The sky-blue courts of Melbourne Park are set to enthrall the tennis audiences all over the world when the Australian Open commences on Monday. The first Grand Slam of 2016 promises to be an absolute cracker with the likes of World No.1 Novak Djokovic, plus the likes of Roger Federer, Stan Wawrinka, Rafa Nadal and Andy Murray all hungry for honours at the 104th edition of the event.
Djokovic will be looking to join Aussie great Roy Emerson as a six-time winner down under. Here, Sport360 looks into all the stats and numbers from the Australian Open.
1905 – The first edition was held in 1905 in Melbourne. The Australian Open is the youngest of the four majors, with Wimbledon the oldest (it began in 1877).
55 – The tournament has been staged 55 times in Melbourne; other host cities include Sydney (17), Adelaide (14), Brisbane (7), Perth (3), and even the New Zealand cities of Christchurch (in 1906), and Hastings (in 1912).
5 – Novak Djokovic is the Open Era leader with 5 titles (2008, 2011-13, 2015). Andre Agassi (1995, 2000-01, 03) and Roger Federer (2004, 2006-07, 2009) are second in line with 4 titles.
5 – Swedish Legend Stefan Edberg (2-3), Roger Federer (4-1) and Novak Djokovic (5-0) have all played an Open Era record five Australian Open finals.
3 – Consecutive Australian Open titles won by Djokovic (2011-2013), the Open Era record. The Serb is undefeated in finals (a perfect 5-0 record).
3 – Consecutive Australian Open finals played by Mats Wilander (1983-85), Ivan Lendl (1989-91) and Novak Djokovic (2011-2013).
11 – Semi-final appearances for Roger Federer (2004-2014), the Open Era record. Roger (5-6 in SF) also holds the record of 11 consecutive semi-finals down under.
11 – Quarter-final appearances for Roger Federer (2004-2014), the Open Era Record. Roger (11-0) also holds the record of 11 consecutive quarter-finals.
75 – Roger Federer (75-12) holds the record for the most match wins at the Australian Open. Stefan Edberg (56) and Novak Djokovic (50) are the only other players to have recorded 50 match wins at the Australian Open in the Open Era (to date).
90.57% – American Legend Andre Agassi has the best winning percentage at the Australian Open. Djokovic (50-6, 89.29%) and Federer (75-12, 86.21%) are next in line (for minimum 30 wins).
26 – Consecutive matches won by Agassi (2000-04 – he didn’t participate in 2002), the best winning streak in the down-under. Djokovic registered a 25 match streak from 2011-14.
30 – Consecutive sets won by Federer from 2006-08. Agassi won 27 consecutive sets in 2003-04.
71.60% – Andre Agassi won 71.6% of his games in 2003 (121-48), the best game winning % at a single edition down under.
1971 – Ken Rosewall became the first man in the Open Era to win a Major without dropping a set in 1971. Federer was the second and last man to achieve this feat in the Australian Open when he won in 2007.
2 – Reigning men’s champions have lost in the first round of the Australian Open. Roscoe Tanner lost to Chris Lewis in December 1977 and Boris Becker was knocked out by Carlos Moya in 1997.
51 – Swede Joachim Johansson hit 51 aces against Andre Agassi in a fourth round match at the 2005 Australian Open, the most aces in a single match. Ironically, Johansson actually lost the match in four sets.
4 – Runners-up finishes for Andy Murray, the Open Era record. World No2 Andy is 0-4 in Australian Open Finals (2010 to Federer; 2011, 13, 15 to Djokovic).
15 years 11 months – At the 1997 Australian Open, Lleyton Hewitt became the youngest qualifier.
20 – Lleyton Hewitt will be playing in his 20th consecutive Open in Melbourne (1997-2016), the record for most appearances and consecutive appearances.
19y 3m 19d – Swede Mats Wilander is the youngest Australian Open singles champion in the Open Era (1983).
37y 2m 1d – Aussie great Ken Rosewall is the oldest Australian Open singles champion ever (1972). Rosewall was also the youngest ever champion when he won the 1953 Australian Championships aged 18y 2m 11d (as an amateur).
