In the heart of Melbourne, you will find one of the most prestigious tournaments of the ATP circuit and the first ” Grand Slam ” of the season – The Australian Open Tournament, a competition with more than a hundred years of history which has been testament to some of the best tennis performances of the 21st century. Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Rafa Nadal already know the glory of these symbolic and sensational courts.
Tennis players from all corners of the globe gather at the Australian Open to confront the extreme heat of the Hisense Arena and the Rod Laver Arena, where dehydration, blisters and fainting are common place occurrences, hence the ‘Extreme Heat Policy’ or extreme heat politics, which allows the interruption of matches when temperatures rise above 40º.
Starting the fourth week of January, more than 62 thousand people prepare to enjoy the memorable showdown at Melbourne Park, which is the current location for the competition. The ” Grand Slam ” is one of the oldest within the circuit, and promises history in themaking wherever it may be held.
A Grand Tournament
It was 1905, the grass pitches of Kooyong would be the first to host the so called ” Campeonato de Australasia ” whose name between 1927 and 1968 would change to ‘Campeonatos de Australia’. It was a competition different to the norm and unheard of within the rest of the continents, which eventually however, would become one of the most important within international tennis.
The initial home for this tournament, would change constantly: Perth, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaida to name a few, including up to seven different cities – a peculiarity not shared by any other ‘Grand Slam’. Like so many other tournaments, local athletes exercised monopoly in their first confrontations. With the exceptions of American Fred Alexander or Englishmen Lowe and Kingscote, few were able to open a gap in Australia, largely due to the distance that separated the great tennis players of the time.
1969 would mark a before and after in the history of the competition; the Open Age would begin, and participants waving flags of various nations would achieve unexpected triumphs decades before. Argentinian Guillermo Vilas, would consecutively place 1st between 1978 and 1979 – A process which would soon be repeated by Mats Wilander and other sportsmen originating from the five continents.
Now we move on to 1988, where yet another turn of events would occur within the Open; the soft paste like surface on the court would be changed to cement, due to the tournament being moved to Melbourne Park; in the new century, the cement courts of the “Rebound Ace ” would once again be replaced by the modern ” Plexicushion “.
Spanish Presence Within The Australian Open Tennis Tournament
During the last few decades, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Andre Agassi have all demonstrated their skills and dominance of the sport within the tournament; Spanish tennis players, however are renown for being absent within the Open, with the exception of a few names, who are considered masters of the racquet.
Fresh within our memories, is the match in which Andrés Gimeno faced off against Rod Laver in the finals in 1969; even though Barcelona bred Andrés could not better Laver, it made many keen players dream of the day they would win the tournament. Yet again at the end of the century, Carlos Moyá once again lost during the finals, making winning the tournament seem like an unachievable goal for Spanish players. But in 2009, Rafa Nadal successfully managed to defeat his opponent Roger Federer and in the process winning the Open.
After five sets, countless unforgettable swings, and more than four grueling hours, Nadal successfully placed at number one in the world. We can’t forget however the torturous road that separates Gimeno from Nadal – a road marked with pure motivation and effort with a few rewards along the way. In this sense none of this would have been possible without the backing of several diverse institutions, federations, sports clubs and not forgetting the efforts of summer camps.
Legendary players, an unmatched public and long lasting tradition are just some of the components of this ” Grand Slam “, a challenge only reserved for the greatest of players. It is safe to say the Australian Open Tennis Tournament is in a league of its own when compared to other tennis tournaments.