The Australian Open is one of the highlights of the tennis calendar and one of the four majors. Winning the tournament will allow players to go down in folk law in the sport and whilst it’s probably fair to say not quite as prestigious as Wimbledon or the US Open, having a win in the Australian heat is definitely something to savour.
The tournament is not only very important because it’s a major, but it’s the first major of the year. There is a sizeable break between the last major, the US Open and the Australian, which usually takes place in January though will be held in February in 2020. Often players will be using this period to solely concentrate on this event, meaning it gets plenty of interest and focus.
It’s held at Melbourne Park, Melbourne and is played on the hard courts there. Interestingly, up until 1987, the tournament was actually played on grass, but switched in an attempt to get a more consistent playing surface, mainly down to the extreme heats that can be on offer.
Australian Open Recent Winners
|Year||Men's Winner||Men's Runner-Up||Women's Winner||Women's Runner-Up|
|2021||Novak Djokovic||Daniil Medvedev||Naomi Osaka||Jennifer Brady|
|2020||Novak Djokovic||Dominic Thiem||Sofia Kenin||Garbine Muguruza|
|2019||Novak Djokovic||Rafael Nadal||Naomi Osaka||Petra Kvitova|
|2018||Roger Federer||Marin Cilic||Caroline Wozniacki||Simona Halep|
|2017||Roger Federer||Rafael Nadal||Serena Williams||Venus Williams|
|2016||Novak Djokovic||Andy Murray||Angelique Kerber||Serena Williams|
|2015||Novak Djokovic||Andy Murray||Serena Williams||Maria Sharapova|
|2014||Stan Wawrinka||Rafael Nadal||Li Na||Dominika Cibulkova|
|2013||Novak Djokovic||Andy Murray||Victoria Azarenka||Li Na|
|2012||Novak Djokovic||Rafael Nadal||Victoria Azarenka||Maria Sharapova|
About the Australian Open
As the Australian Open is exactly that, an ‘Open’ essentially anyone can qualify to play in the event. Providing that you are able to make it through the qualifying rounds then you are eligible to play.
But, for most of the formats there will be a limited number of spots on offer. For the men’s game for example, there are 128 places in total, with the top 104 in the world rankings being guaranteed entry into the tournament.
8 more selections are made up of wild card entries. As the host of the tournament, the Australian internal selection committee get to pick 4 of those, with the French also getting one pick. Wild card entries into qualifying events are also reserved in this section, where 3 more players who have won their respected tournament, based on geographic loction are entered also.
On top of that 16 players will qualify for the event via any of the qualification tournaments held around the world.
Titles on Offer
The beauty of the Australian Open is that there are hundreds of games to watch throughout the fortnight of the event. They have a huge variety of competitions on offer, that include men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, mixed doubles, boy’s and girl’s singles, boy’s and girl’s doubles, men’s and women’s wheelchair, wheelchair quad singles, men’s and women’s wheelchair doubles and wheelchair quad doubles.
The world rankings play a huge role in the draw. The top 2 ranked players in the world are kept at opposite ends of the draw, which means that should they both win all of their matches, they would be set to meet each other in the final. The draw is broken down into 8 sections and with each section will be a player ranked from 1-8, then 9-16, then 17-24 and 25-32. The rest of the players will be then drawn randomly within each group, meaning wild cards and qualifiers are then mixed.
