If the collective emotions of the Australian people could be harnassed, Patrick Rafter would have won a sackful of Australian championships. He was one of our most popular players because of his gallantry, his dashing style of play, and lack of affectation. His good looks won him a few points too.

Pat Rafter

Ever since Mark Edmondson won the 1976 Open, Australians had been awaiting another home-grown champion to place his name on the men’s honour roll. One of the vanishing breed of serve and volley players, Rafter slowly imposed himself on the Australian consciousness in the 90s. But he rarely played as well at home as on foreign shores. He twice won the US Open and twice made the Wimbledon final.

His best effort at Melbourne Park was a fourth round finish in 1995 – the best, that is, until 2001, when he faced Andre Agassi in a semifinal, with a chance to play either Arnaud Clement or Yevgeny Kafelnikov in the final.

Pat Rafter

On a warm, steamy evening, Rafter led Agassi by two sets to one. As the match wore on, however, the heat and tension took toll of the Aussie’s muscles, causing him to sweat heavily, cramp, and struggle with fatigue. Agassi, keeping down unforced errors, won 7-5 2-6 6-7 6-2 6-3.

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi and Pat Rafter

Source: 2010 official program

The No.5 seed in Melbourne, Sam Stosur will enter the event as Australia’s best hope and only seeded player.
It has been 28 years since the Australian Open was won by homegrown talent, not since unseeded Chris O’Neil surprised everybody for her one and only career title at the Open in 1978.
A former world number one in doubles, she was sidelined for about 9 months in 2007-2008 with the debilitating career-threatening Lyme’s disease. She recovered to regain her place in the top 30 in 2009 and since then she seems to have some kind of a second, more successful career.

Sam had a standout 2010 season, reaching the finals at Roland Garros and the Masters’ semifinals, and cracking the top 5. She is now a real threat in the Grand Slam tournaments.
Her 2011 season is quite caotic so far as she suffered two second round losses in Brisbane (lost to Jarmila Groth) and Sydney (lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova). She could face Zvonareva in quarter final and Clijsters in semies. But her biggest challenge will be to deal with the pressure.

Let’s have a look at the other contenders:

Caroline Wozniacki
She’s probably the player (apart from Stosur) with the most pressure on her shoulder as she has to prove she can finally win a Slam.
Her best result Down Under was a fourth round last year, so nothing impressive, but she proved her game is effective on hard courts, as she reached the final at Flushing Meadows in 2009 and the semies last year.
Wozniacki has a tough half of the draw with 5 previous Grand Slam champions (Venus Williams, Francesca Schiavone, Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova and Svetlana Kutznetsova).

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The iPad App replicates the full 80 page tournament program guide and adds a few of the cool things you’d be expecting from a grand slam event app, like live news, live scores, plus player, celebrity and fan tweets, game schedules, current weather updates, ticketing information, foursquare check-ins and video highlights updated all day long and a pretty cool autograph scrapbook for players to sign.
It also features the “Tournament Talk”, a visualisation of all the live tweets as they come in.

In honor of the Fila brand’s 100th anniversary in 2011, the company announced that reigning US Open Singles champion Kim Clijsters will debut the first in a series of 100th anniversary commemorative collections of performance tennis apparel at the 2011 Australian Open.
This new collection, named for another Fila champion, four time Australian Open champion Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, sought inspiration from the brand’s archives of styles worn by Evonne during her 14 Grand Slam title reign in the 1970s and early 80s.

2011 Australian Open: Kim Clijsters Fila outfit

“We are thrilled that Evonne will serve as a brand ambassador for Fila as we honor her tennis legacy during our 100th anniversary year,” said Gene Yoon, Chairman of Fila.
“It was only fitting that Kim Clijsters wear this collection since she is the only woman after Goolagong-Cawley to win a Grand Slam as a mother. Kim and Evonne are inspirations to mothers and tennis fans around the world with their grace, athleticism and drive…”

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Reebok Pump Court Victory “Grand Slam” Collection

Reebok pay homage to the yearly tennis Grand Slam tour with a pack of Pump Court Victory sneakers. Once the signature sneaker of American teen prodigy Michael Chang, the collection of four sneakers each draw their respective inspirations from the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open. The sneakers should start hitting retailers soon in anticipation of the upcoming Australian Open.

Reebok Pump Court Victory “Grand Slam” Collection

Reebok Pump Court Victory “Grand Slam” Collection

Reebok Pump Court Victory “Grand Slam” Collection

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