Australian Open, one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world

L’Australian Open It is one of 4 Grand Slam tournaments, along with Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open. For a tennis player, completing the Grand Slam – that is, winning all four tournaments in the same year – is the most coveted feat of all.

The Grand Slam originated in the 1920s and 1930s, but only took on its current form in 1969, when the distinction between professional and amateur tennis players was put aside. For a long time the Australian Open was the tournament least important of the fourbut since the 1980s, when it was moved to its current location in Melbourne, it has made money great prestige.

The Australian Open has not brought a lot of satisfaction to Italian tennis players. At least until the participation of Jannik Sinner to the 2024 edition.

History of the Australian Open

The Australian Open was born in 1905 with the name of Australasian Championships and included men’s singles and doubles competitions. In 1922 the women and in 1927 the tournament took the name of the Australian Championships, which became Australian Open in 1969.

The venue has changed many times and two early twentieth century editions were even held in New Zealand. Since 1988 the tournament has been held at Melbourne Park on synthetic pitches (in all previous venues they played on grass). Even the racing period was not always the same and only since 1987 it has been set in January.

Melbourne Park's center court, known as Rod Laver Arena (credits Gracchus 250)

Until the Second World War the European and American champions they rarely participated in the tournament, due to the distance (a long ship journey was required to reach Australia). After the war attendance increased, but until the 1980s the Australian Open was considered the least important of the four Slams.

Today the tournament is very prestigious and, like the other three, guarantees great income for tennis players: participation alone, with elimination in the first round, yields more than 70,000 euros and the winner gets a prize of almost two million!

The winners of the Australian Open and the results of the Italians

Until 2023, they were disputed 110 editions of the men’s singles. The tennis player who has achieved the most victories is Djokovicwith 10 successes between 2008 and 2023. Among women, the most successful is Margaret Courtwith eleven victories between 1960 and 1973.

Margaret Court (credits- Koch, Erich)

For Italian players, however, the Australian Open offered little satisfaction. The best performance in the men’s singles, before the current exploit of Jannik Sinnerwas the semi-final reached by Matteo Berrettini in 2022. In the women’s field, no Italian has ever progressed beyond the quarter-finals.

What is the Grand Slam

The Grand Slam includes the four tennis tournaments that award the higher score for the tennis player rankings (the ranking ATP for men and WTA for women) and guarantee i Biggest prizes:

  • Australian Openwhich takes place in Melbourne in January on synthetic pitches.
  • France Internationalsalso known as Roland Garros, which takes place in Paris between May and June on clay courts.
  • Wimbledon Championshipsthe oldest, which is played between June and July in Wimbledon (a district of London) on grass courts.
  • US Openwhich is played in New York, on challenging pitches, between the end of August and the beginning of September.
Official Australian Open logo

Why are these four tournaments the most prestigious?

The origins of the Grand Slam can be traced back to the first decades of the twentieth century, when the popularity of tennis increased throughout the Western world. In 1923 the International Lawn Tennis Federation decided to consider it “official championships” the tournaments of England, France, the United States and Australia, all countries in which tennis had achieved great popularity. In the space of a few years, the four tournaments became the most prestigious in the world. In 1933 the Grand Slam definitionborrowed from bridge (in which it indicates the maximum shot that can be achieved) and already used in golf.

Until 1968, they participated in the Grand Slam tournaments only amateur tennis players. Only in 1969 the International Federation agreed to “unify” professional and amateur tennis. Thus began theit was open”, which still lasts and makes no distinction between amateurs and professionals.

Who has completed the Grand Slam

Few tennis players have completed the Grand Slam. Before the open era, only the American succeeded in the men’s singles Don Budge in 1938 and the Australian Rod Laver in 1962; since the beginning of the open era, the only one to complete it was Laver himself, in 1969. Among women, they achieved the Grand Slam the Australian Margaret Court in 1973 and the German Steffi Graf in 1988.

Rod Laver

Some tennis players have completed the “Career Grand Slam”, that is, they won the four tournaments during their career, but not in the same year. In the open era they succeeded Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal And Novak Djokovic; in the female field, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams And Maria Sharapova. Other players have completed Grand Slams in doubles.

AND Italians? The results were not brilliant. In men’s singles, the only victories in Slam tournaments were those at Roland Garros in Nicola Pietrangeli (1959 and 1960) e Adriano Panatta (1976). Among women, Francesca Schiavone he won Roland Garros in 2010 and Flavia Pennetta the 2015 US Open.