19 January - 1 February 2015
Put yourself on court with ReturnServe. From analysing returns on the court to measuring social sentiment. Data is a game changer. IBM.
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Players  |  Years  |  Events  |  Great AO Champions  |  Hall of fame |  Memorable Moments

Jack CrawfordJack Crawford
Australian Champion 1931, 1932, 1933,1935

Christened John Herbert, 'Jack', Crawford was born in Albury on 22 March 1908 and won the Australian Open four times, from 1931-33 and in 1935.

Known as Gentleman Jack because of his impeccable sportsmanship, Crawford's good looks and stylish play are credited with transforming tennis from a minor to a major Australian sport in the late 1920s. He was so poised and graceful on court that his fans claimed he could have played with a book balanced on his head.

The New South Welshman made his debut at the Australian Championships in 1927, losing an epic first round against Gar Moon.

In 1928 he reached the quarterfinal where he lost to Jean Borotra, the most accomplished international opponent he'd faced in his career to that point.
World No.1 Borotra declared his opponent a future world champion, saying he'd never seen a young player with such great ability and promise and that there were no limits to what Crawford might achieve. Three years later the Frenchman's assessment proved correct when Crawford defeated Harry Hopman in four sets to win the 1931 title, defending the crown over the same opponent in 1932.

At the peak of his powers in 1933, Crawford won his third Australian title, beating American Keith Gledhill in the final. He rolled on to victories at the French Open and Wimbledon and, at Forest Hills later that year, came within one set of becoming the first person in history to win all four majors, losing to Fred Perry in the US Championships final 3-6 13-11 6-4 0-6 1-6.

Perry underlined his dominance over Crawford in the 1934 Australian final but the Aussie turned the tables on the Brit in 1935. Winning the last of his six major singles titles 2-6 6-4 6-4 6-4, in what was his seventh appearance in the final of the championships, Crawford ultimately posted a 52-15 win-loss record at the tournament.

Roy EmersonRoy Emerson
Australian Championships 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967

Roy Emerson made an inauspicious debut at the Australian Championships in 1954, losing in the first round to George Worthington. "Apparently I lost the last two sets 6-0 6-0," says Emmo of the match. "Happily senility is setting in and I have no memory of that at all!"

Right-handed six-footer Emerson was slim, quick and famed for his fitness. He won his first major singles title in Melbourne in 1961, defeating Rod Laver in the final.

"Emerson's victory will be widely toasted tonight in the little town of Blackbutt, 100 miles north-west of Brisbane where the bronzed super-fit new champion first started the long climb to tennis stardom," reported the Melbourne Age.

While it was the first of seven-consecutive singles finals appearances Down Under, it was another two years before Emerson tasted Grand Slam glory again.

Resisting the lure of the professional tour, Emerson's victory over countryman Ken Fletcher in Adelaide in 1963 was the first of five-straight men's singles titles at the Australian Championships.

His victory over Fred Stolle in the 1964 final marked the start of an outstanding year on the amateur circuit during which he notched up a 55-match winning streak, ascended to the world No.1 spot and won 17 tournaments including Wimbledon and the US Championships.

Emerson's 1966 6-4 6-8 6-2 6-3 final win over Arthur Ashe was billed as the 'Match of the Year' by the media. He had to fight hard to reach the same stage in 1967, taking 83 games and nearly four hours to battle past Tony Roche in the semifinal before crushing Ashe (who'd endured his own four hour semifinal) 6-4 6-1 6-4.

Winning his record sixth Australian title (and eleventh singles major) in 1967, Emerson broke Bill Tilden's record of 10, and went on to win his twelfth major at Roland Garros to set a benchmark that lasted until Pete Sampras recorded his thirteenth Slam win at Wimbledon in 2000.

He remains the only male player in history to have won singles and doubles titles at all four majors and he holds a record 28 Slam titles in total.

