Every year without fail, Australians roar to life on the tennis tour as soon as June comes around and it is no surprise that the spike in performance coincides with the commencement of the annual grass court swing.
2023 has been no different, with both Alex de Minaur and Jordan Thompson reaching ATP finals, Jason Kubler hoisting a Challenger title in Ilkley and Rinky Hijikata progressing to his maiden tour level semifinal.
For some reason, Australians just relish playing on tennis’ most traditional surface and for the past 13 years, some of the country’s greatest successes have come on it.
Take Thompson for example, he has now made two finals in his career, both of them at the exact same event and the exact same surface.
He seems to become a different player, utilising the nuances of the surface to his advantage and exuberating an abundance of confidence every time he steps out on court.
Thompson’s recent form has seen him defeat the likes of former Wimbledon semifinalist Richard Gasquet, 2016 SW19 runner up Milos Raonic and even push Cam Norrie, who progressed to the final four at the All England Club last year.
His record on grass sits at an even 50% on tour, much higher than his 44% on hard and 31% on clay, and similar can be said for de Minaur, who boasts one grass court title and a winning record of 62%, just shy of his hard percentage of 63 and way above his clay number at 41.
The Demon’s breakthrough title on tour may have come on a hard court, but what most people forget is that he was a junior finalist at Wimbledon in 2016, where he was edged out by Denis Shapovalov in a tight contest.
His mentor in Lleyton Hewitt was another who shone on the grass courts, and towards the latter stages of his career the South Australian saved his stunning displays for the green shoots.
Four of Hewitt’s final five ATP finals came on grass, with the most famous being in 2010 where he upstaged Roger Federer in Halle, a tournament that the Swiss Maestro conquered on ten occasions.
A year earlier at Wimbledon, the former World No.1 produced his final major quarterfinal, going down in a titanic tussle to long-time rival Andy Roddick.
Hewitt’s winning record on grass was astonishing, maintaining a 76% return throughout the entirety of his career, well above the 70% on hard and 63% on clay.
His prowess on grass was evident right until the very end when he produced an inspiring performance to overcome Alexandr Nedovyesov in the Davis cup quarterfinals back in 2015, sending Australia through to the semis.
Hewitt’s partner in crime for that tie was Sam Groth, who’s record on the natural surface was 54%, the only one that he possessed more victories than defeats.
The likes of Nick Kyrgios and Bernard Tomic also made their career breakthroughs throughout the June and July period, with the former making that now famous run to the Wimbledon quarters in 2014 and the latter doing so in 2011.
Both were outside the top 100 when they announced themselves but have made opponents weary from then on, most notably last year when Kyrgios made a stunning run to the decider at SW19, going down in a tight four-set contest to Novak Djokovic.
The Canberra native has won the same percentage of matches on grass than a hard court, but his accurate booming serve and punishing groundstrokes have always made him a formidable foe on the historic grounds at Wimbledon and any other venue possessing luscious lawns.
On the women’s side, before Ash Barty won the women’s singles at Wimbledon in 2021, she was already a junior champion at the event and had won three trophies on the surface due to her variable game that transitioned so well into the net.
Ajla Tomljanovic is another that has blossomed on grass, progressing to her maiden major quarterfinal in 2021 at the All England Club, before replicating the feat yet again in 2022.
It is a surface that has provided Australians with a plethora of moments to cheer about over the years, and it seems as though it could be the same again in the not too distant future, because despite the swing lasting barely over a month, the Aussie prevalence has not waned in the slightest.