The Australian Open has, over the years, been the curtain-raiser to the grueling tennis season. The Australian Open is probably the only Grand Slam where players face extreme heat as it falls during the peak summer season Down Under. Temperatures can rise up to 45°C which is roughly 113°F. The harsh weather conditions make it really hard for the players to adapt.
Held for the first time in 1905, the Australian Open has grown leaps and bounds in terms of popularity and is presently the largest sporting event in the Southern Hemisphere generating significant revenue through tourism for Australia.
The Grand Slam was the first among the Grand Slams to have a retractable roof at the famous Rod Laver Arena and later the Margaret Court Arena. Initially known as the Australasian Championships, the Australian Open is the only Grand Slam to have been played across 7 cities in 2 different countries.
Sydney, Perth, Adelaide, Brisbane, Christchurch, Hastings, and Melbourne have all played host to this Grand Slam event. The winner of the Men's Singles competition is presented with a replica of the 'Norman Brookes Challenge Cup'.
We revisit history as we take a look at 5 great Grand Slam champions who astonishingly never won the Australian Open.
#5 Pat Rafter
Since Mark Edmondson won the Australian Open in 1976, Australia has not had one of their own lift the trophy. The drought continues to last 42 years and counting. However, there was no dearth of tennis talent in Australia as more than half a dozen men have all been contenders. One such tennis great was Pat Rafter.
After winning his Grand Slam at the 1997 US Open, the Australian public found a new hero whom they believed could break the long-standing jinx. Rafter enjoyed tremendous success in the late 90's capturing his second US Open in 1998.
Despite being cheered by an entire nation, Rafter did not translate his success in the hard courts of New York to victory at the Australian Open. His best result came in 2001 when he made the semis and lost to eventual champion Andre Agassi despite leading two sets to one. Rafter, however, won the Doubles crown at Melbourne in the year 1999 along with partner Jonas Bjorkman.