Ken RosewellKen Rosewall
Australian champion 1953, 1955, 1971

Legendary for his perfect backhand, his nickname (Muscles - an ironic -reference to his slight frame), and his on-court agility, four-time Australian champion Ken Rosewall is probably most famous for the longevity of his campaign Down Under.

In 1953 Rosewall's parents listened on the radio as the 18-year-old No.3 seed became the tournament's youngest champion with a 6-0 6-3 6-4 victory over Mervyn Rose. It Rosewall's first Grand Slam title and he met his future wife, Wilma, during the Melbourne event.

Rosewall won his second Australian title in 1955 in Adelaide. Having spent the morning of the final watching Australia play England in the fourth test at the Adelaide Oval, he dashed over to Memorial Drive and beat Lew Hoad 9-7 6-4 6-4 before returning to watch the cricket until stumps.

Turning professional in 1957, the New South Welshman didn't play the tournament again until 1969 when he reached the third round.

Although now old enough to be classed a veteran, Rosewall rated the 1971 event played in Sydney (the last to be played outside Melbourne) as the best grass court performance of his career. He attributed his third title to the serve-volley game he'd developed as a pro, beating Arthur Ashe 6-1 7-5 6-3 in the final, and not dropping a set the entire tournament.

He defended the title in 1972, defeating Mal Anderson 7-6 6-3 7-5 in the final for his fourth and last Australian trophy - a win for the record books. At 37 years and two months Rosewall was the tournament's oldest champion, the combined age of the two finalists (73) was a tournament record and the 19-year-span between Rosewall's first and last title was a Grand Slam record.

The Sydney-sider played his last Australian match as a 43-year-old in 1978, reaching the third round. To honour his extraordinary career, on December 9 2008 the centre court at Sydney Olympic Park was renamed Ken Rosewall Arena.

Rod LaverRod Laver
Australian champion 1960, 1962, 1969

Rod Laver remembers his first Australian title in 1960 as: "a bit of a struggle".
In the pre-tiebreak era, he had to battle his way through an 11-9 set against Warren Jacques in round two, an 8-6 set against Ken Fletcher in the quarterfinal and a 9-7 set against Roy Emerson in the semifinal.

In the decider the Rockhampton Rocket gave Neale Fraser a two-set head start, fighting back only to face match points trailing 4-5 in the fifth. He hung on, breaking back to level the match and eventually running out the champion 5-7 3-6 6-3 8-6 8-6.

Laver's 1962 Australian title represented the first leg of his first calendar year Grand Slam and marked what he described as "a life changing run of success". Having beaten Roy Emerson 8-6 0-6 6-4 6-4 on a windy White City centre court, the Queenslander went on to win the French Open and Wimbledon titles, sealing the deal at Forest Hills in New York to become the first man since Don Budge to accomplish a Slam.

Turning pro, Laver had to skip Australia until tennis went 'Open' in 1969. Playing in his home state at the Milton Tennis Centre, he again found things tough going - this time because of the weather conditions. Heavy rain delayed early matches and when Queensland's hot, humid climate kicked in Laver found himself playing overtime, beating Fred Stolle and Emerson in the space of 24 hours.

With only a handful of spectators willing to brave the heat, Laver battled through a four-hour five-set semifinal against Tony Roche before defeating Andres Gimeno 6-3 6-4 7-5 for the trophy. It was his last Australian title and the start of another historic sweep of the majors for Laver, the only man in history to have achieved a double Slam.

In 2000, Melbourne Park's centre court was re-named Rod Laver Arena, the modest star saying: "I could never have dreamt that my name would end up on the stadium".

Mats WilanderMats Wilander
Australian Open champion 1983, 1984, 1988

Australian Open 1983 is widely regarded as the tournament at which Swede Mats Wilander learned to volley.

Played on grass at Kooyong, the baseliner's attacking play improved noticeably over the tournament fortnight and by the latter stages he was out-volleying renowned net specialists including Paul McNamee in the fourth round, defending champion Johan Kriek in the quarterfinal and John McEnroe in the semifinal.

