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Tennis: Five of the best Aussie victories at the Australian Open

Home success at the Australian Open has been hard to come by in recent decades, but prior to that the event was dominated by Australian players before the rest of the world regularly travelled Down Under.

The men’s event was won no fewer than six times by Roy Emerson, while both Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall were crowned champion on three occasions each.

In the women’s event Margaret Court won the title four times in the professional era, having previously won seven times in the amateur era.

Evonne Goolagong won her home Grand Slam four times across five stagings, while Ash Barty delivered for the Aussie faithful as recently at 2022.

The last male singles champions came as far back as 1976, when Mark Edmondson defeated compatriot John Newcombe in the final.

Here we take a look at five outstanding Australian triumphs in Melbourne.

1969 - Rod Laver

Laver had been the dominant force in the game in the game in the early 1960s and won all four Grand Slam tournaments in 1962, before a split between the amateur and professional games saw him forced to sit out the majors until 1968.

That year he didn’t feature at the Australian Open, but he most certainly did in 1969, as the professional era began with the explosive left-hander repeating his 1962 exploits of winning all four Grand Slams.

Laver showed not only his unbelievable talent, but also a fighting spirit that was hard to match, as he won a 34-game set against Fred Stolle in the quarter-finals and a 42-game marathon set in his five-set win over Tony Roche in the last four.

Somehow, he recovered well enough to thrash Andres Gimeno in straight sets in the final, despite the Spaniard having eased through to the final in three sets, while Laver was being pushed to the limit by fellow Aussie Roche.

1973 - Margaret Court

Margaret Court, like Laver, would go on to have an arena named after her at the Australian Open, with the last of her successes on home soil coming back in 1973.

She would cruise to the title without dropping a set and she even eased through her first two matches without even dropping a game.

The final would see her come up against compatriot Evonne Goolagong, who had beaten her in the Melbourne final two years earlier, before Court took revenge in the final of Wimbledon in 1972.

The second Australian Open final between the two players would go the way of Court, who prevailed 6-4 7-5 in two tight sets, before going on to add the French Open and the US Open titles in the same year.

1974 - Evonne Goolagong

Evonne Goolagong reached six consecutive Australian Open finals between 1971 and 1976, but the first three of those matches ended in defeat, as she was beaten twice by Court and once by Virginia Wade.

However, she responded in style at the 1974 Australian Open, as she ended a run of five consecutive Grand Slam final losses to claim a tense three-set victory over Chris Evert.

The match was set up for a thrilling climax at one set all, but Goolagong raised her game to deliver a bagel to Evert in the decisive third set and she would prove that that was no fluke by triumphing in Melbourne in both 1975 and 1976 - defeating Martina Nvaratilova and Renata Tomanova in straight sets.

A further Australian Open title followed in the second of the two events held in 1977 and only two home players have won the women’s singles title since then.

1976 - Mark Edmondson

Many illustrious players have taken the honours for Australia over the years, but the last male winner for the Aussies, Mark Edmondson, is perhaps less well-known than most.

Edmondson went into the 1976 Melbourne Grand Slam ranked as low as 212 in the world, which remains the lowest ranking of any male major winner since ATP rankings were introduced in 1973.

He would not reach another Grand Slam singles final during his career, but he made the most of the one time he did get that far.

Edmondson ousted fifth seed Phil Dent in the second round and 12th seed Brian Fairlie in round three, before defeating 13th seed Richard Crealy in the quarter-finals.

To top things off he took out the top two seeds in his final two matches, downing Aussie all-time greats Ken Rosewall and then defending champion John Newcombe.

Both were taken care of in four sets and Edmondson has yet to be superseded as the last Australian men’s singles champion in Melbourne.

2022 - Ash Barty

The long, long wait for another Australian singles champ in either the men’s or women’s draw was finally ended in 2022, when Ash Barty delighted the home fans by taking the honours.

Having already claimed both the French Open and Wimbledon crowns, Barty would end her professional tennis career on an all-time high by triumphing on home soil.

With all the pressure of being top seed on her shoulders, Barty rose to the occasion as she romped to the title without dropping a set, seeing off four consecutive American opponents to lift the trophy.

Afterwards she opted to call time on her sparkling tennis career and could not have bowed out in more impressive style.

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