Show Court 3 - Nalbandian v Smeets

– The tournament was held for the first time in 1905 and was contested on grass from 1905 through 1987.

– The tournament was first known as the Australasian Championships, became the Australian Championships in 1927 and the Australian Open in 1969.

– The tournament has been staged twice in New Zealand: in Christchurch in 1906 and Hastings in 1912.

– Five australian cities have hosted the tournament: Melbourne (54 times), Sydney(17), Adelaide(14), Brisbane(7), Perth(3). The 1971 Open was the last time the tournament would be played outside Melbourne.

– Last Aussie players to win the Australian Open are Mark Edmondson in 1976 and Chris O’Neil in 1978.

– In 1982, for the first time in tennis history, a player wins two Grand Slam titles in the same calendar year, at the same tournament and against the same opponent: on December 13, 1982 Johan Kriek repeats as Australian Open champion, defeating number 2 seed Steve Denton 6-3 6-3 6-2. The two players played in the 1981 Australian Open final that is played on January 3, 1982, Kriek winning 6-2 7-6 6-7 6-4.

– In 1988, the tournament moved from Kooyong to Flinders Park (now Melbourne Park) and became a hard court event. The move to Flinders Park was an immediate success, with a 90 percent increase in attendance in 1988 (266 436) on the previous year at Kooyong (140 000).
Mats Wilander is the only male player to have won the Australian Open on both grass (1983 and 1984) and hard courts (1988).

– On January 21, 1990, at the Australian Open, John McEnroe becomes the first player since 1963 to be disqualified from a Grand Slam tournament for misconduct. Leading Mikael Pernfors 6-1 4-6 7-5 2-4, McEnroe is disqualified by chair umpire Gerry Armstrong after breaking a racquet and insulting the supervisor.
The last player to be disqualified from a Grand Slam for misconduct had been Willie Alvarez of Spain, in the 1963 French Open, 17 years earlier.

– The Extreme Heat Policy was introduced in 1998 after consultation with players. It comes into play when daytime temperatures hit 35 degrees and the heat stress level reaches 28.
Officials considered closing the roof for the final in 1993 due to a temperature of 104 degrees (40 °C), but Jim Courier threatened to boycott the match unless the roof remained open.

– Prior to the 2000 tournament, the Centre Court was named Rod Laver Arena to honour tennis legend Rod Laver, the only player in tennis history to have captured two Grand Slams (in 1962 and 1969).
Besides tennis, Rod Laver Arena hosts motorbike super cross, conferences, concerts and ballets.

– In the first round of the Australian Open 2000, Marat Safin became the first player ever fined for lack of effort at a Grand Slam. Under the Grand Slam “best effort” rule, the 19-year-old Muscovite was fined $2,000 for failing to make an appropriate effort in his 7-6 (7-4), 6-4, 6-1 loss to South African qualifier Grant Stafford.

– In 2003, the Show Court One was renamed Margaret Court Arena to honour Australian great Margaret Court.
With a capacity of 6 000 seats, it is the largest capacity fully outdoor court used at the Australian Open. Future improvements to the Arena include a capacity expansion of 1500 seats, to total 7500, as well as the installation of an retractable roof for the 2015 Australian Open.

– The highest ever day/night attendance in Grand Slam history was recorded during the first week of Oz Open 2010, with 77 043 fans attending on Saturday 23th January.

– The women’s singles winner is presented with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup. The men’s singles winner is presented with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup.

Jimmy Connors, 1991 US Open

Excerpt of Top 100 greatest days in New York City sports by Stuart Miller:

Jimmy Connors won five U.S. Opens on three different surfaces at two different places, yet he’s best remembered for a tournament in which he didn’t even reach the finals. That 1991 performance was the third and final act for Connors, who had won as the brash bully of the 1970s and as the curmudgeonly craftsman of the 1980s. This time Connors, seemingly washed up, transformed himself into a feel-good story for a society built on both a Peter Pan complex and the worship of true grit. This aging inspiration captivated even the most casual sports fans, attaining a new level of celebrity and forging an unforgettable legacy with his classic American blend of tenacity and showmanship.

That tournament, Connors said later, was “the most memorable 11 days of my career. Better than the titles.”

And he gave his growing legion of fans not one but three classic matches.

So which is your favorite? Bet you can’t choose just one.

You could select the first-round comeback against Patrick McEnroe on August 27.

Because it seemed incredible that Connors was even there. His iron man records—109 pro titles, 159 straight weeks at number one, 12 straight Open semifinals, and 16 straight years in the top 10—were in the past. Connors had played and lost three matches in 1990 before submitting to wrist surgery. He’d plummeted to 936th in the world, defaulted at the French Open in 1991 owing to a cranky back—the defining symbol of old age—and lost in the third round of Wimbledon; he was ranked just 174th by Open time and needed a wild-card berth just to gain entrance to his “home court.”