In the final the 19-year-old faced another baseline specialist, Ivan Lendl, defeating the Czech 6-1 6-4 6-4 to claim what was his ninth title of the season.

The victory made Wilander the youngest Australian Open champion since Ken Rosewall in 1953.

Wilander's grass court credentials established, he was seeded No.2 going into Australian Open 1984. This time his title campaign was more straightforward. He dropped one set in his quarterfinal against Stefan Edberg and again trampled Kriek's hopes, this time crushing the South African 6-1 6-0 6-2 in a 63-minute semifinal. The final was tougher, the Swede coming back to overcome Kevin Curren 6-7(5) 6-4 7-6(3) 6-2.

Seeded No.3 behind Edberg and Lendl, and with four years since he last held the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, Wilander wasn't really viewed as a serious contender as Australian Open 1988 kicked off at its new venue, Flinders Park. Nevertheless, the Swede reached his semifinal without dropping a set and raced to a 6-3 4-1 lead in the final against Pat Cash before rain stopped play.

Cash fought back, taking the second and third sets before slumping in the fourth. The fifth set was a knock-down, drag out affair that saw Wilander save two match points before running out the winner 6-3, 6-7, 3-6, 6-1, 8-6 in four hours and 28-minutes.

The victory made him the first man since Jimmy Connors to win Grand Slam titles on grass, clay and hard courts and the first non-Australian to win three titles at the tournament where he ultimately accumulated a 36-7 win-loss record.

Andre AgassiAndre Agassi
Australian champion 1995, 2000, 2001, 2003

If "Aussie Kim" Clijsters had an adopted brother he would surely be Andre Agassi.

The American made a debut befitting his flamboyant reputation in Melbourne in 1995. He was at the centre of the Rod Laver Arena flood drama, his semifinal against Aaron Krickstein interrupted as rainwater poured down from the stands in torrents. And his final against Pete Sampras was equally dramatic, the newbie defeating the defending champion 4-6 6-1 7-6(6) 6-4 for his second-consecutive Slam title.

It was another five years before Agassi reclaimed the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, winning a classic 6-4 3-6 6-7(0) 7-6(5) 6-1 stouch with old rival Sampras in the semifinal before beating Kafelnikov 3-6 6-3 6-2 6-4 in the final.

The proud owner of five Grand Slam trophies, Agassi made his first title defense of his career at Australian Open 2001. And, while his final against Arnaud Clement was a one-sided affair, his semifinal against Pat Rafter was an all-time tournament classic.

In a night match played in stifling conditions, the Las Vegas showman trailed one set to two before coming back to defeat Rafter - who fell victim to cramp in the humid conditions - in five sets.

Agassi was absent in 2002 but returned triumphantly in 2003, dropping only 19 games in the last three rounds of the tournament, ultimately defeating Rainer Schuettler 6-1 6-2 6-1 for the title.

"I'll never forget being here, I'll never forget playing for you and I'll never forget the support and the love I've always felt coming down here," said Agassi after claiming his Australian trophy. "I feel like I'm half Australian."

It turned out to be Agassi's eighth and last Slam title. He reached the semifinal in 2004 and played his last Australian Open match in 2005, fittingly a quarterfinal against Roger Federer, posting a remarkable 48-5 win-loss record at the tournament.

Roger FedererRoger Federer
Australian champion 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010

Still mid-career, Roger Federer has already created a memorable legacy at the Australian Open. He made his Melbourne debut in 2000 reaching the third round, and has never fallen short of that performance in eight appearances Down Under.

Dressed in his trademark red shirt and white headband, Federer's victory over Marat Safin in the 2004 final was the second Grand Slam title of his career and secured his place in history as the first Swiss man to win an Australian Open trophy. It elevated him to the world No.1 ranking setting him on the path to another record, his 237-week reign from that point making him the longest-serving world No.1 in history.

