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The 20 Greatest Male Australian Open Champions of All Time, Part 1

Posted on January 18, 2011 by JA Allen

Roger Federer serves in 2010, winning the Australian Open that year.

It used to take 45 days on a ship to get to Australia from Europe.

For that reason, in the early days, the Australian Championships were not well-attended by players outside of Australia and, at times, or even by their own players.

But as the world grew smaller, the importance of this colorful slam down under grew until now it ranks up there with the other three, receiving the attention from the players and the media the Australian Open so richly deserves.

This year as the 2011 Australian Open gets underway, the world is focused on many fascinating tennis stories.

For example, the women will be looking to crown a new champion with the absence of last year’s winner and former World No. 1 Serena Williams.

On the men’s side, the questions center on whether Rafael Nadal will be able to complete his “Rafa Slam,” winning the Australian Open––owning all four major titles at one time.

No one has accomplished that since Aussie Rod Laver completed his own grand slam in 1969.

There is also much speculation wondering if Roger Federer, who is the defending champion, can win career grand slam title No. 17.

It would also give Federer five Australian Open Championships, which has not happened in the Open Era of men’s tennis.

Such a win would surely boost Federer higher on the list of the 20 all-time greatest Australian Open Champions.

No. 20 Boris Becker (Won 1991 and 1996) – 2 Finals, 2 Wins

Boris Becker won the Australian Open Championship twice.

Boris Becker is best known for winning the Wimbledon Championship at age 17 as an unseeded player.

Totally, Becker won six career grand slam titles, his final one coming in Melbourne.

The big German won the Australian Open first in 1991, defeating Ivan Lendl 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

It marked the last time the former World No. 1 Lendl made a major final in his career.  It also gave Becker the No. 1 ranking.

Becker won the Australian Open title again in 1996 defeating American Michael Chang in the final 6-2, 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.

This proved to be Becker’s last appearance in a slam final.

In total Becker played in 11 Australian Open Championships winning two.

His total win-loss record was 29-9 giving him a winning percentage for the Australian Open of 76.3.

No. 19. Ashley Cooper (Won 1957 and 1958) – 2 Finals, 2 Wins

Ashley Cooper also won the Australian Open twice.

Like many of the great champions on this list, Ashley Cooper was an Aussie.

This former World No. 1 tennis player was born in Melbourne.

1958 was a stand out year for Cooper.

That year Cooper won three of the four major championships. He remains only one of ten men to accomplish that feat.

Cooper began the year winning the Australian Open. In 1958 he went on to capture Wimbledon and the U.S. Open Championship.

Unfortunately,  Cooper lost in the finals of the French.

His opponent in the finals of the 1958 Australian Open was Malcolm Anderson. Cooper won that match 7-5, 6-3, 6-4.

It was the Aussie’s second consecutive win at the Australian Open.

Cooper had captured the title first in 1957 against fellow Aussie Neale Fraser 6-3, 9-11, 6-4, 6-2.

No. 18 Johan Kriek (Won 1981 and 1982) – 2 Finals, 2 Wins

Johan Kriek won the Australian back to back in 1980-1981.

Johan Kriek was born in South Africa in 1958, moving to the United States where he developed his tennis prowess.

During his career Kriek won 14 singles titles and eight titles in doubles. His only two slam trophies, however, were captured in Australia.

His greatest triumph was winning back-to-back titles at the Australian Open in 1981 and 1982 defeating American Steve Denton both times.

During those years, of course, the tournament was still being played on grass.

Kriek’s win over Denton 6-2, 7-6, 6-7, 6-4 was the South African’s first grand slam singles title.

The next year, his repeat win over Denton was a bit easier 6-3, 6-3, 6-2.

It was Kriek’s last slam appearance, but the South African certainly left his mark on the Australian Open.

No. 17. Jim Courier (Won 1992 and 1993) – 2 Finals, 2 Wins

Jim Courier takes a dip after winning the title.

In 1992, American Jim Courier won the first of his back-to-back titles in Melbourne.

Courier’s opponent in the final was Sweden’s Stefan Edberg.

The American dispatched Edberg 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 capturing his first Australian Open championship and his second slam title overall.

In 1993 Courier once again faced the Swede in the finals in Melbourne, winning a second time 6-2, 6-1, 2-6, 7-5.

The win marked the final time either of these great champions would battle for an Australian Open championship.

In all, Courier appeared in 10 Australian Open Championships, winning two of them.

His overall win-loss record was 35-8 giving Courier a winning percentage of 81.4.

No. 16. John Newcombe (Won 1973 and 1975 – RU 1976) – 3 Finals, 2 Wins.

John Newcombe was another of the great Aussies to win the title.

John Newcombe was one of several Australian men who won Australian Open Championships.

But in addition to his two Australian Open titles, Newcombe won three Wimbledon and two U.S. Open trophies.

In the late 1950s through the 1960s and early 1970s, the Australians dominated the game which was played primarily on grass.

Newcombe, like many of his contemporaries, played serve and volley tennis, employing a dominating serve.

The Aussie was one of the best of his era.

Newcombe won his first Australian Open by defeating Onny Parun of New Zealand 6-3, 6-7, 7-5, 6-1.

The Aussie’s second Australian Open title came when Newcombe defeated American Jimmy Connors 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Perhaps Newcombe’s most famous match came in his defeat in the finals of the 1976 Australian Open to Aussie Mark Edmondson whose rise to win the championship could not have been more improbable.

