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Udayan Nag
Monday , January 16, 2012 at 15 : 05

Celebrating 25 years at Melbourne Park


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The 1988 Australian Open marked a historic occasion in the tournament's history probably more so by the change in surface rather than the shift of venue, as the action moved on from the grass courts of Kooyong to the rebound ace at Flinders Park later renamed, Melbourne Park.

However, there was no change in fortunes for local favourite and 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash who ended up losing an epic five-setter for the second year running.

Having been vanquished by Sweden's Stefan Edberg the previous year 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3, Cash was pipped by Edberg's countryman Mats Wilander 6-3, 6-7, 3-6, 6-1, 8-6 who went on to lift his third Australian Open crown.

In the women's section, the young and upcoming Steffi Graf of Germany, aged 18 won the title for the first time in her career by defeating Chris Evert of the United States 6-1, 7-6.

Over the last couple of decades, the event has witnessed a number of multiple champions, Andre Agassi and Roger Federer heading the list among the men with four titles each to their name, while the ladies have had Serena Williams with five tournaments wins to her name take top honours.

Graf and Monica Seles of Croatia finished their respective careers with four titles each to their name.

However, over the years quite a few of the top players have had favourable results in the opening slam of the year.

Swiss prodigy Martina Hingis at 15, became the youngest grand slam winner by triumphing here in 1997, brushing aside Mary Pierce of France 6-2, 6-2 in the final, and then followed it up with another couple of titles in 1998 and 99.

The tournament was also the scene for Jennifer Capriati's fairytale return to the top of the women's game with back-to-back titles in 2001, 02.

The 2008 edition saw the rebound ace surface replaced by plexicushion, which was slightly faster in nature, after the previous year had seen hawk-eye, the official line-calling aid for the players being used for the first time.

Wringing in the changes is the way that the Australian Open has moved forward in the years gone by, and the coming fortnight is sure to provide the spectators with yet another spectacle to savour.


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