After losing to Safin in the semifinal of Australian Open 2005, throwing away a match point in the fourth set tiebreak with a dubious between the legs shot, Federer returned in 2006 to win the title over Marcos Baghdatis. The occasion, which saw Federer drop the first set to the Cypriot before winning 5-7 7-5 6-0 6-2, was momentous, the Swiss man weeping as his hero Rod Laver presented him with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup. "I hope you know how much this means to me," he sobbed wiping tears from his eyes.

The win made him the first since Pete Sampras in 1994 to win three-consecutive majors and was Federer's seventh Slam title, tying him with John McEnroe, John Newcombe and Mats Wilander.

Federer's third Australian title in 2007 was remarkable, not so much by the nature of his victory as by the records he set as a result of his 7-6(2) 6-4 6-4 win over Fernando Gonzalez. His tenth major, Federer became the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1980 to win a Grand Slam without dropping a set.

The triumph marked the start of a winning spree that also saw him claim the 2007 Wimbledon and US Open titles, making him the only man to perform that triple feat three times (in 2004, 06 and 07).

Federer's fourth Australian Open crown in 2010 was particularly special, the Swiss maestro capturing his 16th major title to put him two ahead of Pete Sampras and further establish himself as one of the game's greats. He also became the first father to win a Grand Slam since Andre Agassi in 2003 and the fifth man in the tournament's history to win the trophy four times.

Daphne AkhurstDaphne Akhurst
Australian Champion 1925, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1930

Born in Sydney on 22 April 1903, Daphne Akhurst achieved much during her tragically short life, winning five Australian singles titles and nine Australian doubles titles between 1924 and 1931.

Making her debut at the tournament in 1924, Akhurst reached the second round where she fell to Esna Boyd. That match saw the dawning of a rivalry that spanned five years until Boyd's retirement in 1928.

Akhurst exacted revenge over her adversary the following year, claiming her first Australian Championship title after a nervous start 1-6 8-6 6-4 in the pre-tiebreak era.

The New South Welshwoman backed up her win in 1926 with a more straightforward 6-1 6-3 victory, illness partially to blame for her three-set concession of the 1927 final that afforded Boyd her only Australian title.

The pair's 1928 final showdown was described by the Argus newspaper as "as fine an exhibition of women's tennis as has been seen in Australia for some time." Akhurst's steady style of play comprehensively outfoxed hard-hitting Boyd, earning her a 7-5 6-2 victory and her third Australian title. She became the first Aussie woman to reach the world top 10 the same year, peaking at No.3.

Scoring finals victories over Louie Bickerton in 1929 and Sylvia Harper in 1930, Akhurst cemented her status as Australia's most prolific champion of the era. Today she ranks third on the Australian all-time singles champion list behind Margaret Court and Nancye Wynne Bolton.

Married, Akhurst won her last Australian title - the women's doubles with Bickerton - in 1931 as Mrs Roy Cozens. Two years later, in 1933, she suffered an ectopic pregnancy and died aged 29.

The Australian Open women's singles trophy is named the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup in her honour.

Joan Hartigan
Australian Champion 1933, 1934, 1936

One of the first players to be known to fans by her Christian name (rather than as Miss or Mrs), Joan Hartigan made her debut at the Australian Championships as a junior in 1931.

Born on 6 June 1912, Hartigan was an exuberant player idolised by school children who loved her hard-hitting forehand and light-hearted approach to the game. Her style was also remarkable because the tall, slim player hit what was known as an 'upside down backhand'; stroking the shot with the same face of the racquet that she hit her forehand.

She made her senior debut at the tournament in 1931 as well, losing in the first round to Marjorie Crawford, before returning in 1933 to take the title for the first time over Coral Buttsworth 6-4 6-3 in Melbourne.

Hartigan backed up her victory in 1934, defeating Margaret Molesworth 6-1 6-4 in the singles final and teaming with Gar Moon in the mixed doubles to also take that title in the tournament played in Sydney. It was the start of a fruitful year for Hartigan, the New South Welshwoman becoming the first Aussie woman to make an international impact when she reached the Wimbledon semifinal later that year.

