5 Most Memorable Moments in Australian Open History
The Tennis Grand Slam curtain-raiser, The Australian Open, never fails to deliver a plethora of mouth-watering drama and jaw-dropping tennis to start the tennis calendar off with a bang.
With the illustrious tournament likely to be shelved due to the ongoing pandemic that has enveloped the world, it seemed the perfect time to explore some unforgettable moments that the Australian competition has treated us to. Tears, tantrums, breath-taking tennis, and some inspiring sportsmanship to reminisce about.
1990 John McEnroe Loses It
It’s no secret that John McEnroe has a short fuse and the ability to let his temper run riot out on the court. The American is no stranger to being asked to leave the court, or trading expletive language with the umpire, but in the 1990 Australian Open, the hot-headed tennis star outdid himself.
McEnroe tasted the bitter taste of disqualification for misconduct on the court, something he had not experienced since 1963. McEnroe stopped to glare at a lineswoman, that was the first violation of the day. A wide forehand saw him take it out on his weapon of choice, smashing the racket to the ground earning himself another strike. The umpire’s call for code violation prompted the American to begin shouting obscenities towards him, which led to his third and final strike.
The unaware McEnroe continued to play and had not realised that the previous 4-strike rule had changed to a 3-strike rule and was forced to retire from his match. McEnroe’s on-court tantrums continued to mount and he was the first player to be disqualified from a Slam since 1963.
Jim Courier Takes a Dip
Jim Courier dismantled Stefan Edberg over the space of 4 sets to secure Australian slam silverware, but the victory was not what the tennis fans remember about that glorious day.
The combination of heat, exhaustion, and emotional drain saw the American take a dip in the Yarra River with coach Brad Stine. The pair struck a deal that if Courier secured victory they would reward themselves with a cooling dip in the local river. Despite the Victoria Health Department’s warnings of high pollution levels, the two dived in without a care in the world. Undeterred the following year, the pair embarked on this post-match tradition again.
Rodger Federer is arguably the greatest player to ever walk the length of a tennis court. The Swiss maestro plays his game with the grace of a gazelle and plays some truly tantalising tennis. Federer experienced a different brand of tennis in 2009, as the Swiss champion was beaten in a gruelling 5-set thriller against a defiant Rafa Nadal.
The tennis was mind-blowing but it was the post-match emotions displayed by the normally calm and collected Federer which made this one final to remember in Melbourne. Minutes after losing the epic final, Federer took to the microphone and muttered “God, it’s killing me,” before shedding some tears in an emotional display. Shortly after the Swiss exhibited his emotional vulnerability, Nadal embraced a hug with his tennis rival which highlighted one of the most memorable Australian Opens to date.
Serena Williams Defeats Venus Williams
The Williams sisters seemed to meet at every corner on the tennis circuit throughout the early years, and 2003 was no different as they faced each other in the 2003 Australian Open final. Serena triumphed over her older sister to become the fifth woman in history to hold all major titles simultaneously.
The siblings engaged in their vocal, hard-hitting exchanges, with Venus able to match her sister throughout the tight Open final. Venus served the first set at 5-4, but Serena rallied to force a tiebreaker, which invigorated her to win 7-4. Venus claimed the second set and displayed her resilience in the third by fighting off five breakpoints. Serena ultimately triumphed, winning the final two games 7-6, 3-6, 6-4. The two sisters exhibited why they exercised women’s tennis supremacy over the circuit in a mouth-watering sibling final.
Andre Agassi Battles Pete Sampras
The 2000 Australian Open semi-finals represented the 30th meeting between Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, but this was the only time the two tennis titans went to all five sets. Sampras, who at the time, was considered the best server the game had ever seen, and Agassi, who had one of the best service return games was always a great match up.
Sampras presented to the tennis public why he had been heralded as the best server in the game, firing 37 aces past Agassi but still ended up on the losing side. Sampras was gifted the chance to close out the match in the fourth set tiebreaker but Agassi’s high-octane tennis proved why he was at the apex of his career, producing two service winners to get to set point
Ultimately, the matched turned on a sequence in the fifth set. It seemed Agassi’s serves and shot-placement were immaculate and the number-one seed could not miss. Sampras missed a handful of volleys that he should have put away with ease for someone of his calibre. Defeated, the number three seed could only muster a single game as Agassi took the match 4-6, 6-3, 6-7 (0), 7-6 (5) 6-1 in just under three hours.
Agassi was a common favourite and had the support of the crowd throughout, but Sampras had an alluring tennis awe that won partisan home support at most slams. This Australian Open semi-final will go down in the history books between arguably the best server the game’s ever seen against the greatest returner of all time