There is a reason Korean tennis is strong in Australia

Tennis has four Grand Slam tournaments in a season. These, also called major tournaments, open with the Australian Open, which starts in mid-January. Afterwards, the French Open and Wimbledon will be held in Paris, France and London, England, respectively, in late May and late June. And the US Open, which will be held in New York, USA at the end of August, is the last Grand Slam tournament to come to an end. 

The French Open (Roland Garros), which started in 1891, is the only major tournament held on a clay court. On clay courts, the ball slows down and bounces higher. Therefore, to win the French Open, where it is difficult to hit a winning shot, you must have strong stamina and excellent defense. Few players have won both Wimbledon and the French Open because of their opposite characteristics to grass courts.

Founded in 1877, Wimbledon enjoys the highest authority as the oldest tennis tournament in the world. Wimbledon, which values ​​tradition as much as its long history, is also famous for requiring a strict dress code for its players. Wimbledon, the only major tournament held on a grass court, is advantageous to players who are good at serving and serving and volleying due to the nature of the court.

The US Open was also played on grass courts from 1881 until 1974. The tournament, which was also held on clay courts for the next three years, has been held on hard courts since 1978. As a tournament held in the world’s largest sports market, the US Open boasts the largest prize money among major tournaments. In addition, the main court of this tournament, Arthur Ashe (winner of the 1968 US Open, the first professional players to participate) Stadium can accommodate nearly 24,000 spectators. The world’s largest tennis arena also has a retractable roof.

The Australian Open is the only major tournament that started in the 20th century (1905). Games were originally played on grass courts, but since 1988 they have been converted to hard courts. As this event is close to Christmas and the year-end and New Year holidays, it is difficult for players to adjust their physical condition, and world-class players once avoided participating due to its distant relationship with Europe. In addition, it was midsummer in Australia in January, so heat waves were a headache. Therefore, in preparation for bad weather, the Australian Open introduced a court with a retractable roof for the first time among major tournaments, and currently has three indoor arenas.

Among the major tournaments, the Australian Open is the best gift for domestic tennis fans. This is because Melbourne, Australia, where the game will be held, is only two hours ahead of Korea. The importance of watching live matches in sports cannot be overstated. However, the French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open are 7 hours, 8 hours, and 13 hours respectively, and it is not easy to enjoy them live in Korea due to the slower time difference than Korea.

I also believe that Australia is the promised land of Korean tennis. There are several reasons. 

Tennis tournaments are divided into three major tiers. The top tier is the ATP (Professional Tennis Association) Tour, and below that is the ATP Challenger Tour. Finally, the lowest rated tournament is the ITF (International Tennis Federation) World Tennis Tour. Until 2018, the name of this level competition was Futures. In this way, players grow through Futures, Challenger, and Tour competitions.

The ATP Tour also determines the ranking of the tournament based on ranking points. The lowest rating is ATP Tour 250, 500 above, and 1000 ranking points are awarded to the winner of the Masters tournament, which only takes place in nine tournaments in a season. For reference, 2000 points are awarded to the winner of the major tournament.  메이저사이트

The best result by a Korean player to date is winning the ATP Tour 250. Two people have achieved this. At the tournament held in Sydney, Australia in 2003, Lee Hyung-taek became the first Korean player to lift the trophy. After that, 18 years later, in the 2021 Kazakhstan competition, Kwon Soon-woo won for the second time. And at the tournament held in Adelaide, Australia on the 14th, Kwon Soon-woo once again reached the top.

During these three ATP Tour victories, two were held in Australia. Also, when Kwon Soon-woo won the championship in 2021, the opponent he met in the final was, unfortunately, an Australian player. In addition, at the 2018 Australian Open, Chung Hyeon vomited his spirit to reach the semifinals. Whenever Korean tennis reaps historic achievements, Australia has been with them.

For another reason, the Australian Open is a welcome tournament for Koreans. This is because Kia Motors has been the main sponsor of the Australian Open for 21 years from 2002 to the present. Throughout the tournament, large Kia logos are located here and there on the court.

Unlike domestic players who are stingy in saying thank you to their sponsors in interviews after winning, players from Europe and the United States, where professional sports have developed, do not forget to thank the sponsors of the tournament. After the men’s singles final, legendary players such as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal said in an interview with the winner, which was broadcast live around the world, “The tournament was held safely because of Kia, the sponsor. Don’t forget to comment “thank you.” Whenever I hear these words, I feel proud as a Korean once again.   

Tennis fans around the world are interested in whether Novak Djokovic, who showed an extreme performance at the Australian Open, will be able to achieve his 10th and 22nd major championship title in the 2023 tournament. However, I am more interested in the strong sponsorship between Kia Motors and Nadal, which started in 2004 and continues to this day. I want to hear one more interview where Nadal won the Australian Open again like last year and said ‘thank you’ to his soul mate, Kia.

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