Skipping the 1935 tournament (the year in which she later reached her second Wimbledon semifinal), Hartigan won her third Australian singles title in 1936 defeating Nancye Wynne 6-4 6-4 in the championship match.

While she continued to contest the event up until the World War II break, reaching the semifinal of the eight-woman draw in 1939 and 1940, she never won the trophy again and didn't return to the sport after the war years. Ranked in the top 10 in 1934, Hartigan reached her career-high ranking of No.8 that year and was also a top 10 player in 1935. She died on 31 August 2000.

Nancye Wynne BoltonNancye Wynne Bolton
Australian Champion 1937, 1940, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1951

The Australian Championships' second most successful female champion in history, Nancye Wynne was born on 10 June 1916 in Melbourne.

Her dominance of the tournament spanned World War II and she was rated by fellow Aussie John Bromwich as "our best, even though the war cut into her prime years and she didn't have many opportunities to travel".

Despite the restrictions of the era Wynne managed to reach the final of the tournament eight times in a campaign spanning 16 years, the first coming in Adelaide in 1936 when, aged 19, she fell 6-4 6-4 to Joan Hartigan. She won the title 6-3 5-7 6-4 over Emily Westacott in 1937 and again in 1940, defeating Thelma Coyne 5-7 6-4 6-0 before the war pressed the pause button on her career and the sport as a whole.

Returning to competition in 1946, a war widow and playing under the surname of her late husband Sgt George Bolton, Nancye exerted a stranglehold on the Australian title winning three in a row with ruthless victories over Joyce Fitch, Nell Hopman and Marie Toomey. The Adelaide Advertiser said of her 6-4 6-4 win over Fitch that Bolton displayed "a brand of tennis which places her in a class of her own among women players in Australia".

American Doris Hart broke the Aussie's winning streak in 1949, taking the trophy match 6-3 6-4 but Bolton was not done with her home tournament, winning the Sydney event in 1951 to complete her collection of six Australian singles titles for an eventual win-loss record of 41-5.

And she wasn't just a solo success, amassing a further 14 Australian titles in the doubles arena, 10 in women's doubles partnering Thelma Long, and four in the mixed.

Margaret CourtMargaret Court
Australian champion 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1969, 1970, 1971,1973

With 11 Australian singles, and five doubles, titles to her name Margaret Court (nee Smith) is arguably the greatest female player in the tournament's history. While not all her victories were earned in the Open era, no other player has dominated Down Under in the way that Court did in the 1960s and '70s.
Making her debut in Adelaide in 1959 aged 17, Margaret Smith was the youngest player in the tournament's history losing in the second round to eventual champion and No.4 seed Mary Reitano.

In Brisbane in 1960 Smith lost the final of the girls' singles to Lesley Bowrey, only to win the women's singles the next day over Jan Lehane. That victory was the first of seven-straight Australian Open singles titles for the Albury-born Aussie.

The hype surrounding Smith's 1965 final against Maria Bueno inspired organisers to schedule the match on Kooyong's centre court, striking a blow for equality in an era when the women's decider was typically banished outside.

In 1967, with seven titles to her credit, Smith took a year off and married Barry Court. She returned as Margaret Court in 1968, losing to Billie Jean King in the final before returning to her winning ways in Brisbane in 1969, avenging the 1968 loss by defeating King 6-4 6-1 in the final.

That victory marked the start of a Grand Slam gallop, the 27-year-old winning in Sydney in 1970 to kick off her sweep of that year's majors, and claiming the Australian Open trophy at the same venue in 1971.

In 1972 Court took time off for the birth of her first child, Daniel, returning to the tour in 1973 to claim her 11th and last Australian Open singles title.

She made her final appearance at the tournament in 1975, losing in the quarterfinal to a young Martina Navratilova. "By then I had won everything and achieved all my goals," she said.

In 2003 Australian Open organisers renamed Show Court One Margaret Court Arena in recognition of her incredible achievements.

