Just like Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open, the Australian Open has its own unique set of challenges—the heat, a short lead-up season, the time change—but there are certain players over the years who’ve been able to adjust to all of it and bring out their best tennis at the Happy Slam.
And with that, here are the 10 greatest Australian Open champions in the Open Era:
#10: Martina Navratilova
Eleven players have won the Australian Open three or more times in the Open Era, but Navratilova just edges out Mats Wilander for No. 10 on this list. Both players are three-time champions—Navratilova won it in 1981, 1983 and 1985, while Wilander won it in 1983, 1984 and 1988. The American however, reached another three finals in 1975, 1982 and 1987, while the Swede reached one more final in 1985.
#9: Martina Hingis
Like Navratilova, Hingis is a three-time champion and three-time runner-up, but she finished with a better win-loss record: 52-7 to 46-7. The Swiss made six consecutive finals, winning three straight titles in 1997, 1998 and 1999 before finishing runner-up in 2000 (to Lindsay Davenport), 2001 and 2002 (both times to Jennifer Capriati), winning 39 of 42 matches in Melbourne during that stretch.
#8: Margaret Court
All-time, there’s no doubt that Court is the Australian Open’s greatest champion. Yet, seven of her 11 titles came before the Open Era, when it was still the Australian Championships and the fields weren’t as strong as they are now. The Australian legend won the event four times in the Open Era, in 1969, 1970, 1971 and 1973, falling to Navratilova in the quarterfinals of her final appearance in 1975.
#7: Andre Agassi
The American tennis icon was a four-time champion at the Australian Open in 1995, 2000, 2001 and 2003. It was his best major by far (the only one he won more than twice) and he may have won more titles in Melbourne if he started playing it earlier in his career. Agassi played it for the first time in 1995, and by then, he had already played seven French Opens, five Wimbledons and nine US Opens.
#6: Steffi Graf
Deciding which half of tennis’ greatest power couple ranked higher on the list was like splitting hairs. Agassi had a slightly better win-loss record at the event, 48-5 to 47-6, and he won the title in four of nine career appearances, while Graf won the title in four of 10 appearances. But unlike Agassi, Graf made one more final, finishing runner-up in 1993 to the next player on this list…
#5: Monica Seles
Like Agassi, Seles’ best Grand Slam was the Australian Open, with four of her nine major triumphs coming there. She won it the first four times she played it in 1991, 1992, 1993 and 1996, and later extended her record at the event to 33-0 by making the semis in 1999 (losing to Hingis). That’s an even better start than Rafael Nadal had at Roland Garros—he was 31-0 there before his first loss in 2009.
#4: Evonne Goolagong
Like the last four names on this list, Goolagong was a four-time champion at her home major in 1974, 1975, 1976 and at the December edition of the tournament in 1977 (she didn’t play the January edition that year). But unlike the others, the Australian reached multiple finals on top of that, three to be exact, finishing runner-up in 1971 (to Court), 1972 (to Virginia Wade) and 1973 (again to Court).
#3: Roger Federer
The Swiss’ best Grand Slam event is Wimbledon thanks to eight title runs. Over the last few years, the Australian Open has quietly made its way up his resume to become his second-best major. He’s won the Happy Slam six times in 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010, 2017 and 2018, as well as reaching one more final in 2009, falling to Nadal in five sets. He’s also the only player in the Open Era, male or female, to record 100 career victories at the Australian Open, boasting an incredible 102-15 mark there.
Federer even coined the term ‘Happy Slam’ during his pre-tournament press in 2007: “You get here and everybody is like, ‘Happy New Year.’ Everybody is happy to see each other after the off-season. It’s kind of like the ‘Happy Slam,’ so to speak, because people are happy to play again, happy to see each other. Whereas maybe at the US Open, you’re like, ‘Okay, I hope it’s over soon,’ you know, kind of.”
#2: Serena Williams
The Australian Open was the last major Serena won early in her career, but it’s now one of her two best—she's won it seven times in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2017. She's also conquered Wimbledon seven times. And the further she goes in Melbourne, the more dangerous she becomes. Once Serena gets past the quarterfinals, she’s 15-1. Her only loss in the last two rounds came in 2016, when Angelique Kerber battled for more than two hours to topple her in the final, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4.
#1: Novak Djokovic
The Serb has won more Australian Open titles than any other player in the Open Era, male or female, lifting the trophy eight times in 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2015, 2016, 2019 and 2020. And just like Serena, the deeper he goes in the tournament, the more dangerous he becomes. Djokovic is undefeated once he's past the quarterfinal stage, combining to go 16-0 in semifinal and final matches.
After beating Andy Murray for the title in 2016, Djokovic was asked why he’s undefeated in finals in Melbourne. “I’ve had a love affair with Rod Laver Arena for many years,” he replied.
“I hope it can last a long time.”
Djokovic has won more than half of his 17 career Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open. His next-best major is Wimbledon, where he’s won five times. He also owns three US Open titles and one French Open crown.