Australian Open 2020: History, prize money, past winners, when and where to watch

Here is the full history, most titles, prize money, timings for the Australian Open 2020 which will be played from January 20 to February 2.

Novak Djokovic has won the most number of Australian Open men's singles titles.   -  Getty Images

It’s that time of the year again when tennis stars and fans from all over the world will flock to Melbourne Park for the opening Grand Slam of the year, the Australian Open. The first Grand Slam of the new decade, which will be played from January 20 to February 2, will mark the 108th overall edition of the slam and the 52nd edition in the Open Era. While defending champion Novak Djokovic will bid for a record eighth men’s singles title, Noami Osaka would eye a repeat of 2019 in the women’s singles event.

History:

The governing body of the Australian Open is Tennis Australia, which was formerly known as the Lawn Tennis Association of Australia. (LTAA). The first edition took place in 1905 for the men’s and in 1922 for the women’s. The tournament was played on grass in its initial years and moved to hard courts from 1988 onwards. The first-ever winners were Rodney Heath and Margaret Molesworth, respectively.

Since its inception, the slam has been hosted by seven different cities in Australia and New Zealand. Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide Brisbane and Perth have hosted multiple editions in Australia, while Christchurch and Hastings hosted it once in 1906 and 1912, respectively.

The tournament started out as Australasian Championships and only became Australian Championships in 1927. It was renamed to Australian Open after the beginning of the Open Era in 1969.

Incidentally, Australia’s geographic location proved to be a big deterrent to participants, resulting in low participation. In the 1920s, a ship trip from Europe to Australia took about 45 days. The U.S. Davis Cup players were the first participants to make the long journey in 1946.

The problem was as much local as much global. Many players could not travel within the country as players had to sit through a train journey of 3,000 kilometres to get from Victoria or New South Wales to Perth.

Record Prize Money:

For 2020, the total purse has been finalised at AUD 71 million (USD 49.1 million), a 13.6 percent boost from last year.

The winners of the men’s and women’s titles at the first Grand Slam of the year will both take home AUD 4.12 million, only a small increase from a year ago.

But players beaten in earlier rounds do much better. Anyone crashing out in round one will receive AUD 90,000, up 20 percent, while second round players get a 21.9 percent hike to AUD 128,000.

When and where to watch?

The matches will take place in the Rod Laver Arena, the Margaret Court Arena, the Melbourne Arena and the outside courts.

The morning session will begin at 11 am local time, meaning viewers in India will have to tune in from 5:30 am onwards. The evening session will kick-off at 7pm in Melbourne, which is 1:30 pm IST.

In India, viewers will be able to watch the live telecast of the matches on the Sony Pictures Network (SPN) and stream the matches live on the SonyLiv app.

Most successful players at the Australian Open

On January 27, 2019, Serbian great Novak Djokovic scripted history by becoming the first player to win the men’s singles title for the seventh time. He beat Rafael Nadal 6-3,6-2, 6-2 in the final to surpass Roger Federer and Roy Emerson, who have both won six titles each. Federer, on the other hand, would look to do one better in 2020 to bag a 21st Grand Slam title.

In the women's singles category, seven-time Australian Open Champion Serena Williams will begin her campaign for a record 24th Grand Slam and become the second woman to do so after Margaret Court. Williams would have equalled Court, who has won the title 11 times, in 2019 but lost to Bianca Andreescu in the U.S. Open final.

 

Men’s:

Novak Djokovic- 7 titles (2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019)

Roger Federer- 6 titles (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017, 2018)

Roy Emerson- 6 titles (1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967)

Andre Agassi- 4 titles (1995, 2000, 2001, 2003)

Ken Rosewall- 4 titles (1953, 1955, 1971, 1972)

Jack Crawford- 4 titles (1931, 1932, 1933, 1935)

 

Women’s:

Margaret Court- 11 titles (1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1973)

Serena Williams-  7 titles (2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015, 2017)

Nancye Wynne Bolton- 6 titles ( 1937, 1940, 1946, 1947,1948, 1951)

Daphne Akhurt- 5 titles (1925, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1930)

Monica Seles- 4 titles (1991, 1992, 1993, 1996)

Steffi Graf- 4 titles (1988, 1989, 1990, 1994)

 

Two grand slams in one year:

The first and the only time in the history of the tournament when a Grand Slam was played twice in the same year was in 1977. Traditionally, the first Grand Slam of the year has been taking place in January. However, the organisers decided to shift it to December, meaning a second Australian Open took place in December 1977 after January 1977. The new schedule was followed until 1985. The event did not happen in 1986 and moved back to January from 1987 onwards.

 

List of Withdrawals:

As of 12th January, a few major names have pulled out of the tournament due to injuries or other reasons. First to withdraw his name was Andy Murray. Hoping to play his first Grand Slam after 12 months, the Brit had to pull out due to a pelvic injury. He was followed by world No.16 Kei Nishikori. The Japanese cited a right elbow injury for his withdrawal. The latest in the list of causality is Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro. The 31-year-old suffered a knee injury at the start of 2019 and mentioned that he still hasn’t been able to recover completely.

A knee injury has also gotten the better of the 2019 U.S. Open champion Bianca Andreescu. The Canadian withdrew from the upcoming slam as she still needs more time in rehab to recover completely. She joins former world No.1 VIctoria Azarenka, who decided to skip the slam due to personal reasons.

 

Other names who will be absent at the upcoming slam are:

Lucas Pouille and Richard Gasquet, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Andrea, Petkovic, Monica Puig and Vera Zvonareva.

Australian bushfire crisis

Dark clouds of doubt continue to loom over the certainty of the slam starting on time amid rampant bushfires in Australia--that have claimed the lives of more than a billion animals and displaced thousands of people from their homes.

Despite the tragedy, the members of the AO organising committee have ensured that everything will go as planned and that smoke delays will be highly unlikely.

Moreover, the tennis fraternity has come together and pledged support to the bushfire support. While Serena Williams donated her prize money from the Auckland International title, Ashleigh Barty had also donated her Brisbane International winnings.

In addition to this, Tennis Australia last week announced a fundraising exhibition match at Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena⁠—centre court at the Australian Open⁠—for January 15, the week before the opening Grand Slam of the year. The likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Williams, Naomi Osaka and Nick Kyrgios will feature in the match.