Men's Tennis: 5 best Australian Open finals
The Australian Open was the last of the 4 Grand Slams to be established. While the other 3 Grand Slams took shape in the 19th century, the Australian Open was first played in 1905. Initially called the Australasian Open, the Australian Open is today synonymous as the 'Grand Slam of the Asia-Pacific'. It is also noteworthy to mention that the Australian Open was the first Grand Slam to have a retractable roof covering its two primary courts - the Rod Laver Arena and the Margaret Court Arena. It is also the only Grand Slam to have been conducted in 2 different countries - Christchurch and Hastings in New Zealand have also played host to the Australian Open.
Roy Emerson, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have won the Australian Open the most number of times at 6 each. Rod Laver Arena previously called Centre Court and Flinders Park has been witness to many epic battles over the years between the sport's greatest.
We reflect back on 5 of the greatest Australian Open finals matches :
#5 John Newcombe vs Jimmy Connors (1975)
22-year-old American Jimmy Connors was dominating the men's field in 1974 and looked to carry his domination onto the 1975 season. He had won a whopping 99 of his 103 matches in 1974, including 3 Grand Slam triumphs at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He had risen to take the World No. 1 ranking.
John Newcombe, the Australian, 8 years senior to Connors, was determined to come big and make a statement of intent at the Australian Open. Connors was the defending champion but Newcombe had won the title in 1973. Newcombe was seeded 2nd and enjoyed the backing of a partisan crowd.
Newcombe had a very difficult road to the final and had to overcome fellow Australians Geoff Masters and Tony Roche in epic 5-set contests in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively. He was up against a younger Connors in the final.
After Newcombe won the first set, Connors powered his way to victory in the second set to even the match and looked to have momentum in his favor. With Connors serving at 2-3 in the 3rd set, three successive controversial line calls helped Connors take a 40-15 lead. Amid the boos from the Australian crowd, Connors lost his nerve and handed the break to Newcombe. Connors fended off one match point on the Newcombe serve to force a fourth-set tiebreaker, and Newcombe resisted one set point against him in the tiebreaker before winning the match 7–5, 3–6, 6–4, 7–6(9–7).