
Sweden Stefan Edberg
Czechoslovakia Ivan Lendl
United States Jim Courier
United States Andre Agassi
Switzerland Roger Federer
2 1971, 1972
1978, 1979
1981, 1982
1983, 1984
1985, 1987
1989, 1990
1992, 1993
2000, 2001
2006, 2007
Winner of most
Men's Doubles titles
Before 1969: Australia Adrian Quist 10 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950
After 1968: Australia Mark Edmondson
United States Bob Bryan
United States Mike Bryan
4 1980, 1981, 1983, 1984
2006, 2007, 2009, 2010
2006, 2007, 2009, 2010
Winner of most
Men's Doubles titles
Before 1969: Australia Adrian Quist 10 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950
After 1968: Australia Mark Edmondson
Australia Kim Warwick
United States Rick Leach
United States Jim Pugh
France Fabrice Santoro
France Michaël Llodra
United States Bob Bryan
United States Mike Bryan
2 1980, 1981; 1983, 1984
1980, 1981
1988, 1989
1988, 1989
2003, 2004
2003, 2004
2006, 2007; 2009, 2010
2006, 2007; 2009, 2010
Winner of most
Mixed Doubles titles -
Before 1969: Australia Harry Hopman
Australia Colin Long
4 1930, 1936, 1937, 1939
1940, 1946, 1947, 1948
After 1968: United States Jim Pugh 3 1988, 1989, 1990
Winner of most
Championships (total:
singles, men's doubles,
mixed doubles) - Men
Before 1969: Australia Adrian Quist 13 1936-1950 (3 singles, 10 men's doubles, 0 mixed doubles)
After 1968: Australia Mark Edmondson
United States Jim Pugh
United States Rick Leach
5 1976-1984 (1 singles, 4 men's doubles)
1988-1990 (2 men's doubles, 3 mixed doubles)
1988-2000 (3 men's doubles, 2 mixed doubles)
Women since 1922
Winner of most
Women's Singles titles
Before 1969: Australia Margaret Court 7 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966
After 1968: United States Serena Williams 5 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010
Winner of most
Women's Singles titles
Before 1969: Australia Margaret Court 7 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966
After 1968: Australia Margaret Court
Australia Evonne Goolagong Cawley
Germany Steffi Graf
Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia/Federal Republic of Yugoslavia/United States Monica Seles
Switzerland Martina Hingis
3 1969, 1970, 1971
1974, 1975, 1976
1988, 1989, 1990
1991, 1992, 1993
1997, 1998, 1999
Winner of most
Women's Doubles titles
Before 1969: Australia Thelma Coyne Long 12 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1956, 1958
After 1968: United States Martina Navrátilová 8 1980, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989
Winner of most consecutive
Women's Doubles titles
Before 1969: Australia Thelma Coyne Long
Australia Nancye Wynne Bolton
5 1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940
1936, 1937, 1938, 1939, 1940
After 1968: United States Martina Navrátilová
United States Pam Shriver
7 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989
1982, 1983, 1984, 1985, 1987, 1988, 1989
Winner of most
Mixed Doubles titles -
Before 1969: Australia Daphne Akhurst Cozens
Australia Nell Hall Hopman
Australia Nancye Wynne Bolton
Australia Thelma Coyne Long
4 1924, 1925, 1928, 1929
1930, 1936, 1937, 1939
1940, 1946, 1947, 1948
1951, 1952, 1954, 1955
After 1968: Czechoslovakia Jana Novotná
Latvia Larisa Savchenko Neiland
2 1988, 1989
1994, 1996
Winner of most
Championships (total:
singles, women's doubles,
mixed doubles) - Women
Before 1969: Australia Nancye Wynne Bolton 20 1936-1952 (6 singles, 10 women's doubles, 4 mixed doubles)
After 1968: United States Martina Navrátilová 12 1980-2003 (3 singles, 8 women's doubles, 1 mixed doubles)
Youngest winner Men's singles: Australia Ken Rosewall 18 years and 2 months (1953)
Men's doubles: Australia Lew Hoad 18 years and 2 months (1953)
Women's doubles: Croatia Mirjana Lučić 15 years and 10 months (1998)
Women's singles: Switzerland Martina Hingis 16 years and 4 months (1997)
Oldest winner Men's singles: Australia Ken Rosewall 37 years and 8 months (1972)
Men's doubles: Australia Norman Brookes 46 years and 2 months (1924)
Women's doubles: Australia Thelma Coyne Long 37 years and 7 months (1956)
Women's singles: Australia Thelma Coyne Long 35 years and 8 months (1954)
Mixed doubles (men): Australia Horace Rice 52 years (1923)
Mixed doubles (women): United States Martina Navratilova 46 years and 3 months (2003)
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