The Australian Open is under way and we’ve already been treated to some stunning tennis. Today, we’re taking a closer look at this prestigious tournament and some of the highlights from the first few days of this year’s event.
The 2017 Australian Open – Some of the Key Moments So Far
Like its fellow Grand Slam tournaments, the Australian Open is known for producing some thrilling on-court battles and surprise results.
This year’s event has already provided some shocks, the most significant being Novak Djokovic’s second-round defeat at the hands of Denis Istomin. Djokovic, the defending champion and world number two, lost by 7-6 (10-8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4. He told the press that Istomin, ranked 117 in the world, “was a better player in the clutch moments”.
“Many things came together for him today and he’s a well-deserved winner,” he said. There’s not much I could do.”
Another big name, this time in the women’s competition, departed shortly after Djokovic. Agnieszka Radwanska, the number three seed, who reached the semi-finals last year, was beaten 6-3, 6-2 by Mirjani Lucic-Baroni, ranked 79th in the world.
These haven’t been the only surprise results of this year’s tournament, however. On the competition’s opening day, American player Shelby Thomas, ranked 52nd in the world, dispatched Simona Halep in the first round. Halep, seeded fourth, attributed her defeat to the fact that she was suffering from tendinitis in her left knee.
Dan Evans, the British number three, also surprised spectators with a superb performance against Marin Cilic in the second round. Evans defeated the world number seven in four sets, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-3, to secure himself a third-round meeting with Bernard Tomic.
The British players hit the headlines earlier in the week too. With five Brits – Andy Murray, Dan Evans, Johanna Konta, Heather Watson and Kyle Edmund – having survived their first-round ties, the team has had its most successful performance at the tournament since 1987.
The Australian Open Tournament – The Basics
The Australian Open is the first Grand Slam tournament of the calendar year and dates back to 1905. Originally held on grass, at Melbourne’s Warehouseman’s Cricket Ground (now the Albert Reserve Centre), it has been played on hard courts at Melbourne Park since 1988. It now attracts more than 700,000 spectators and television coverage of the event is broadcast across the world.
In December 2016, the tournament’s organisers announced that they would be dramatically increasing the prize money for the 2017 competition. The total prize fund now stands at $50 million (£29.4 million), with the winners of the men’s and women’s singles events taking home a whopping $3.7 million (£2.24 million) each.
The winner of the men’s singles competition is also presented with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup. This ornate silver trophy cup, which stands on a plinth engraved with its winners’ names, was made in England and its design was inspired by a Roman marble vase. It’s named after the late Sir Norman Everard Brookes, a former Australian tennis champion and president of the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia.
The women’s singles champion receives the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup, an impressive silver trophy named in honour of the Australian player who won the title in 1925, 1926, 1928, 1929 and 1930, but who sadly died in 1933, aged just 29.
Which players do you think will win the 2017 Australian Open titles? What’s been your favourite moment of the tournament so far? Add a comment below.