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Oz Open celebrates its 100th birthday

Now billed as 'Grand Slam of Asia-Pacific', it began at a cricket field, has been played in New Zealand and was even once held in a zoo.
PTI | By Paul Tait (Reuters), Melbourne
PUBLISHED ON JAN 11, 2005 11:02 AM IST

It began at a humble suburban cricket ground, has been played twice in New Zealand and was even once held in a zoo.

The Australian Open turns 100 this year, a remarkable feat for a tournament that has reinvented itself several times as it struggled to cement its place as the fourth Grand Slam of tennis.

Now billed as "The Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific", the tournament began in 1905 as the Australasian Championships soon after Australian and New Zealand officials formed the Australasian Lawn Tennis Association.

Seventeen men — women did not compete until 1922 — contested the inaugural tournament at the Warehouseman's Cricket Ground at Albert Park in Melbourne.

The Melbourne Cricket Club's Rodney Heath defeated Adelaide doctor Arthur Curtis 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 in the final in front of around 5,000 spectators.

A century later, the Open is Australia's biggest annual sports event, attracting some 500,000 fans for two weeks each year to its state-of-the-art Melbourne Park home.

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