Jimmy-Connors 1991 US Open Tennis

Because he beat a McEnroe. Sure, Patrick, ranked just 35th, lacked the skill and artistic temperament of his famous older brother, but he was an Australian Open semifinalist and had beaten Boris Becker that summer.

Because this was the first time we saw Connors’s vibrant Estusa racket flashing through the night, proclaiming the return of the king.

Because he overcame the greatest deficit of all, dropping the first two sets to the steady McEnroe 6–4, 7–6, then falling behind 0–3 in the third. Connors was limping (an act, perhaps, lulling his prey or laying groundwork for an alibi), and the stadium was emptying, everyone writing Connors off. By the next game there’d be perhaps 6,000 loyalists from the original sellout crowd. According to Joel Drucker’s biography-memoir Jimmy Connors Saved My Life, even Connors’s staunchest supporter, his mother and first teacher Gloria, turned away from the television.

Then, at 0–40, one mistake from oblivion, Connors finally turned it on. And once he did, McEnroe could not finish off tennis’s Rasputin, who drew his lifeblood from the screaming, stomping, bowing fans that remained. Connors held, saved two more break points at 2–3, won five of six games for the third set, then snared the fourth set 6–2 and finished McEnroe off 6–4 in the fifth. The 4-hour-18-minute epic ended at 1:35 a.m. “The crowd won it for me,” Connors said. “The crowd was an awful heavy burden for Patrick.”
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20 years after their final at Roland Garros, Andre Agassi and Jim Courier met again in Paris, but this time for an exhibition on a little but packed court 7.

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

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I was at Roland Garros today, not for the womens final because I didn’t manage to get tickets (by the way, congrats to Na Li for her historic victory) but for the Trophée des Légendes.

But first, on Court 7 today, an exhibition between Jim Courier, Andre Agassi, Mansour Bahrami and young players of the Longines Future Tennis Aces tournament.

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

Andre Agassi

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One year after his surprising defeat to Andres Gomez, Andre Agassi was back in Roland Garros final, trying to capture his first Grand Slam title. His opponent in final: Jim Courier, a guy he grew up with at the Bolletieri academy.

Jim Courier - Andre Agassi

Extract of Andre Agassi‘s autobiography Open:

“At the 1991 French Open I batter my way through six rounds and reach the final. My third slam final. I’m facing Courier and I’m favored. Everyone says I’ll beat him. I need to beat him. I can’t imagine what it would feel like to make three slam finals in a row and not win.
The good news is I know how to beat Courier. I beat him just last year at this same tournament. The bad news is, it’s personal, which makes me tight. We began in the same place, in the same barracks at the Bolletieri Academy, our bunk beds a feet apart. I was so much better than Courier, so much more favored by Nick, that losing to him in the final of a slam will feel like the hare losing to the tortoise. Bad enough that Chang has won a slam before me. And Pete. But Courier too? I can’t let that happen.

I come out playing to win. I’ve learned from my mistakes at the last two slams. I cruise through the first set, winning 6-3, and in the second set, leading 3-1, I have break point. If I win this point I’ll have a choke hold on the set and match. Suddenly the rain starts to fall. Fans cover themselves and run for shelter. Courier and I retreat to the locker room, where we both pace like caged lions. Nick comes in and I look to him for advice, encouragement, but he says nothing. Nothing. I’ve known for some time that I continue with Nick out of habit and loyalty, and not for real coaching. Still, in this moment, it’s not coaching I need but a show of humanity, which is one of the duties of any coach. I need some recognition of the adrenaline-charged moment in which I find myself. Is that too much to ask?

After the rain delay, Courier stations himself farther behind the baseline, hoping to take some of the steam off my shots. He’s had time to rest, and reflect, and recharge, and he storms back to keep me from breaking, then wins the second set. now I’m angry. Furious. I win the third set 6-2.
I establish in Courier’s mind, and in my own, that the second set was a fluke. Up two sets to one, I can feel the finish line pulling me. My first slam. Six little games away.

As the fourth set opens, I lose twelve of the first thirteen points. Am I unraveling or is Courier playing better? I don’t know. I’ll never know. But I do know that this feeling is familiar. Hauntingly familiar. This sense of inevitability. This weightlessness ad momentum slips away. Courier wins the set 6-1.

In the fifth set, tied 4-4, he breaks me. Now, all at once, I just want to lose.

I can’t explain it any other way. In the fourth set I lost the will, but now I’ve lost the desire. As certain as I felt about victory at the start of this match, that’s how certain I am now of defeat. And I want it. I long for it. I say under my breath: Let it be fast. Since losing is death, I’d rather it be fast than slow.

I no longer hear the crowd. I no longer hear my own thoughts, only a white noise between my ears. I can’t hear or feel anything except my desire to lose. I drop the tenth and decisive game of the fifth set, and congratulate Courier. Friends tell me it’s the most desolate look they’ve ever seen on my face.

Afterward, I don’t scold myself. I coolly explain it to myself this way: You don’t have what it takes to get over the line. You just quit on yourself – You need to quit the game”.