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The ATP World Tour tennis season begins with the Brisbane International, a key event in the Australian Open series. With the event providing an ideal opportunity for players to tune-up their game in time for the first Slam of the year, it’s no surprise that many of the world’s best turn up here year in, year out.
The ATP Brisbane Open has a rich history. It began life as the South Australian Tennis Championships, and held a number of different names prior to 2009 . The tournament was based in Adelaide until 2009 when the Tennyson Tennis Centre was built in Brisbane to accommodate for a combined ATP and WTA event.
The origins of the ATP Brisbane Open trace back to 1972 when Alex Metreveli defeated Australia’s Kim Warwick in the final of the inaugural men’s singles draw. The event ran at Tour level on four occasions between 1972 and 1980, and has been held annually ever since with the exception of 1986. It began life as a grass court competition, but was switched to a hard court event in 1988 in accordance with the surface change at the Australian Open.
Past winners of this event include Novak Djokovic, Lleyton Hewitt, Thomas Muster, Jim Courier, Andy Roddick, Goran Ivanisevic and Tim Henman. Hewitt was the last Australian to win the title, having come back from a set down in 2000 to defy defending champion Thomas Enqvist. There has been an Australian title drought ever since, which was almost relieved by Chris Guccione when he took Djokovic to three sets in the 2007 final.
Australian players had once dominated the ATP Brisbane Open, winning six of the nine tournaments held here between 1979 and and 1989. This success was due to the combined efforts of Warwick, Mark Edmondson, Peter Doohan, Wally Masur and Mark Woodforde. Woodforde managed to win back to back titles starting in 1988 when he prevented Masur from achieving the same feat in the final.
Doubles success hasn’t been so elusive in recent years though. Paul Hanley teamed up with the Czech Republic’s Lukas Dlouhy in 2011 to lift the trophy, whilst Todd Perry won the doubles event in 2007 with his South African teammate Wesley Moodie. The Australian team of Woodforde and Todd Woodbridge also achieved plenty here, winning the men’s doubles on three occasions between 1993 and 2000.
Pat Rafter, another Australian favourite, also has two men’s doubles trophies to his name, having teamed up with Bryan Shelton in 1997, and Courier in 1995. Rafter and Courier are just one of many other formidable pairings that have won the ATP Brisbane Open. Other notable teams include Ivan Lendl and Bill Scanlon, Gustavo Kuerton and Nicolas Lapenti, and the Bryan brothers, Bob and Mike.
Rafter, a former world No. 1 and two-time U.S Open champion, is held in high regard in Brisbane. The centre court at the Tennyson Tennis Centre is named after him. This court will play host to all of the big matches here.
In 2012 Andy Murray made a great start to the season by winning his 22nd ATP World Tour title in Brisbane. The Scot ran rampant in the final, beating Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-1, 6-3. Murray’s success down under didn’t lead to Australian Open glory, but did foreshadow an incredible year in which he won Gold at the Olympics
and won his first slam at the US Open
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