What Is The Australian Open In Tennis?
The Australian Open is one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the world and one of four tennis Grand Slams. The Australian Open takes place in mid-late January every year, offers almost $3,000,000 to the winner of the tournament, and is considered a crowning achievement in a tennis player’s career.
- Website: https://ausopen.com
- Founded: 1905
- Location: Melbourne, Australia (since 1972)
- Venue: Melbourne Park (since 1988)
- Surface: Grass, outdoors (1905-1987) Hard, outdoors (since 1988)
- Prize Money: $76.5 million AUD ($53 million USD)
The Australian Open is the first and most highly attended of the four Grand Slam tennis events each year. Listed below is a brief summation of the tournament’s rich history, a breakdown of what the winners of each match walk away with, and the various Australian Open records set and held by the very best in the sport.
Australian Open Format
The Australian Open takes place annually in mid-to-late January. It is held at Melbourne Park, an athletic venue in the city of Melbourne, which is the capital of the Australian province of Victoria.
The tournament lasts two weeks, with the end of the event typically coinciding with Australia Day, the country’s official holiday, which is celebrated on January 26. Events and competitions featured at the tournament include:
- Men’s and Women’s Singles
- Men’s, Women’s, and Mixed Doubles
- Junior’s Championships
- Wheelchair, Legends, and Exhibition Events
The first round of play is a multi-day qualification phase, after which players are seeded according to their performance, and knockout rounds begin. The next rounds follow a traditional single-elimination tournament bracket until a winner is determined.
Similar to other Grand Slams, the men’s singles tournament follows a traditional best-of-five set matches, while women’s singles, women’s doubles, and men’s doubles play best-of-three set matches. To win a set, a player must win at least six games, and be ahead of two games in that set. If the fourth set (in men’s singles) is completed and the score is even at 2-2, players will play until someone reaches ten points in an extra tie-breaking game.
The Australian Open is played on hardcourts, and has been since 1988, the first year it was held in Melbourne. Prior to 1988, the tournament was played on grass.
The first Australian Open was held in 1905 at the Warehousemen’s Cricket Ground in Melbourne and was titled The Australasian Championships. After almost two decades, in 1922, women’s singles and doubles events were added to the roster of official events. For the next 50 or so years, the tournament slowly increased in popularity and was played in seven different locations, five in Australia (Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth) and even two singular events in New Zealand (Christchurch in 1906 and Hastings in 1912).
In the late 1960s, 70s, and 80s, the tournament began to majorly shift things around. In 1969, the moniker The Australian Open was officially adopted. Three years later, it was decided to make the competition a spectator experience in Melbourne, with an estimated attendance of 140,000 people.
In 1988, the official playing surface was switched from grass to a hard outdoor court, and the official home of the Australian Open became the arena at Melbourne Park. Since these two switches occurred, the tournament bloomed into the most attended competition in tennis history, giving it the nickname “the happy slam.”
Like any professional tennis tournament, the Australian Open is divided into qualifying rounds, competitive rounds, and final matches, with respective money and recognition awarded at each successive level. Ranking points for men are awarded by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP), while the ranking points for women are awarded by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).
For singles, ATP and WT points start at 0 for men and 2 for women in the first qualifying round and go up to 2000 points for winning the final match. There are no qualifying rounds for doubles, and the points start at 0 for the men and 10 for the women in the R64 round and increase gradually up to 2000 points for winning the final match.
Prize money for the Australian Open works very similarly to the way that ranking points are awarded by the ATP and WTA. Winnings are distributed equally between women’s and men’s tournaments, with a starting amount of $26,000 AUD ($17,900 USD) for the Q1 round and ending eventually at $2.975 million AUD ($2.05 million USD) for winning the final match.
For doubles, prize money begins later in the second round (2R) with $30,975 AUD ($21,400 USD) and increases per round until the final award amount of $695,000 AUD ($479,600 USD). For mixed doubles, prize money begins in round one, with $6,600 AUD ($4,554 USD) and ends with a grand prize of $157,750 AUD ($108, 861 USD).
Winners of the Australian Open
Margaret Court is the most prolific individual winner of the Australian Open. She won a total of 11 times, including seven victories before 1968 (when it was still the Australian Championships) and four victories after 1968.
Novak Djokovic has won more Australian Open singles events than any other man, having won the tournament ten times, including two separate three-peats in which he won three championships straight (2011-2013, 2019-2021). Djokovic won the 2020 Australian Open in the individual tournament, while Sofia Kenin won the individual tournament on the women’s side. The 2021 individual tournament was won by Djokovic on the men’s side and Naomi Osaka on the women’s side. In 2022, the men’s individual champion was Rafael Nadal, with Ashleigh Barty taking the women’s title. In 2023, Djokovic won his 10th Australian Open singles title and Aryna Sabalenka won her first.
Who won the 2023 Australian Open?
Novak Djokovic won the 2023 Australian Open Men’s Singles tournament over Stefanos Tsitsipas in three sets. Aryna Sabalenka won the Women’s Singles tournament over Elena Rybakina, also in three sets. Australian duo Rinky Hijikata and Jason Kubler won the Men’s Doubles event, while Barbora Krejčíková and Kateřina Siniaková won the Women’s Doubles event.
How much does the winner of the Australian Open get?
The winner of the men’s and women’s singles tournaments are awarded $2.975 million AUD ($2.05 million USD) for winning the final match. In 2022, Rafael Nadal won the Australian Open, and his winnings amounted to $2.875 million. Ashleigh Barty won in the women's singles division and received the same amount. The total prize purse for the whole tournament was $53.5 million. Each year’s tournament, however, offers different prize money. The winners of the men’s and women’s doubles tournaments are awarded a prize amount of $695,000 AUD ($479,600 USD). The winners of the mixed doubles final are given a grand total of $157,750 AUD ($108,861 USD).
Who is the best player in the history of the Australian Open?
Margaret Smith Court from Australia is probably the best player in the history of the Australian Open. Between 1960 and 1973, she won the tournament 11 times. The next closest woman in the singles division is Serena Williams, with seven titles. On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic has won the Australian Open nine times. His first win came in 2008, and his ninth win came in 2021.
Australian Open so important?
The Australian Open is one of only four Grand Slam tournaments throughout the year, so it’s very important to both players and fans alike. Grand Slam tournaments offer more prize money and more people to watch the event on TV. In terms of winnings, the Australian Open has the second-highest prize pool of the Grand Slams, so players are always very motivated to win. Also, winning a Grand Slam tournament is seen as the highest level of achievement in tennis, similar to a major tournament in golf. This makes the level of competition very high and exciting to watch.