Novak Djokovic has achieved some incredible records at the Australian Open.
And he is poised to do so again at AO 2023, should he produce another strong succession of performances at Melbourne Park.
Much like when it emerged he owned the longest winning streak in Wimbledon’s Centre Court history, Djokovic could attain a similar milestone at Rod Laver Arena in the next fortnight.
But first, some context.
Rod Laver Arena was built for the 1988 edition of the Australian Open – it was then known as Centre Court – as the tournament relocated from its previous home at the Kooyong Lawn Tennis Club.
In its 35-year history as one of the world’s four most prestigious tennis stadiums, Rod Laver Arena has been the stage for 793 players across 1,819 matches.
The first match on the new court, beginning just after 11am on Monday 11 January 1988, was fittingly thrilling: American Wendy Wood defeated Australian Dianne Balestrat 6-2 4-6 8-6.
The first local winner followed them on to the court, with Pat Cash beating Austria’s Thomas Muster 7-5 6-1 6-4.
The winner of the first night match was Martina Navratilova, who brushed Elizabeth Minter aside for the loss of just three games that Monday evening.
Over the decades at the tournament – as Flinders Park became Melbourne Park in 1996, as Centre Court was renamed Rod Laver Arena in 2000, as the courts switched from green Rebound Ace to blue Plexicushion in 2008 – several players came to thrive on this grand stage.
Icons Roger Federer (107) and Serena Williams (88) have played the most matches at Rod Laver Arena.
Federer, with 93 victories, has posted more match wins on the court than anybody.
Ash Barty is the most successful Australian, triumphant in 20 of her 25 appearances – or 80 per cent of the time – and her last seven in a row, becoming the only home-grown player to hoist an AO singles trophy at Rod Laver Arena.
But when it comes to success, two players stand tallest.
Monica Seles finished her storied career with a stunning 34-3 record at Rod Laver Arena, which converts to a winning rate of 91.89 per cent – the best of any player at the stadium.
Djokovic’s record of 68-7 (90.67 per cent) comes a close second.
Together with Andre Agassi (46-5, 90.2 per cent) they are the only three players with a winning percentage above 90.
Seles won her first 33 matches at the Australian Open, and 26 of those were completed at Rod Laver Arena, giving her the longest winning streak on the tournament’s premier court.
She beat Sabine Hack 6-0 6-0 in her Rod Laver Arena (Centre Court) debut in 1991, and won her 26th match in a row there over Steffi Graf in the 1999 quarterfinals.
Martina Hingis – a player who would go on to record her own spectacular numbers – snapped Seles’ unbeaten streak in the 1999 semifinals.
Djokovic, currently riding a 21-match winning streak at Rod Laver Arena, is one win away from equalling his own career-best streak of 22 match wins at the stadium, spanning 2011 to 2014.
Should he keep winning, he has a realistic shot at surpassing Seles’ record.
“Rod Laver is probably my most – not probably, it certainly is my most successful court in my career. I love playing there. I look forward to it,” Djokovic said last week in Adelaide.
He added, on Saturday: “It's also one of the biggest reasons why I was really looking forward to come back to Australia: because of my record here.
“I really love playing in Rod Laver Arena, particularly night sessions. I've had plenty of success that hopefully can continue this year.
“I know when I'm healthy and playing my best, on this court I have chances really against anybody.”
Rod Laver Arena: historic stats
BEST WINNING STREAK
|Monica Seles||26||1991 1R (def. Hack)||1999 SF (lost Hingis)|
|Martina Hingis||25||1997 1R (def. Rittner)||2000 F (lost Davenport)|
|Andre Agassi||25||2000 1R (def. Puerta)||2004 SF (lost Safin)|
|Novak Djokovic||22||2011 1R (def. Granollers)||2014 QF (lost Wawrinka)|
|Novak Djokovic||21||2019 1R (def. Krueger)||?|
|Steffi Graf||20||1988 1R (def. Jonsson)||1991 QF (lost Novotna)|
|Roger Federer||19||2006 1R (def. Istomin)||2008 SF (lost Djokovic)|
|Victoria Azarenka||17||2012 1R (def. Watson)||2014 QF (lost Radwanska)|
|Roger Federer||17||2017 1R (def. Melzer)||2019 4R (lost Tsitsipas)|
|Serena Williams||14||2009 1R (def. Meng)||2012 4R (lost Makarova)|
|Novak Djokovic||14||2015 1R (def. Bedene)||2017 2R (lost Istomin)|
BEST WINNING RATE
(minimum 10 matches)
MOST MATCH WINS