Men’s Singles Draw 2021: Top Half
|Seed||Player||Theoretical Round Meeting|
|1||Novak Djokovic||3rd Round||4th Round||Quarter-finals||Semi-finals|
|17||Stan Wawrinka||3rd Round|
|10||Gael Monfils||3rd Round||4th Round|
|32||Adrian Mannarino||3rd Round|
|3||Dominic Thiem||3rd Round||4th Round||Quarter-finals|
|18||Grigor Dimitrov||3rd Round|
|15||Pablo Carreno Busta|
|11||Denis Shapovalov||3rd Round||4th Round|
|25||Benoit Paire||3rd Round|
Men’s Singles Draw 2021: Bottom Half
|Seed||Player||Theoretical Round Meeting|
|7||Andrey Rublev||3rd Round||4th Round||Quarter-finals||Semi-finals|
|24||Casper Ruud||3rd Round|
|12||Roberto Bautista Agut|
|13||David Goffin||3rd Round||4th Round|
|28||Filip Krajinovic||3rd Round|
|5||Stefanos Tsitsipas||3rd Round||4th Round||Quarter-finals|
|19||Karen Khachanov||3rd Round|
|16||Fabio Fognini||3rd Round||4th Round|
|21||Alex de Minaur|
|30||Daniel Evans||3rd Round|
Women’s Singles Draw 2021: Top Half
|Seed||Player||Theoretical Round Meeting|
|1||Ashleigh Barty||3rd Round||4th Round||Quarter-finals||Semi-finals|
|21||Anett Kontaveit||3rd Round|
|11||Belinda Bencic||3rd Round||4th Round|
|25||Karolina Muchova||3rd Round|
|4||Sofia Kenin||3rd Round||4th Round||Quarter-finals|
|22||Jennifer Brady||3rd Round|
|12||Victoria Azarenka||3rd Round||4th Round|
|26||Yulia Putintseva||3rd Round|
Women’s Singles Draw 2021: Bottom Half
|Seed||Player||Theoretical Round Meeting|
|8||Bianca Andreescu||3rd Round||4th Round||Quarter-finals||Semi-finals|
|19||Marketa Vondrousova||3rd Round|
|14||Garbine Muguruza||3rd Round||4th Round|
|27||Ons Jabeur||3rd Round|
|7||Aryna Sabalenka||3rd Round||4th Round||Quarter-finals|
|24||Alison Riske||3rd Round|
|15||Iga Swiatek||3rd Round||4th Round|
|32||Veronika Kudermetova||3rd Round|
The draw has been designed like this to give the best players a reward for being a higher ranking. Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean they will have easier games to play but on paper it is meant to give them an easier run in.
With so many games on offer, it may come as little surprise to see that there are 20 courts in total within Melbourne Park, often attracting crowds of over 750,000 over the course of the 2 weeks. In fact, the Australian Open is the highest attended major of the year, although it’s often very closely run with the US Open in terms of visitor numbers.
The majority of the courts are smaller offerings, but there are three that are classed as the main courts within the complex. These are the Rod Laver Arena, Hisense Arena and the Margaret Court Arena. The biggest of the three is that of the Rod Laver, which holds 14,820. The second, and newest of the three, is that of the Hisense Arena with 10,500 capacity and the third is the Margaret Court, with 7,500. All three courts have retractable roofs, which can be used in the unlikely event that it rains, or if the temperatures get too hot.
As you would expect, the finals are held at the Rod Laver Arena, as it’s here where the highest capacity is found.
The prize money has been a hot topic of debate within the game of tennis, mainly because of the movement towards having equal pay for both the men’s and the women’s games. In total, there is a prize fund of A$80 million (Australian Dollars) on offer, which get split up between all of the events.
The winner of the singles will get A$2.75 million and the runner up will get A$1.5 million. For the doubles the winners get A$600,000 per team and the runners up A$340,000 per team. The mixed doubles is A$150,000 and A$85,000 respectively per team. Below is a chart showing of prize money for the 2021 men’s and women’s singles tournaments shown in British Pounds.
To give you an idea of the money involved, it was only announced in 2012 that the record amount of prizemoney in tennis would be at the Australian Open, with A$26 million on offer. By 2021 this amount has more than trebled and looks set to keep rising.
The scoring system in a match follows the usual sets of rules, in terms of 15, 30, 40 and deuce. But, in terms of games it works a little different to most tour events. The men’s games, for example, is played as best of 5 sets. In the first 4 sets of the match a player must get to 6/7 games before their opponents and to win by 2 clear games. If the result is tied at 6 games, then they will play in a tie break to decide the winner of that set. This means they will be playing in points with the first to 7 points winning the play-off match. This also must be won by 2 clear points.
The final set of the match must also be won by two clear games. From 2019, there will be a final set tie break where games reach 6-6, though 10 points are required to win. Again this must also be by two clear points.
The women’s works in much the same way, but games are played as best of 3 sets. Regular tie breaks will occur in sets 1 and 2, with the 3rd and final set again needing to be won by 2 clear legs or a 10 point tie break.
The Australian Open only became a professional event in 1969, much like the other 3 majors. So, the records, as a result, are often separated between pre and post this date. The modern-day records are often used when refereeing to most winners etc. but, bear in mind that there are other winners before these dates, of which any major ones we will mention.
The most successful men’s player in modern times is that of Novak Djokovic, who’s won the Australian on 8 different occasions. It’s a pretty incredible feat when you think of it as he’s done it in an era where three of the best of all time (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray) have all be in circulation. Roy Emerson of Australia has also won the Open on 6 times as well, all of his wins coming in the 1960’s, with 5 coming consecutively from 1963 to 1967.