Two weeks prior to the start of the Australian Open in 1976, Edmondson was working as a window cleaner.

Ranked No. 212 in the world, Edmondson defeated John Newcombe in the final 6-7, 6-3, 7-6, 6-1.

No. 15 Pete Sampras (Won 1994 and 1997 – RU 1995) – 3 finals, 2 wins

American Pete Sampras won two titles in Melbourne.

Arguably one of the greatest men ever to step foot on a tennis court, Sampras made the journey down under to compete in the Australian Open 11 times.

Better known for his play on the grass courts of Wimbledon, American Pete Sampras won two Australian Open Championships and was runner-up once in 1995.

His first Australian Open title came in 1994, defeating fellow American Todd Martin 7-6, 6-4, 6-4 to win his fourth career grand slam but Sampras’ first in Melbourne.

In 1997, Sampras was able to win his second Australian Open championship, his ninth grand slam title overall.

He defeated Spaniard Carlos Moya in the 1997 final 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.

In 1995, Sampras lost in the final to fellow American Andre Agassi 4-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-4.

In all, Sampras played in 11 Australian Open Championships, winning  two titles in three final appearances with an overall win-loss record of 45-9.

Sampras had a winning percentage of  83.33 at the Australian Open.

No. 14 Frank Sedgman (Won 1949 and 1950 – RU 1952) – 3 Finals, 2 Wins

Frank Sedgman won the Australian Open in 1949 and 1950.

Frank Sedgman was another Aussie who played a spirited and aggressive game of tennis.

In total Sedgman won five career grand slam titles and helped Australia secure three Davis Cup wins in the early ’50s.

From 1949 through 1952, Sedgman lived tennis, winning 22 grand slam titles in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

He won his first Australian Open title in 1949 defeating fellow Aussie John Bromwich 6-3, 6-2, 6-2.

A year later, Sedgman won his second title down under by defeating Aussie Ken McGregor 6-3, 6-4, 4-6, 6-1.

McGregor returned the favor in 1952, by defeating Sedgman in the final 7-5, 12-10, 2-6, 6-2.

The former World No. 1 Sedgman turned pro in 1953 in order to make a living playing tennis as did many players prior to the start of the Open Era in 1968.

No. 13 Guillermo Vilas (Won in 1978 and 1979 – RU 1977) – 3 Finals, 2 Wins

Argentine Vilas appeared in three Australian Open finals, winning twice.

Argentine Guillermo Vilas, who owned four career grand slam titles, enjoyed the Australian grass, winning two titles there.  He could never adapt, however, to the lawns at Wimbledon. That title always eluded him.

Vilas won his first Australian Open Championship in 1978, defeating Australian John Marks in the final 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

It gave Vilas his third career grand slam title.

The following year, Vilas repeated this feat capturing his second consecutive Australian Open title this time by defeating American John Sadri 7-6, 6-3, 6-2.

In 1977, when the Australian Open was played twice––once in January and once in December––Vilas played in the January tournament. The Argentine lost in the final. He was the runner-up to American Roscoe Tanner who won 6-3, 6-3, 6-3.

In all Vilas appeared in five Australian Open Championships, winning two, with an overall record of 23-3.

Vilas’ winning percentage for the Australian Open was 88.46.

No. 12 Ivan Lendl (Won 1989 and 1990 – RU 1983, 1991) 4 finals, 2 wins.

Ivan Lendl won 2 Australian Open titles out of 4 final appearances.

The great Ivan Lendl, who won eight career grand slam titles, did his best in Melbourne toward the end of his long and illustrious tennis career.

Lendl captured his first Australian Open Championship in 1989 by defeating enigmatic Miloslav Mecir 6-2, 6-2, 6-2.

It marked Lendl’s seventh career grand slam title.

The Czech followed up this triumph by repeating the feat the following year, defeating Stefan Edberg 4-6, 7-6, 5-2 (Edberg retired).

Lendl appeared in two other finals, losing both. In 1983, Lendl fell victim to Swede Mats Wilander 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 and in 1991 Lendl lost to German Boris Becker 1-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Lendl appeared in 12 Australian Open Championships, winning two out of four finals with an over all win-loss record of 48-10.

Lendl’s Australian Open winning percentage was 82.76.

No. 11 Stefan Edberg (Won 1985 and 1987, RU 1990, 1992, 1993) – 5 Finals, 2 Wins

Swede Stefan Edberg won the Australian Open twice when it was played on grass.

It is understandable that the serve and volley style of play perfected by Stefan Edberg gave the Swede the edge he needed to win the Australian Open when it was played on grass.

In 1985 Swede Stefan Edberg won his first Australian Open title and his first career grand slam title in Melbourne.

He defeated fellow Swede Mats Wilander in the final 6-4, 6-3, 6-3.

In 1987, Edberg found himself again in the finals of the Australian Open facing Aussie Pat Cash.

The two battled for five sets with Edberg winning the match 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-3.

This gave the Swede his second grand slam title and his second Australian Open Championship.

Edberg also appeared in three more finals when he did not capture the crown.

In 1990 he lost to Ivan Lendl and in 1992 and 1993, Edberg lost to Jim Courier.

In all Edberg played in 13 Australian Open Championships, winning twice while appearing in five finals  with an overall win-loss record of 56-10.

The Swede’s winning percentage in Melbourne was 84.85.


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