Blast From the Past: 1980 Australian Open
This was a curious time for the Australian Open. Apparently the womens tennis association and its top players got together and decided it was going to help revive the slightly tarnished 4th leg of the Grand Slam. 1980 began a concerted effort by the women and by some men to go back to Kooyong and help the Aussie Open along.
From Top Tennis magazine in London
"What Was Up Down Under?"
The Australian circuit has suffered more than any other from modern moves to seperate mens and womens events. This means that the circuit, once a coherent state-by-state series culminating in the Grand Slam Open at Christmas time now has become two distinct competitions, with the women departing from Australia weeks before the men arrive for their tournaments. The prestige of the Australian Open, much buffeted in recent years because top players are disinclined to travel Downunder around Christmas time, is further affected by the men/women split, and it may take a while before the two Opens can regain traditional status.
The three main mens and womens events were concentrated this summer in New South Wales, South Australia, and Victoria, leaving Queensland, West Australia, and Tasmania with small tournaments or none at all - a sad commentary on the game's simultaneous inflation (of prize money) and contraction (of tournaments). The NSW Building Society sponsored the New South Wales Womens Open at White City, Sydney, and the crowd was delighted to applaud Qeenslander Wendy Turnbull's first home win. In fact this was a fine circuit for Wendy - she reached the singles final of the Open at Kooyong and the Doubles final in Sydney with Rosie Casals.
Miss Turnbull's Sydney victory was nothing if not thrilling - she fought off seven match points to come from behind and beat Miss Shriver 3-6, 6-4, 7-6. Pam held match points at 6-2 in the final tiebreak but the Australian saved them all and the two players evened at 8-8. A Shriver lob called long on her second match point gave Miss Turnbull the match, $22,000 first prize and the satisfaction of knowing that her reputation as a three set winner (she won 17 of 23 such matches last year) had been considerably enhanced. Although she lost the contest, and subsided into tears immediately afterwards, Miss Shriver was not disgraced, and for much of the contest she seemed in command as Wendy's play became riddled with errors. "I just think some high power wanted Wendy to win," Pam commented ruefully.
The crowds came out at Sydney to watch superstars Martina Navratilova (making a rare appearance in Australia), Hana Mandlikova, already a winner on the grass circuit in 1979, and perennial favorite Sue Barker, who delighted the fans with a dramatic 7-6, 7-6 victory over Rosie Casals. The Centre Court at White City was packed for this match, one of the biggest midweek attendances since the Davis Cup days of the '50's. Cracked Sue after the match, "I didn't know rentacrowd was so cheap." Nevertheless Sue kept them well entertained as she struggled from 1-5 down in the second seet and ran out the tiebreak 7-3.
Other seeds had mixed fortunes, but the two upsets were Martina's defeat at the hand of Pam Shriver and Miss Mandlikova's unexpected surrender to Wendy Turnbull. The Shriver-Navratilova quarterfinal took place in waterlogged condidtions, a state of affairs which the two players attempted to enliven by appearing dressed in snorkels and flippers during an interuption for rain. But it still turned out a dismal day for Miss Navratilova, still recovering from an ankle injury sustained the previous week in Tokyo. Martina is never comfortable on slippery courts and the American took full advantage of this. "Sometimes you don't go for the shot because you're thinking about getting hurt," said Navratilova afterwards. She bowed out 6-3, 6-3 after having come within points of defeat in a gripping three setter with Mima Jausovec the previous round. The Yugoslav's firm baseline game stretched Martin to the limit physically, and she was lucky to win the tiebreak 7-3.
Miss Mandlikova had a hard struggle against Wendy Turnbull, and it seemed just one more match which Hana begins in form only o lose in the final stretch. Wendy took this one on yet another tiebreaker 2-6, 6-2, 7-6.
But the young Czech redeemed herself at Kooyong to take her first Grand Slam title. Remarkably three out of the four semifinalists in this tournament were Europeans, with only Wendy Turnbull providing home interest, surely unique for one of the world's top grass court tournaments. Seeds tumbled left and right in the Melbourne stadium; first a pregnant Evonne Cawley bowed to Miss Jausovec in three sets, and it seemed had little heart for this tournament or any other. She flew in from Tokyo only the day before and gave herself only two hours practice before this match. Adding to Mrs. Cawley's problems were accusations from her compatriot Wendy Turnbull that Evonne had received substantial appearance money to play in Australia. Mrs. Cawley's American agents, International Managment, denied the charge but the rumours continued to leave a nasty taste. The gap left by Mrs. Cawley's defeat was admirably filled by Miss Jausovec who reached the semifinals with a sturdy win over American Candy Reynolds. And in an all-European semi she bowed to the superior grass court skill of Hana Mandlikova.
For Martina Navratilova this was another disappointing foray; with her right ankle heavily bandaged she swept past Betsy Nagelsen in imperious style 6-2, 6-2, but slumped badly against Wendy Turnbull. This semifinal was rain affected, and the slippery conditions were not in Martina's favour; after fighting back from love-3 in the second set Wendy put her game together and finally broke Miss Navratilova's at 6-5 to reach her second Australian Open final. Once there though, Wendy could not reproduce her fine form of the NSW event, and she lost a tamely one sided contest to Miss Mandlikova.
The final Colgate event of the Australian season was Adelaide, and Miss Mandlikova made no mistake in adding one more to her list of five Colgate titles last year. A rock concert drowned out much of the closing action of Hana's match against Sue Barker, but the Czech had dominated the first set and never really looked like losing. Probably the highlight of this event was Miss Mandlikova's first ever meeting with coach and mentor Betty Stove, and the pupil showed she had learned her lessons well by handing Betty a 6-2, 6-0 defeat.
The article goes on to describe Lendl's poor showing on the Australian grass and describes Brian Teacher's win.