Men’s Singles Finals: 2011 – 2020
|2020||Novak Djokovic||Dominic Thiem||6-4, 4-6, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4|
|2019||Novak Djokovic||Rafael Nadal||6-3, 6-2, 6-3|
|2018||Roger Federer||Marin Cilic||6-2, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1|
|2017||Roger Federer||Rafael Nadal||6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3|
|2016||Novak Djokovic||Andy Murray||6-1, 7-5, 7-6|
|2015||Novak Djokovic||Andy Murray||7-6, 6-7, 6-3, 6-0|
|2014||Stan Wawrinka||Rafael Nadal||6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3|
|2013||Novak Djokovic||Andy Murray||6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-2|
|2012||Novak Djokovic||Rafael Nadal||5-7, 6-4, 6-2, 6-7, 7-5|
|2011||Novak Djokovic||Andy Murray||6-4, 6-2, 6-3|
On the women’s side a similar sort of story is painted with the names two of the most iconic of all time in women’s tennis. First off from the modern era you have Serena Williams winning on 7 different occasions. Williams has publicly stated that the Australian hasn’t always been her strongest surface, so to win 7 times on a surface you don’t like is nothing short of incredible.
The other name is that of Margaret Court. You may have noticed that earlier in the article we mentioned that a court was named after her (no pun intended), The reason behind this that she won the women’s single titles 11 times, from 1960 to 1973. It’s also impressive to see that she did it after the switch from amateur to professional in 1969 as well.
Women’s Singles Finals: 2011 – 2020
|2020||Sofia Kenin||Garbine Muguruza||4-6, 6-2, 6-2|
|2019||Naomi Osaka||Petra Kvitova||7-6, 5-7, 6-4|
|2018||Caroline Wozniacki||Simona Halep||7-6, 3-6, 6-4|
|2017||Serena Williams||Venus Williams||6-4, 6-4|
|2016||Angelique Kerber||Serena Williams||6-4, 3-6, 6-4|
|2015||Serena Williams||Maria Sharapova||6-3, 7-6|
|2014||Li Na||Dominika Cibulkova||7-6, 6-0|
|2013||Victoria Azarenka||Li Na||4-6, 6-4, 6-3|
|2012||Victoria Azarenka||Maria Sharapova||6-3, 6-0|
|2011||Kim Clijsters||Li Na||3-6, 6-3, 6-3|
In terms of the doubles, on the men’s side the winner is that of brothers, Rob and Mike Bryan. The pair have become the most decorated doubles players of all time and the Australian was a coup they managed to achieve on 6 different occasions from 2006 to 2013.
Men’s Doubles Finals: 2011 – 2020
|2020||R Ram & J Salisbury||M Purcell & L Saville||6-4, 6-2|
|2019||P-H Herbert & N Mahut||H Kontinen & J Peers||6-4, 7-6|
|2018||O Marach & M Pavic||J S Cabal & R Farah||6-4, 6-4|
|2017||H Kontinen & J Peers||B Bryan & M Bryan||7-5, 7-5|
|2016||J Murray & B Soares||D Nestor & R Stepanek||2-6, 6-4, 7-5|
|2015||S Bolelli & F Fognini||P-H Herbert & N Mahut||6-4, 6-4|
|2014||L Kubot & R Lindstedt||E Butorac & R Klaasen||6-3, 6-3|
|2013||M Bryan & B Bryan||R Haase & I Sijsling||6-3, 6-4|
|2012||L Paes & R Stepanek||M Bryan & B Bryan||7-6, 6-2|
|2011||M Bryan & B Bryan||M Bhupathi & L Paes||6-3, 6-4|
On the women’s side of things, legend Martina Navratilova has been able to lift the title 8 times from 1980 to 1989. Her playing partner for much of that was Pam Shiver, picking up 7 of those wins all in a row from 1982 to 1989.
Women’s Doubles Finals: 2011 – 2020
|2020||T Babos & K Mladenovic||H Su-wei & B Strycova||6-2, 6-1|
|2019||S Stosur & Z Shuai||T Babos & K Mladenovic||6-3, 6-4|
|2018||T Babos & K Mladenovic||E Makarova & E Vesnina||6-4, 6-3|
|2017||B Mattek-Sands & L Safarova||A Hlavackova & P Shuai||6-7, 6-3, 6-3|
|2016||M Hingis & S Mirza||A Hlavackova & L Hradecka||7-6, 6-3|
|2015||B Mattek-Sands & L Safarova||C Yung-jan & Z Jie||6-4, 7-6|
|2014||S Errani & R Vinci||E Makarova & E Vesnina||6-4, 3-6, 7-5|
|2013||S Errani & R Vinci||A Barty & C Dellacqua||6-2, 3-6, 6-2|
|2012||S Kuznetsova & V Zvonareva||S Errani & R Vinci||5-7, 6-4, 6-3|
|2011||G Dulko & F Pennetta||V Azarenka & M Kirilenko||2-6, 7-5, 6-1|
The Australian Open has been running since 1905, which makes it one of the oldest tennis tournaments in the world. But, the tournament wasn’t called the Australian Open until 1969 when the event first went professional, moving away from amateur scene.