All Time (The Championships)
27 – Consecutive matches won by Roy Emerson (1963-69, DNP 1968), the best winning streak ever. He lost to the “Rocket” Rod Laver in the 1962 final before bowing out to Laver in the 1969 round of 16.
34 – Consecutive sets won by Emerson in 1964-65, the best ever streak for consecutive sets won.
6 – Australian Championships won by Roy Emerson (1961, 1963-67), the most championships won in the history of the event.
5 – Consecutive championships won by Roy Emerson (1963-67), the all-time record.
7 – Finals played by Emerson (1961-67), John Bromwich (1937-39, 1946-49) and Jack Crawford (1931-36, 1940), the all-time record for most finals down-under. Emerson also played in a record seven consecutive finals in Melbourne (1961-67).
5 – Runners-up finishes for John Bromwich, the all-time record (2-5 in Finals).
21 – Editions played by Australians’ Harry Hopman and Jack Crawford, the most appearances at the Australian Open.
THE BIG NUMBERS DOWN UNDER
5h 53minutes – The War of Attrition between Nadal and Djokovic in the 2012 Final is the longest match ever at the Australian Open. The match is also the longest Grand Slam final ever.
5h 14minutes – The Nadal vs Fernando Verdasco marathon in the 2009 semi-final is the second longest match at the Australian Open.
23 – Agassi’s 6-2 6-2 6-1 rout of German Rainer Schuettler in the 2003 final is the shortest Australian Open Final in the Open Era (in terms of games).
1998 – The last time an all-left-handed final happened down-under – Czech Petr Korda defeated Chilean Marcelo Rios in the decider.
129 – Russian Marat Safin lost 129 games en route to the 2004 final (to Federer), the most games lost on the way to a Grand Slam final in the Open Era.
3 – Men who have won the Australian Open after saving a match point in the final – 1960 Rod Laver defeated Neale Fraser, 1947 Dinny Pails defeated John Bromwich and 1927 Gerald Patterson defeated John Hawkes.
50 – Australians have won the Australian Open Men’s Singles title (44 – Amateur Era, 6 – Open Era). An Australian last won the title in 1976 – Mark Edmondson.
14 – Americans have won the Australian Open Men’s Singles title. Agassi was the last American to win the title in 2003 (1981/82 champ Johan Kriek was born in South Africa but became a United States citizen in 1982).
1 – Stefan Edberg is the only player in the Open Era to win the Boys Singles (1983) and the Men’s Singles (1985) titles.
3 – Djokovic and Murray have played each other in a record three Australian Open Finals (2011, 2013, 2015). Djokovic was victorious on all occasions.
0-2 – Roy Emerson was the last man to win the Australian Open men’s final from two sets to love down (in 1965 he defeated Fred Stolle).
51 – Men have reached the finals in the 47 editions of the event.
AUD$44m – Total Prize Money for the 2016 Edition, an AUD$4m increase from 2015.
AUD$3.8m – Prize Money for the singles winner at the 2016 tournament.
212 – Mark Edmondson’s ranking when he won the title in 1976, the lowest ranked player ever to win a Grand Slam (since ATP Rankings were introduced in 1973).
403 – American Steve Denton is the lowest-ranked finalist.
While Roger Federer’s impeccable grass game made him a legend at Wimbledon and Rafael Nadal’s clay superiority saw him reign supreme at Roland Garros, it’s tough to pinpoint the reasons behind Djokovic’s Open Era record five-title haul at the Australian Open. Why there and not the US Open?
Djokovic is dominant on every surface yet half of his 10 grand slam trophies have been captured at Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.
It is where he had his first major success back in 2008 and he admits the memories of that maiden victory still rush to him every time he returns to the hallowed blue courts.
It could be that the city caters to Djokovic’s every need. The 28-year-old constantly talks about drawing inspiration from the environment around him. He loves nature, spends lots of time outdoors, and is a people person.
