The Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open are the most prestigious tournaments in the world
There are four titles that every professional tennis player dreams of winning in his/her career: the Open in Australia, the Roland Garros tournament (France), Wimbledon (UK) and the US Open.
Unlike other competitions organized by the Association of Professional Tennis Players (ATP), in the Grand Slams there are more players taking part and their games are played in five sets (instead of the usual three).
Besides, Grand Slams award a bigger prize, both financially and in positioning in the world ranking. These differences are partly due to the long history of these tournaments, which have been held for more than 100 years.
Professional tennis players prepare the season according to these competitions and, depending on their physical condition, they then consider participating in other ones.
However, each Grand Slam has its peculiarities and it is very important to know them well to assess the winning options: the weather, the conditions of the court or the timing of the calendar influence when taking the decision.
From Oceania to America, passing through Europe
The year starts with the Australian Open, which takes place during the month of January in the city of Melbourne. The tournament was established in 1905 and at first it used to be played on grass, but now players face each other on hard court.
One of the main difficulties at the Australian Open is the weather: the month of January usually has extreme temperatures due to heat and humidity (it’s summer in the southern hemisphere).
Next one up is Roland Garros, which is usually played during the month of May outside of Paris. It is the third oldest Grand Slam: established in 1891, although it wasn’t until 1925 that it became an open tournament for international players.
Roland Garros is the only Grand Slam played on clay. It is a difficult surface, because the powder cushions the fall of the ball and reduces its speed: which means that the players have more time to reach and the points are longer…
At the beginning of summer, between the months of June and July, it is Wimbledon, the oldest and most prestigious of the Grand Slams. This championship was established in 1877, a few years after Walter Clopton Wingfield invented the rules of modern tennis.
Its organizers pride themselves on maintaining tennis traditions, such as making tennis players wear white or light colors or maintaining a day of rest in the middle of the competition, the so-called Middle Sunday.
Wimbledon courts are covered with grass, a surface that makes the game easier and quicker, but also is very unpredictable, which makes the game even more exciting.
The last Grand Slam of the season is the US Open, which takes place between August and September in Flushing Meadows, just outside New York. This tournament was established in 1881 and is the second oldest.
Like the Australian Open, it was initially played on grass, then moved to clay for two editions and finally adopted hard court.
The US Open matches are also played in five sets, but it is the only one of the four Grand Slams in which there is no need to win by a difference of two games in the last set: there the winner prevails in the tie break of the fifth set.