The 107th edition of the Australian Open
promises to be as gruelling as ever. Along with frazzling summer temperatures and fast, bouncy court surfaces, the best players in the world have to be at the top of their game if they’re to claim a slice of the multi-million-dollar prize pool.
Aging giants like Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams have their work cut out for them as they face-off against an army of young guns. Fans can anticipate major upsets by the likes of ‘Sasha’ Zverev, Dominic Thiem and Naomi Osaka. With wild cards of the calibre of Jack Sock and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga thrown into the mix, anything’s possible on the show courts of Melbourne Park.
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The first of four major tennis championships is pencilled in for the 14th
January 2019. This year, as with every year, the Australian Open is expected to attract record numbers of TV viewers from across the world. Before you buckle-up to watch the sizzling action on the ‘true blue’ courts of the Rod Laver and Margaret Court Arenas, check out these fascinating Australian Open tennis facts.
Kenyan One of First Black Africans at the Oz Open
Image Source: kenyapage.net
Very few black African tennis players have competed at the highest level in Australia. One such man was Paul Wekesa, a pro from Kenya who plied his trade in the mid to late nineties. Although Wekesa only progressed to the second round of competiton in the singles format, he and his partner, Gilad Bloom reached the quarterfinals in the doubles competition at the 1992 Australian Open.
What it Takes to Host the Australian Open
Image Source: sportskeeda.com
Hosting a tournament on the scale of the Australian Open is not for sissies. Along with catering for more than 750 000 live fans, organisers have to ensure that the 900 million plus viewers worldwide are getting their share of the action. Then of course there are the needs of the players themselves.
To give you an idea of what it all entails, here are a few stats from last year’s tournament:
- More than 60 km of gut was used to restring 5250 tennis racquets… and in double quick time.
- Technicians set up 765 square metres of LED TV screens across the three show courts.
- A fleet of luxury cars travelled more than 400 000 km transporting players to and from Melbourne Park.
- One ton of caviar, 15 000 doughnuts, 45 000 sushi packs and 250 000 coffees were consumed over the two weeks.
How Much is at Stake
Image Source: 101greatgoals.com
Aside from the status and recognition accorded to the eventual men’s and women’s Australian Open singles champions, there’s plenty of cash and ranking points up for grabs. In 2019 winners bank a cool A$4,1 million plus 2000 ATP or WTA ranking points. Finalists walk away with A$2,05 million apiece and 1200 or 1300 ATP or WTA ranking points respectively – not too shabby for just two weeks work!
Why the Court Surface Counts
Image Source: thesportdigest.com
These days the majors are contested on vastly different court surfaces. There’s the grass of Wimbledon, the red clay of Roland Garros and the DecoTurf of Flushing Meadows. In keeping with the tradition, the Australian Open has evolved from grass through Rebound Ace to its current form; the so-called Plexicushion Prestige.
The existing court surface is unique in that it’s quicker, cooler and more consistent than the Rebound Ace. It’s faster than grass but slower than DecoTurf, attributes that mean the quick, offensive players in the mould of Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev, Angelique Kerber and Simona Halep are likely to prevail to the end!
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