“I think most of the players really enjoy being here in Australia, in Melbourne. It’s a country and city that nurtures sport’s values. Whether it’s professional athletes you see along the way, the facilities that are magnificent around here, or just the regular people that jog, spend a lot of time outdoors, take care of themselves. So when you’re in an environment like this, you feel motivated, you feel inspired to perform at your best,” Djokovic said.
The world No1 commences his title defence Monday against 19-year-old Chung Hyeon of South Korea, chasing Roy Emerson’s all-time mark of six Australian Open crowns.
It will be a battle of present vs future, idol vs admirer, veteran vs rookie. Chung, who was named the ATP’s Most Improved Player for 2015, is making his Australian Open debut and the teenager could not have been dealt a tougher hand.
Djokovic has lost just one match here in five years – to Stan Wawrinka in the 2014 quarter-finals – while Chung has only played two previous grand slam main draws, winning just one match. But the South Korean is considered one of the main talents coming up on tour and it comes as no surprise that he considers Djokovic an inspiration.
“I didn’t really try to copy someone but I really like Djokovic, not just his game, but I love how he mentally prepares and stays cool during the match,” Chung told the No Challenges Remaining podcast.
No3 seed Roger Federer begins his campaign today as he takes on Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.
Like Djokovic, Federer has had great success here in the past, winning four titles – the last in 2010.
One great thing about getting to a grand slam a few days early – besides the fact that it gives you a chance to catch up with the players ahead of the fortnight and write decent previews – is that you get to roam around the grounds of some of the world’s most spectacular tennis venues with no one there except for journalists, players and staff.
You can sit in an empty Rod Laver Arena overlooking a Rafael Nadal practice, or enjoy a cup of coffee under the sun in a peaceful Garden Square.
But such moments are brief and fleeting and even though the Australian Open is yet to commence, Melbourne Park was overtaken by fans, families and children Saturday for the annual Kids’ Tennis Day where the likes of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka entertained the crowds on court joined by none other than the Ninja Turtles.
Can you imagine how mind-blowing it must be for a child to watch Federer and Donatello live on centre court?
It may have been tough squeezing through the masses – and their baby strollers – Saturday to reach the media centre but it’s definitely worth it to see so many youngsters coming to the tennis and taking in the fabulous atmosphere.
Once I finally made it to the media centre, navigating through the crowds outside, and stepped into the nearby Players’ Restaurant for a pre-scheduled interview, I quickly realised that every day is Kids’ Day in the players’ quarters.
There were strollers parked outside the restaurant, the sound of infants crying or laughing providing an interesting soundtrack to a room filled with players and their coaches, grabbing a bite before or after practice.
Just outside the restaurant, Roger Federer is seen carrying one of his adorable twin boys, introducing him to Fabio Fognini and Caroline Wozniacki as he walked through the halls, his twin daughters and other son trailing close behind.
Lleyton Hewitt came to his press conference – the last pre-event one of his career – joined by his kids.
With so many players still competing on tour well into their 30s, it’s no surprise there are more and more fathers – and some mothers – and accordingly their kids, showing up at the tournament’s lounges and dining halls.
Tennis has aged and it is a fact reflected in the expanding 0-36 months demographic present at tournaments.
I asked Maria Sharapova, one of the veterans on tour, whether she’s noticed how many more babies are around and she quickly interrupts me saying: “There are. Oh, my goodness,” the Russian reacts with a smile.
“There are a lot of kids. I don’t know what’s going on. I mean, yeah, it starts at breakfast and it just continues through the day.
“You get used to it. But you start thinking about it. I mean, the mothers that travel with all their children, they’re heroes. It’s really incredible to see what they have to go through, the daily challenges of having kids, being on the road. That cannot be easy. I mean, just the sounds that you hear. That’s just not easy.”
Victoria Azarenka pointed out that you can see more kids around but only because grand slams feature both men and women.
“That’s because it’s combined event. So probably that’s why there’s more kids. I don’t think there’s that many kids when it’s just girls because we kind of play tennis. I mean, there are (some tennis-playing mothers), but there’s not that many,” said the Belarusian.