5 players who made their Grand Slam breakthrough at the Australian Open
- Meet the last 5 players to make their Grand Slam breakthrough at the Australian Open
For the first few years in the Open Era, the Australian Open suffered from the lack of participation by top-ranked players due to its general geographical isolation and the inconvenient scheduling of the event. It was too close to the Christmas / New Year holiday period, and many stars chose to skip it.
Things looked to have taken a turn in the right direction when future No. 1 Jimmy Connors made his Grand Slam breakthrough Down Under in 1974. But it would be almost a decade before the Australian Open became a true global event, when the likes of Ivan Lendl, Mats Wilander and John McEnroe landed on Australian shores in 1983.
This necessitated the shifting of the tournament to a bigger arena for catering to the increased inflow of players and spectators alike. A year after shifting to Melbourne Park Arena in 1987, the tournament transitioned to hardcourt - after being contested on grass for eight decades.
Of the 54 players in the Open Era to have won a Grand Slam title, Novak Djokovic (7) and Roger Federer (6) lead a group of 26 players to have triumphed in Melbourne. 11 players have made their Grand Slam breakthrough at the Australian Open.
On that note, let us meet the last 5 players to have done so at the first Grand Slam tournament on the tennis calendar.
#5 Stefan Edberg - 1985
The only player to win the junior calendar-year Grand Slam (1983), Stefan Edberg arrived at the 1985 Australian Open fresh off winning the gold medal at the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles.
Making his third appearance at the Australian Open, and 8th overall at a Grand Slam tournament, Edberg beat John Lloyd in straight sets in the quarterfinal. He then recovered from a two sets to one deficit in the semifinal before downing Ivan Lendl 9-7 in the fifth set.
In the title clash against two-time defending champion and fellow countryman Mats Wilander, Edberg took the first two sets to assume cruise control of the contest. Refusing to relinquish his ascendancy in the match, two breaks followed in the third set as Edberg ended the two-year Australian Open reign of his countryman.
In the process, the then 19-year-old became only the second teenager in the Open Era to triumph at the Australian Open, and the 24th player to lift a Grand Slam title.