Evonne Goolagong CawleyEvonne Goolagong Cawley
Australian champion 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977

On arriving in Melbourne for the 1974 championships Evonne Goolagong Cawley must have wondered what it took to win her home Grand Slam title. The 23-year-old had already made three-consecutive finals appearances, falling twice to Margaret Court (in 1971 and '73) and once to Virginia Wade (in 1972).

It might have been a long time coming, but once Goolagong Cawley solved the Australian Open puzzle there was no stopping her. Her first victory at the 1974 championships was a hard-fought affair, the Sydneysider winning through three-setters in the quarterfinals, semifinals and final, which was against Chris Evert in the first championship match of the pair's great rivalry.

Played in oppressive heat and humidity, Goolagong Cawley took a shower between the second and third sets, returning to claim the title with her trademark wet handkerchief tied around her neck.

Prior to the 1975 tournament Goolagong Cawley suffered an off-court blow when her father Ken was killed in a car accident. And, while she didn't drop a set en route to her 6-3 6-2 defeat of Martina Navratilova in the final, the strain showed during the presentation ceremony with the 24-year-old weeping on her coach Vic Edwards' shoulder.

The winning formula now clearly in her possession, Goolagong Cawley coasted through the extreme temperatures and gale force winds that challenged during Australian Open 1976, turning in another set-perfect score sheet and defeating Renata Tomanova 6-2 6-2 in the final.

Pregnant with her daughter Kelly, Goolagong Cawley missed the January 1977 edition of the Australian Open, returning for the December installment of the tournament to again claim victory, this time over Helen Gourlay, and become the first mother in the Open era to win a Grand Slam title.

It was the last time Goolagong Cawley made the final of her home tournament although she played on a further three occasions. When she finally waved goodbye to her fans she owned an impressive 39-9 win-loss record.

Martina NavratilovaMartina Navratilova
Australian champion 1981, 1983, 1985

Longevity was the name of the game for Martina Navratilova at the Australian Open. She made her debut as tournament top seed in 1980, losing to Wendy Turnbull in the semifinal, and played her last doubles matches in Melbourne in 2005, reaching the mixed semifinal with Max Mirnyi and the women's doubles quarterfinal with Daniela Hantuchova.

Having aacclimatised to Kooyong's grass courts in 1980, the Czech-born American returned in 1981 to claim her first Australian title over Chris Evert in a match that perfectly showcased their burgeoning rivalry.

The 6-7(4) 6-4 7-5 scoreline was, at that stage, the most games played in a women's singles final in the Open era and the match signalled the start of the pair's five-year timeshare of the title.

Evert reversed the result in the 1982 final but was absent in 1983, raising Navratilova's hopes of an easy passage. British No.1 Jo Durie clearly had other ideas in their quarterfinal, using her big serve to push the world No.1 to the brink of defeat in a rain delayed match played over two days.

Surviving, Navratilova faced Kathy Jordan in the final, her 6-2 7-6(5) victory her 50th singles win on the bounce. Navratilova also won the doubles title with Pam Shriver in 1983, becoming only the third woman in the Open era (after Court and Goolagong Cawley) to do the Australian Open double.

The 28-year-old rounded off a hat trick of Australian Open singles titles in 1985, again battling Evert for honors in a 6-2 4-6 6-2 thriller and, while her Australian Open singles tally stopped there, she also amassed eight women's doubles titles (all but the first, in 1980, with Shriver), and one mixed doubles title (with Leander Paes in 2003).

Her final singles appearance, a quarterfinal loss to Helena Sukova in 1989, was only her seventh defeat at the tournament at which she had won a total of 45 singles matches.

Steffi GrafSteffi Graf
Australian champion 1988, 1989, 1990, 1994

The inauguration of the Australian Open's new home Flinders Park in 1988 marked an upswing in Steffi Graf's Australian Open fortunes. Having been knocked out of the 1983 tournament in the first round by Liz Smylie, the Bruhl-born18-year-old hardly broke a sweat on her way to the 1988 final - a showdown against Chris Evert.