It was first known as the Australasian Championship before then becoming the Australian Championships in 1927. It wasn’t notified as one of the majors until 1927 and throughout the majority of the early years was run by the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia, before switching to hard courts in 1989.
The tournament has been hosted in a number of cities within that time before finding it’s home in Melbourne. These have included Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Christchurch and Hastings. But, because of the crowds that Melbourne pulled in over the other cities it was decided that this would become the home of the tournament.
The switch to Melbourne was one that saw almost immediate success. They enjoyed crowds of over 250,000 in 1988, up over 50% from the previous year. As the remoteness of Australia in the early 20th century meant that many players from overseas didn’t take part in the event, it wasn’t until the 1940’s that players from abroad came to play, most notably the US Davis Cup team. These days accessibility is much easier and so, like all tennis tournaments, players and even fans flock to the event from around the world.
Attendances at the Australian Open have seen steady increases, almost year on year from the switch in 1988 to Melbourne. They now boast over 700,000 fans each year throughout the 2 weeks, a number that is only rivalled by that of the US Open.
Rod Laver and Margaret Court
We’ve spoken about these names briefly throughout this article, mainly down to the naming of certain courts within Melbourne Park, but it was both Laver and Court that were able to really put Australian tennis on the map.
Rob Laver has managed to win 11 grand slam titles, making him one of the most successful men’s tennis players of all time. He won the Australian Open on 3 occasions and was the first winner of the event after it switched from an amateur to professional status in 1969.
His success was highlighted by the fact that he managed to earn over $1.5 million in prize money throughout a long career spanning through to 1977, when he later retired. His aggressive play was typical of the Australian sporting mentality and was a massive influence for the next and future generations of the sport.
Margaret Court was even more successful than Laver throughout her career and the two were pinned as the top tennis players in their respected fields for a generation. Court won a staggering 24 major titles and was only the second women to have completed the Grand Slam, winning all four majors in the same year in 1970.
But, what’s just as impressive as her singles record is her doubles record, winning another 19 major titles throughout her career. Combined, no women or man has won more titles than Court, even to this day.
Their success has been highlighted by Tennis Australia, naming two of the show courts that take centre stage for the tournament after them.
Djokovic is going to go down as one of the greatest tennis players of all time. But, his dominance within the modern era at the Australian Open has laid way to his latest success. He’s won the tournament on 8 different occasions, and we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him add to this number in the coming years.
The hard-hitting Serbian won the first of his titles in the 2008 final, beating Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. In fact, of the 8 finals he’s been a part of at the Australian Open he’s managed to life the trophy on each occasion.
His most memorable battles and probably biggest rivalry at the courts throughout this time has come in the form of Scotsman, Andy Murray. Djokovic has beaten Murray 5 times from his 7 finals, with some marathon games thrown in for good measure. The closest and most memorable has to have been that of the 2013 final, where Murray went 1 set up, before Djokovic won the second on a tie break. At this point the game could have gone in any direction, but Djokovic stepped up to play some unbelievable tennis and win the game 3 sets to 1.
For what it’s worth, Murray was a beaten finalist at the Australian Open in 5 out of 7 finals between 2010 and 2016.
Many people rank Serena Williams as the greatest female tennis player of all time. The 23 major titles certainly stand her amongst the elite, with 7 of those wins coming at the Australian Open, her joint most successful major alongside Wimbledon.
She has over 70 career titles to her name at the time of writing and looks set to add more to that in the years to come. She’s been able to hold all 4 Grand Slam title in a calendar year on 2 separate occasions, tying the record with Rod Laver and Steffi Graff. She sits just 1 major title behind that of Margaret court in the all-time list, but is the most successful in the Open era.
Whilst the numbers are all very impressive, her most impressive victory had to have been that of the 2017 Australian Open where she beat her sister, Venus Williams 6-4, 6-4. Another win yes, but the fact that Serena did it whilst she was pregnant is almost mind-boggling, and highlights just how tough she is both physically and mentally.