The Australian Open is the first of the tennis grand slam events in any year. It falls during the third and forth weeks of January at the height of the Southern Hemisphere Summer. It currently resides in Melbourne Park, Melbourne with its True Blue Plexicushion surface, however up until 1987 the tournament was actually played on grass at Kooyong.
The Aussie Open has a totally different and unique atmosphere than the other three slams. Its relaxed surroundings and less formal setting have earned it the nickname the Happy Slam. As with the other big events, Melbourne Park boasts fantastic arenas for playing and watching tennis. The Centre Court is named after the great Rod Laver, calendar grandslam winner in the 1960s. The second court is called the HiSense Arena and has been used as in the World Swimming Championships and Rock concerts. Both these courts have retractable roofs but not for the rian. An Australian Summer regularly sees temperatures top 40′, when they do play is suspended and the roofs are brought into action of the main courts. The other big show court is the Margaret Court Arena, a smaller, humbler court than the other two monstrocities.
There are 128 players in each of the singles draws, so the winner must succesfully navigate through 7 rounds to call themselves the Australian Open Champion. The Australians have been waiting for years to have a home grown champion. Lleyton Hewitt, Pat Rafter and Pat Cash have come close but some would say that newly crowned US Open Champion Sam Stosur could lift the hoodoo. Other champions have included Serena Williams, Amelie Mauresmo, Roger Federer and Marat Safin.
With it being the beginning of the year, most players can be a little rusty and not on form we tend to see a surprise unfancied player make the latter stages of the tournament. The Aussies affectionately call these players ‘Bolters’, the biggest bolter of late was Jo Willie Tsonga who beat Rafael Nadal to make the final in 2008. No doubt there will be a few bolters this year especially in the womens draw.
Stay tuned to LOVEtennis Blog, we will reviewing the mens and ladies draws and getting out experts to make some predictions ahead of this magnificent event. Already the qualies have thrown up a fantastic first round match as LTB Favourite Laura Robson takes on American Darling Melanie Oudin!