With rain in the air and Steffi leading 2-1 in the first set the heavens opened. After a 90-minute delay organisers closed the new centre court's state-of-the-art sliding roof, Steffi adapting rapidly to win the next nine-straight games.

Evert, in what turned out to be her 34th and last appearance in a Slam final, fought back to 6-5 but was ultimately unable to fend off the German. Graf took the title 6-1 7-6(3), claiming the first leg of the 'Golden Grand Slam' that included all four majors and a gold medal at the Atlanta Olympics.

Peppering the lines with her lethal forehand, Steffi made even quicker work of her second Australian Open title in 1989, reaching the final for the loss of 16 games. Played in 38-degree temperatures against Helena Sukova the decider was a close contest, but Steffi rose to the Czech's challenge winning 6-4 6-4.

Bidding for her third-consecutive AO title in 1990, Graf faced her good friend and doubles partner Mary Joe Fernandez in the final. Steady Fernandez earned a 4-1 lead in the second set, after which Graf didn't concede another game. Claiming her eighth Grand Slam title, 6-2 6-4, Steffi insisted she still had "many things to learn" in her post-match press conference.

Graf didn't make another finals appearance in Melbourne until 1994 when she inflicted the Australian Open's fastest final beating in history on Spaniard Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, 6-0 6-2. The match secured Steffi's 80th singles title and rounded off a non-calendar year Grand Slam. She played in Melbourne for the last time in 1999, retiring later that year with a 47-6 record to her name.

Monica SelesMonica Seles
Australian champion 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996

The Australian Open has seen some great comebacks; think Capriati's back-to-back titles in 2001 and 2002, Sampras clawing back to defeat Courier in their 1995 semifinal and Cawley's 1977 post-pregnancy victory. Perhaps the most amazing comeback of all belongs to Monica Seles, however.

Seles made her debut Down Under in 1991 ranked No.1 in the world, winning the tournament at her first attempt for the loss of one set (against Chanda Rubin in the semifinal). In 1992 Seles beat two-time finalist Mary Joe Fernandez for the title and in 1993, her rivalry with Steffi Graf at full throttle, she took down the German 4-6 6-3 6-2, equalling Court and Cawley's triple crowns of the 1970s.

But Seles' dream run turned into a nightmare in April 1993 when she was stabbed in the back by a fanatical Graf fan during a quarterfinal in Hamburg. At the peak of her game, she was sidelined for two years recovering from the physical and mental scars of the incident, not returning to Australian Open competition until 1996.

It was like she had never been away, the Yugoslav-born American 22-year-old cruising through the opening rounds of the tournament and fighting back from a set down against Rubin in the semifinal to take that match in three. In the final Seles defeated Anke Huber of Germany 6-4 6-2. It was the last Grand Slam title of her career and represented an incredible 32-match Australian Open winning streak.

After missing the tournament in 1997 and 1998, Seles raised that tally to 37-consecutive match victories in 1999, losing to eventual champion Martina Hingis in the semifinal. Skipping the tournament again in 2000, she was a quarterfinalist in 2001, a semifinalist in 2002 and played her last Melbourne match in 2003, losing to qualifier Kara Koukalova in the second round to post a formidable win-loss record of 43-4 at the Australian Open.

Martina HingisMartina Hingis
Australian champion 1997, 1998, 1999

If the Australian Open was a prosperous hunting ground for Martina Hingis then she repaid the favor in spades, treating fans to six finals appearances, a hat trick of titles between 1997 and 1999, and a blockbuster championship match in 2002.

Born on 30 September 1980 in Kosice, Slovakia, child tennis prodigy Hingis was named after tennis legend Martina Navratilova.

Making her AO debut in 1995, the Swiss Miss was the youngest player to win a round at a Grand Slam. In 1996 aged 15 she reached the quarterfinal and, her apprenticeship served, came back the very next year seeded No.4 and ready to conquer.

Beating Mary Pierce 6-2 6-2 in the final of Australian Open 1997, Hingis didn't drop a set en route to the title, becoming the youngest player in the 20th century (at 16 years, three months and 26 days) to win a major.

