From strike threats to bushfires: how Australia’s ‘Happy Slam’ lost its cheer

Even before the current saga involving Novak Djokovic, the Australian Open has had its share of crises and controversies

It was Roger Federer who first coined the term “Happy Slam” to describe the Australian Open – a phrase that perfectly encapsulated the first grand slam of the year, a time when the players are feeling fresh and simply happy to be there. For those coming from the European winter the warm sunshine offers rejuvenation, mentally and physically, while the players have also been well treated by Tennis Australia, particularly over the past 15 years or so since Craig Tiley became the tournament director.

It was Tiley who introduced a blanket payment of $1,000 to every player in the main draw, singles and doubles, which was strongly appreciated by those further down the rankings who made the long trip to Australia knowing that their first-round loser’s cheque would probably barely cover the expense.

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