This week marked the start of the Kia Australian Open with the qualifying rounds for Grand Slam hopefuls kicking off in Melbourne. With the main draw beginning on Monday, here are the stats and facts you need to know to look good in front of your mates.

Single is still best
To make things easier, we’ll focus on the mens’ and women’s singles, the most watched segments of the Australian Open. The Kia Australian Open is the Grand Slam of the Asia Pacific region. It’s one of four tournaments (French, Wimbledon and US) which constitutes the Grand Slam of tennis. To win the Grand Slam a player must win the Australian, French, Wimbledon and US during a single calendar year. Win it one after another over two years and you’ve got yourself a non-calendar Grand Slam.

The Grand Slam
The term Grand Slam was coined in 1933 when Australian Jack Crawford got to the US Open final having won the Australian, French and Wimbledon. It was John Kieran of the New York Times who put the term in print and it stuck. Sadly Crawford lost the US to a name fashionistas will find familiar – the one and only Fred Perry. So don’t buy his stuff anymore (we kid, we love his stuff).Only two men can lay claim to a calendar Grand Slam in singles, Don Budge and Australia’s Rod Laver, while three women made the grade – Steffi Graf, Maureen Connolly Brinker and Australia’s Margret Court. That’s right, even the Fed Express missed out on that delivery.

The draw
There are 128 players in both the men’s and women’s draws, with the men playing five set matches and the women playing three sets. Both play advantage sets if the match goes down to the wire. That means that in the third or fifth set (for women and men respectively), after the tenth game a player cannot win the match unless they have a two game advantage. That is 7-5, 10-8, 20-18 etcetera.

Bludging between points
Between points each player gets 20 seconds to bugger around and do what they want before having to start the next point, while on the change of ends (on the odd game) there is a 90 second break to sit down, take a drink, read a newspaper or whatever professional tennis players tend to do these days. Watch out for those that take the piss. We’re squarely looking at you Novak ‘I need to bounce the ball 37 times, no more, no less, before I serve’ Djokovic.

Show me the money
In terms of prize money, a total of $26 million will be given out. Both the mens’s and women’s prize money is equal. A big step for equality but it has drawn some ire as the men have to play five set matches while the women walk off the court after three to have a cup of tea, go home and relax at the spa. We say they deserve equal pay but should man up and play five sets. A first round loser can buy a new car with some change from their $20,000 while a second round loser takes home a handy $33,300. It keeps going up substantially with semi-finals losers taking home $437,000 and overall winners, a handy $2,300,000. So Lleyton Hewitt can go and put down that deposit on a Kia Rio he’s always wanted. Might be risky for him to put a deposit down on anything more expensive.

Sorting out seeds
Although the seedings have not yet been announced (seedings are specific rankings for the tournament and may differ to the actual rankings of the players), Australia is likely to not have a seed in the men’s draw. Our number one player, Bernard Tomic, is ranked 37 while the seeds cut off at 32. In the women’s, Sam Stosur will have a top 10 seeding and Jarmila Gajdosova may sneak in with a world ranking of 34. Yet the main focus will still likely be on Lleyton Hewitt, whose ranking is somewhere near the amount of women Tiger Woods has slept with.

The players
Of the players to watch out for in the men’s draw, thankfully Australia has Bernard Tomic, who is shaping up to be a real challenger to the top 10. His tall frame and powerful groundstrokes (forehands and backhands from the rear of the court) will ensure he stands a good chance of making it close to the Quarter Finals. Also watch out for Canada’s Milos Raonic, who is in a similar position to Tomic in terms of talent and country expectation. At least we had Hewitt recently… Canada’s closest thing to a Grand Slam winner of late was Greg Rusedski, who, God bless Canada, decided it was better to be British and changed citizenship. Raonic and Tomic are rank outsiders but certainly men to watch. We weren’t going to say Federer or Nadal, everyone knows about them.

Another one to keep an eye out for is Andy Roddick. His game is a bit lacklustre at the moment, but he seemingly packed nothing but a serious attitude problem for the trip down under so it will be good TV if/when he finally completely loses it on court. Sympathies to the umpire that cops that one.

In the women’s draw it’s anyone’s guess. The current number one, Caroline Wozniacki, continues to fail to win Grand Slams yet performs admirably outside of them, leaving the Slams to be picked over by a raft of other great women players. Our tips for the year would be to keep an eye out for Petra Kvitova, Na Li and Maria Sharapova. Sam Stosur, who has already admitted she feels too much pressure from the Australian crowd, is likely to bow out early. We’re saddened to say it and hope we’re wrong. Go Sam. Pretend you’re in the US again. That seemed to work quite well last year.

Another game to watch with the women is who can wear the most hideous outfit and call it fashion, and who can get away with the most jewelry on court without a court violation for spilling it all over. In the first category we’re going to say Maria Sharapova is due, while the Williams sisters have a stranglehold on the jewelry game.

The coverage
Finally, you’re going to actually want to watch the Kia Australian Open. If you’re not in Melbourne, TV is your best bet. Even if you are in Melbourne, ticket prices, especially for later rounds, will still make TV your best bet. The 7 Network will be covering it pretty much non-stop on 7TWO. While 7 will go to regular programming around news time, flick over and you will be able to stop Matt White in his tracks while he or one of his mates tries to tell you that the laundry liquid you are using is made of squid intestines.

By heading to the Australian Open website you can also watching live qualifying matches as well as listen to live radio calls of the big matches.

Web: Australian Open, 7 Network, ATP Tour, WTA Tour.