Australian Open Pre-1988

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by AngieB, Sep 7, 2013.

  1. AngieB

    AngieB Hall of Fame

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    Most participants in this forum understand the dismal conditions of the facilities that the Australian Open provided before their move to Melbourne Park (hardcourt) in 1988. Many of the best players in the world would not attend and even the press complained about blemished conditions of the press area.

    Given the tennis champions Australia has produced over the decades, why did Australia wait until 1988 to improve the Australian Open to a world-class tennis facility?

    AngieB
     
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  2. newpball

    newpball Legend

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    One word: money.
     
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  3. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    1983

    1983 was the year that top quality players started coming back to the AO.
     
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  4. Tamiya

    Tamiya Semi-Pro

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    In oz tennis is overshadowed in sport popularity (= TV time =ad$$$) by
    Aust Rules football (winter) & cricket (summer). Probably behind rugby
    and then maybe the Socceroo's & Hockeyroo's antics too.

    Then you've got the spectator sports like V8 Supercars series gunning for
    broadcast tv time; we get F1 telecast live (& rerun later if its a bad time slot)
    every race but no tennis.

    At all!

    On FreeToAir tv.

    Oh sure during AO it's on every evening for whole fortnight but absolutely
    nothing for any other Slam... no FO & I had to fly to Asia for wimby.
    No USO either afaik, not even just final/s. :(

    It is broadcast on PayTV but since there's only a duo/monopoly their prices
    are unjustifiable to install & subscribe whole year just to watch a few hrs...
    Cheaper to buy plane ticket to singapore!!

    Ah well, new season & we have a new Prime Minister this morning.
    Like the Opposition getting into power is gunna make any difference,
    but we'll see -can only hope for the best.

    Ha.
     
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  5. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    There were, however, great AO tournaments in the dark ages that stretch from the early 70´s till the early 80´s.The 1975 tournament, had John Newcombe,Jimmy Connors and Tony Roche in the semifinals.In 1977, Tanner,Vilas,Rosewall,Gerulaitis took part and in 1980 the draw looked very solid with Gerulaitis,Lendl,Clerc,Vilas,Gottfried,Noah,Pecci and Mc Namara looking for the last available points to enter the oncoming Masters tournament.It was so surprising that none of them even reached the finals, where Brian Teacher defeated Kim Warwick.

    But I tend to agree that, the first truly good year for AO after the 1970´s was 1983.By the late 80´s, it had regained basically his prestige and , since the WCT disappeared in 1989, it could really claim that it was a major tournament again.
     
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  6. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    The funny thing is that in some of the same years that the big name players were skipping the Australian Open, they were still happy to travel down to Australia in other months to play at the the Sydney Indoor, Sydney AKAI Gold Challenge and Melbourne Mazda Challenge events.
     
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  7. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    Money...and it was no Christmas.
     
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  8. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    Yes and that further goes to show just how ridiculous it is for people to use the grand slam title count as the be all and end all in historical comparisons.
     
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  9. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Australians could turn out in droves for special tennis events.
    The major Aussie stadiums were filled with ticket-buyers for the great pro series of the late fifties, and Kooyong and White City had to stage two events on successive days to satisfy the customers.
     
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  10. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    In fact 81 AO was a thrilling tournament
    None of the top 10 seededs got to semis except Vilas whom Warwick deprived of a possible third title in row
    Warwick could reach his great talent on rare ocassions
    The other time he delivered was the 82 Us Open when he made the qf after beating top ten players Noah and Clerc
     
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  11. DMP

    DMP Semi-Pro

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    Exactly. There were lots of important tournaments in Australia. It is just that the AO wasn't seen as one of them.

    In the early years of Open tennis all the Open tournaments were a bit overshadowed by new money tournaments. Also, before the advent of easy plane travel (let's put it at around 1970 when the first 747 went into passenger sevice) Australia was a long way away, so money spoke big time.

    People forget how the Aussies of the 50s and 60s were young men who basically left home to travel to Europe and North America for the tennis season, and said goodbye to their families and loved ones for many months, or even years because there was no easy communication. Apart from being great tennis players they were mentally as tough as they come.
     
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  12. bluetrain4

    bluetrain4 Legend

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    Yes. It should be noted that although the move to Melbourne Park was in 1988, the AO fields were fairly strong at Kooyong in few years before the move. Not the strongest ever, but much, much better than they had been.
     
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  13. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    The Australian Open definitely made a huge recovery from 1983, but I still don't think it was on a par with the other 3 slams until 1988, when it finally had a 128 player draw.

    From 1983-1987, the event still had a smaller draw size than the other 3 slams (96 players), less ranking points, terrible facilities and less prize money. Lendl said in his 1983 runners-up speech that he wasn't sure if he'd go back there the next year (although he did) and I've heard Edberg say in the past that he considered his 1988 Wimbledon title to have been his first 'real' slam win. Plus McEnroe said he was offered appearance money to participate at the event one year, I wouldn't be surprised if that was in 1983 when he played there for the first time.
     
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2013
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  14. Goosehead

    Goosehead Hall of Fame

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    ^^^yes appearance money must have played a part as well as moving the tourney from its disaster position of over Christmas and the new year..

    that's got to be one of the worst decisions ever..having a tourney in the 1970s over Christmas and the new year on the other side of the world..:confused:

    guess whats going to happen..?? a big no-show is going to happen. :?

    in 1983 a bet the organisers offered a lot of appearance incentives because all of a sudden after they moved it back to november up popped lendl McEnroe and wilander..

    ..and *drum roll n fanfare of trumpets*..some much needed credibility is v much in evidence.
     
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  15. Gizo

    Gizo Hall of Fame

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    Good points.

    It's funny to think about Connors's comment in 1978, 'I'll chase that son a ***** Borg to the ends of the earth' which of course was in relation to him turning up at the AO that year to try and stop Borg if the grand slam was on the line. He, like other players considered Australia to be so far away that it was at the ends of the earth, and was only going to play there if it suited his schedule and/or more importantly was offered a ton of money to do so.

    Exactly. Appearance money was under hushed up and under the table pre-1990, but everyone knew the best players were receiving it. Lendl's comment in 1983 about seeing if he could 'fit the tournament into his schedule the next year' was probably a code for saying he'd be back there the next year if the appearance money was sufficient.
     
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  16. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    I talked about that in the very early 80´s with ATP President Harold Solomon...He was worried about that but...whom does the ATP represent?

    The fox taking care of the pets...
     
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  17. Fedinkum

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    If wasn't for the bicentenary, we might have to wait form many more years. I think cash and timing was definitely a factor.
     
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