KOOYONG, January 12, 2016
Every January tennis players return to the Melbourne suburb of Kooyong in order to start the Australian tennis summer as well as their preparations for the first Grand Slam tournament of the year, the Australian Open. 12 of them will compete at the Priceline Pharmacy Kooyong Classic, taking place from 12 to 15 January.
From 1972 to 1987 the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club hosted the Australian Open but it had become too small and the tournament was moved to the newly built National Tennis Centre at Flinders Park (today Melbourne Park). Back then, the club could only provide seven competitive grass courts, which allowed to hold the Australian Open in Kooyong only with a draw of 96 men and 64 women. The other Grand Slams had already switched to a field of 128 players.
The last Australian Open final held in Kooyong: Stefan Edberg defeats Pat Cash in 1987
When the Australian Open has started to break into new areas at their new home, in 1988 the first Kooyong Invitational exhibition was created by Colin Stubs to continue the tradition of having a world class tennis tournament at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club. In 1995, the tournament switched from grass to hard courts to make the conditions closer to that of the Australian Open.
Nowadays, the Kooyong Classic is a tennis exhibition singles-only tournament, held annually in January as a lead up event for the first Grand Slam of the season. The club features 50 courts (26 grass courts), including a centre court with a capacity of 8,500 seats, three restaurants as well as an indoor pool. In 2016 the tournament features an expanded 12-player draw.
Day 1 Results:
Feliciano López defeats Gilles Simon 7-6, 4-6, 11-9
Hyeon Chung defeats Omar Jasika 6-4, 6-3
Nicolas Almagro defeats Paul-Henri Mathieu 7-6, 6-3