The Grand Slam Episode 1
The first Grand Slam of the year has just begun. Tennis fans around the world have just started their journey through major tennis tournaments followed by French Open, Wimbledon and US Open.
A Bit of History
Australian Open was first played in November 1905 in Melbourne. Initially known as the Australasian Championships, later renamed to Australian Championships in 1927 to finally become the Australian Open in 1969. The first championship matches were held in five Australian cities (Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth) and two New Zealand cities (Christchurch and Hastings). In 1972, it was decided to move the tournament to Melbourne due to high profile of this city which ensured attracting the biggest number of players and viewers. The decision caused a 90 percent increase in attendance after the Australian Open started to be staged in the Melbourne Park complex in 1988.
Remote and Exotic
Due to its remote location and vast distances to be covered even inside Australia itself, not too many players attended the tournament in the early 20th century (in the 1920s, the boat trip from Europe to Australia took approximately 45 days!). It was only in 1983 when the Australian Open started to gain popularity mostly due to the fact that such tennis stars as Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe and Mats Wilander decided to take part.
Another reason for the lack of popularity were changing and inconvenient dates that the championships were held. Not everyone was ready to come thousands of miles around the Christmas and New Year time. Since 1987, the Australian Open date has not changed and is played in mid-January.
The structure and Prizes
Currently, the Australian Open features men's and women's singles; men's, women's and mixed doubles and junior's championships; as well as wheelchair, legends and exhibition events. Since 1988, it has been played on hardcourt surfaces (before it was played on grass). The total prize money for the tournament amounts to 40 million Australian dollars with approximately $3,000,000 awarded to the winner in singles.
Nowadays, the Australian Open Championships are attended by the top tennis players in the world and are considered as the major Grand Slam events. The number one and two tennis players in the ATP men’s singles rankings – Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic are the stars of this year’s tournament with Novak Djokovic defending his last year’s title won with Murray.
The first two female tennis players in the WTA singles rankings – Angelique Kerber and Serena Williams will also try to show their best on Melbourne courts with Kerber defending her last year’s title.
The event is broadcast by a number of networks including Fox Sports, Eurosport, beIN Sports, ESPN and the Tennis Channel. The official Australian Open site shows live coverage of the matches as well as multitude of various additional attractions such as interviews, comments, news, reports, etc. Schedules of the championship matches can be found here.
How to watch
The tournament can be followed live on a number channels:
As easy as it can get
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