3 youngest men's singles champions at the Australian Open
The Australian Open is a hardcourt tournament which opens the Grand Slam season on the tennis calendar. But that hasn't always been the case.
The last of the four Grand Slam tournaments to open its doors to professionals, the Australian Open was played on grass till 1987 before transitioning to hardcourt in the second year of moving to its present location of Melbourne Park, then called Flinders Park.
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For a brief period between 1977 and 1985, the Australian Open was actually the last of the four Grand Slam tournaments in a season, hosted a few weeks after the US Open. Owing to another schedule change to encourage more top-ranked players to participate in it, the tournament was moved back to January from the 1987 editions onwards - which meant that there was no Australian Open in the 1986 season.
Novak Djokovic (7) and Roger Federer (6) lead a group of 26 players to have lifted the Australian Open title in the Open Era. On that note, let us have a look at the three youngest players to have triumphed at the tournament since it began allowing professionals to compete in 1969.
#3 Novak Djokovic: 20 years 250 days (2008)
Novak Djokovic was making his fourth appearance at the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, following a pair of first-round exits and a fourth-round appearance. Fresh off a maiden Grand Slam final (2007 US Open: lost to Roger Federer), he dethroned two-time defending Federer in the semis to book a title clash with Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
It marked the first time since the 2005 Australian Open that Federer or Rafael Nadal did not play the title match at a Major.
In the final featuring two men chasing their maiden Grand Slam, it was Tsonga, appearing in only his 5th Major tournament who made the first breakthrough. Following an early exchange of serves, the Frenchman broke decisively to take the opener 6-4.
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Djokovic pulled back on his unforced errors in the second set and the tactic paid immediate dividends as Tsonga dropped serve at 3-3 en route to parity being restored at a set apiece. Two breaks of the Frenchman's serve in the third helped Djokovic take a crucial two sets to one lead.
But Tsonga was not done yet. The Frenchman dug deep to hold serve at 4-5 and in the next game rued not hitting the ball into the open court on set point. In the ensuing tiebreak, unforced errors continued to haunt Tsonga as Djokovic played the steadier tennis to close out a four-set win and become the 50th different Grand Slam winner in the Open Era.