Hingis returned in 1998 seeded No.1, crushing Conchita Martinez 6-3 6-3 in 86 minutes and earning her place in the history books as the youngest player in the Open era to defend a Slam title.

Aged 18, Hingis dropped one set in securing her triple crown in 1999, celebrating with champagne at Brighton Beach's multi-coloured bathing boxes.

While her three-year monopoly of the Open was impressive, Hingis' most memorable match in Melbourne was probably her 2002 final against Jennifer Capriati. The Swiss woman led a set and 4-0, holding four match points before letting Capriati level the match.

Fading in the vicious 52-degree heat the players were given 10 minutes to cool off in ice vests before resuming hostilities. While Hingis took a 2-1 lead in the third, the conditions had taken their toll and she didn't win another game, gallantly conceding 4-6 7-6(7) 6-2.

Following a three-year injury break from the game Hingis returned to Melbourne in 2006 and 2007, making the quarterfinals on both occasions, and rounding off a 52-7 win-loss record before retiring permanently.

Serena WilliamsSerena Williams
Australian champion 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010

By 2003 members of the tennis community would have been forgiven for thinking they'd seen every possible permutation of the Grand Slam. Over the years fans had witnessed double Slams (Rod Laver), doubles Slams (Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver), non-calendar year Slams (Navratilova) and Golden Slams (Steffi Graf). Leave it to Venus' little sister to find a new way to rock the majors.

Backing up 2002 victories at the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open, she secured her first Australian Open in 2003 for a set of four she dubbed the 'Serena Slam'.

"Really only a handful of people have been able to do it, I guess it's a really special feeling," said Serena after defeating her sister in the final, insisting a non-calendar Slam carried as much credibility as a calendar one. "In order to win four in a row…you have to be pretty serious. I think that anyone would want to say they were (holder of a Grand Slam) if they won four in a row."

Born in Saginaw, Michigan on 26 September 1981, Serena was 22-years-old when she won the fifth major of her career in Melbourne, but amazingly her version of the sport's greatest achievement wasn't her biggest claim to Australian Open fame.

That came four years later in 2007 when, unseeded, ranked No.81 in the world and a way off peak fitness, she steamrollered six seeds to become the third-lowest ranked player in history to win a Grand Slam title. Twice, against Nadia Petrova and Shahar Peer, Serena stood just points from defeat only to battle through, ultimately crushing world No.1 Maria Sharapova 6-1 6-2 in the final, shocking all but the champion herself.

"Like I always say, if I'm playing good, it's hard for anyone. Doesn't matter what they're ranked," she said of the victory that catapulted her back up the rankings to No.14 and reestablished her as a title contender.

The 2009 tournament saw Serena continue her streak of winning the Australian Open in odd-numbered years, following her victories in 2003, 2005 and 2007. This time, as the No.2 seed, her dominant performance came as no surprise. Upon reaching the quarterfinals, Williams faced a Russian at each subsequent hurdle; after squeezing past Svetlana Kuznetsova in three sets, the American waltzed through her semifinal, crushing Elena Dementieva 6-3 6-4. Pitted against No.1 seed Dinara Safina for the title, Williams produced a stunning display in conceding just three games to her bewildered opponent, taking her fourth Australian Open. In doing so, she joined Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Monica Seles and Steffi Graf as the only women to have lifted the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Trophy four times in the Open Era. Aged just 27 years old at the time, Williams cemented her place amongst the champions of the Australian Open, as well as indicating that she was not finished just yet. "I feel I can go forever. I talk to Venus, and we're always like, 'We're going to play forever.' I definitely feel like I have so many years to play," she said after the win, her tenth major title.

Serena's win in 2010 was significant for the American as she ended her pattern of winning in Australia in odd number years. The defending champion claimed her twelfth Grand Slam title over arch rival Justine Henin in three tough sets. It was the first time the two had played against each other in a Grand Slam final.

Post-Tournament
Monday, 20 October 2014
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