The Australian Open is the first major tennis tournament of the year held in January in Melbourne, Australia. It’s considered one of the major World level tennis opens, which are often referred to as “Grand Slams”. So along with the US Open, French Open and Wimbledon, it is a good predictor of the success of players over the coming year.
How will the weather affect play?
In Australia, January through March are usually the hottest months of the year, particularly so for Melbourne which his usually far more temperate during the rest of the year. Due to this extreme heat there has been some recent debate around moving the timing of the Australian Open or possibly even the location. This request was aimed at avoiding possible playing conditions of 40 degrees Celsius, and also provide player with a little more rest time before the gruelling year ahead. However, given its primary position as the first major open of the year it is uniquely situated as an important tourist and cultural event for Melbourne and Australia more generally. It also is the favourite event of many players.
History of the Australian Open
Melbourne has a historical legacy for the Australian Open, given it was previously known as the Kooyong Classic in Hawthorn, Melbourne before it moved to Melbourne Park in the city. Just as tennis rackets changed over time, from wood to fibre glass, so to has the tennis court surface it has been played on. The grass courts at Kooyong were more likely to wear due to weather damage or excessive watering – the artificial courts at Melbourne Park don’t have this problem. Camera technology has also improved over time, so features like tracking the movement of the ball, confirming line calls and slow-motion replays can now show just how incredibly fast the serve of these global champions can be.
Who are the best players competing?
Thankfully this year doesn’t present the same challenges as last year with Covid-19, and the vaccine requirements (luckily for Novak Djokovich – yes he is competing this year) the illness is still present and if any players suffer symptoms, they are asked not to play. That being said, there are some big names missing from this years line-up.
Sad news for Aussies as our highest ranked Women’s player, Ajla Tomljanovic will be a notable absence due to injury. So too will two-time Open winner Naomi Osaka, who recently announced that she is pregnant!
Luckily many other major circuit players will still be competing at the Australian Open. This includes own hometown favourite rebel Nick Kyrgios, alongside future stars like Raphael Nadal (Spain), Alexander Zverev (Germany) and Daniil Medvedev (Russia). Women’s players ranging from Iga Swiatek (Poland) to Jessica Pegulla (USA) should also get fans excited.
Fast paced action on the courts will finally be back to normal this year with no Covid rules on social gatherings and mask laws. Tournament play will rely on keen line callers, camera technology and excited fans watching every second of the fast serves from these tennis greats. Despite the predicted heat, the Australian Open 2023 will hopefully feel like things are going back to normal in Melbourne again, and it will be another great success for Australian tourism on the world stage.