The Australian Open is the first of professional tennis' four "major," or "Grand Slam," tournaments, normally played in late January. While many of the rules and regulations for this tournament are the same as those for any other pro tournament, there are some that set the Aussie Open apart.
The Australian Open is more lenient in regard to the level of professional conduct players must uphold in comparison to the other major tournaments. It encourages audience participation, cheering and general player-audience interaction more so than the French Open or Wimbledon, where players are expected to wear white and females are expected to curtsy to the Queen of England when she is in attendance.
The Australian Open is played on hard asphalt, while two of the other three Grand Slam tournaments–Wimbledon (grass), French Open (clay)–are contested on different surfaces. The Australian Open is played on asphalt called Plexicushion Prestige, which designed for less heat retention and is similar to the court surface for the fourth Grand Slam, the U.S. Open.
The Australian Open–along with Wimbledon and the French Open–does not use tiebreaks to determine the winner of a set that is tied at a score of 6-6. A traditional tiebreaker is won when a player wins seven points (best-of-15) and is ahead of his opponent by at least two points. The absence of a tiebreak at the Australian Open means that when a match reaches 6-6, the players continue to play games until one player is ahead by at least two points. This sometimes produces rather lengthy sets.
Heat and Retractable Roof
The Australian Open is played in Melbourne during summer, so high temperatures sometimes influence a match's playability. For this reason, the Extreme Heat Policy is employed, allowing a referee to halt play if temperatures reach too high. Additionally, the tournament's two main courts–Rod Laver Arena and Hisense Arena–feature a retractable roof, put into use at night and when temperatures reach too high.
- Photo Credit Tennis ball and the shadow of tennis net image by Elzbieta Sekowska from Fotolia.com
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