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View Full Version : Which of Laver's 3 Grand Slams was the most impressive?


timnz
04-25-2009, 05:26 PM
Rod Laver won 3 Grand Slams.

1/ The amateur Grand Slam in 1962.

2/ The pro Grand Slam in 1967. In the Pro-era of Professional Players only - he won the 3 Major Pro Tournaments - Wembley, US Pro & the French Pro. He also won the Wimbledon Pro. (which was the most important Pro. tournament of the decade). Only Ken Rosewall had ever won the Pro. Slam before (in 1963 and then there wasn't the Wimbledon Pro.)

3/ The open Grand Slam in 1969.

What are people's opinions as to the most impressive slam Laver won - the Amateur, the Pro. or the Open era slam?

NLBwell
04-25-2009, 08:19 PM
I'll go with 69 because everyone was able to play then and also his age (31 by US Open) - 7 years after the first one.

Do you think Federer can win the grand slam 4 years from now? Maybe not exactly fair because players don't last as long these days, but it gives an idea of how impressive it was.

urban
04-25-2009, 10:09 PM
I also would go with 1969. The level of competition among the top ten players and also the top twenty players at the beginning of the open era was very high. And Laver had to face not only hall of famers of his own generation, but a complete new bunch of fresh, strong contenders, who were 6-7 years younger than he was. Among them were champions like Newcombe, Roche (who would have won more without his arm injury), Ashe, Smith, Okker, Kodes and others. Maybe in 1967 he was in his prime, dominating his pro rivals like Rosewall, Gimeno, Gonzales and Buchholz. And it is to add, that top amateurs of 1966, like Nr. 1 Stolle and Nr. 5 Ralston, already had joined the pro tour in 1967. If one looks at the amateur champs of 1967, Emerson and a young Newcombe had shared the amateur majors, with Roche and Ashe coming of age. Laver would have probably defeated them even more clearly than in 1969, when Newcombe, Ashe and Roche had matured.
Its one thing to dominate your own generation, but in my view its even more difficult to dominate the following generation of contenders, who are younger and hungry. One can see this now on Federer's problems with Nadal, Djoko and Murray.

Borgforever
04-26-2009, 01:49 AM
As far as pure brilliance I put his Pro Grand Slam first in 1967 because of:

* Laver close to or at his peak
* Extreme dominance combined with perhaps his most brilliant play
* Younger rivals including Rosewall, i. e. fiercer opposition
* Just seasoned Great White Sharks (other super-pros) in the draw

I think of this as Federer 2006, Borg 1978, Budge 1941 (just kidding!), Mac 1984, Lendl 1986 et al

Just as impressive on other levels is his Grand Slam in 1969 -- placed by me on second place -- just because:

* Extreme brilliance by Laver at 83 years old -- sorry 31 but it's the same...
* Full field in the Open Era with everyone even the new kids on the block...
* Roche (Laver's successor had 6-3 H2H with Laver -- but the injuries...)
* That smash by Laver in the third set at USO where Rod smashed a missile basically from his own baseline to Roche's baseline corner-line -- ON THE LINE (and that wasn't the only jaw-dropper in that battle)...

I've seen two matches from Laver's 1967 (including Pro Wimby-final) and it's hands down Rockets most sublime form I've ever seen when he was hot...

timnz
04-26-2009, 02:36 AM
Borgforever - where did you get a hold of these matches. It would be really interesting to see them.

My own view is that in 1967 Laver was at his peak. I think that Laver's year that year was the most dominant year of any player in history (more than 1984 Mac, 2006 Federer.

AndrewD
04-26-2009, 03:42 AM
Rod Laver won 3 Grand Slams.

No, he didn't.

The 'Grand Slam' ONLY refers to winning all four of the majors in the same calendar year. That means, the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open - nothing else.

Call it whatever else you like but it IS NOT a Grand Slam.

timnz
04-26-2009, 04:03 AM
But I would humbly submit that the achievement was on par with a traditional Grand Slam. Also 1967 has frequently been mentioned as been the year that Laver achieved a 'Pro Grand Slam'. (Yes in inverted comma) **

Hence, in my mind (Agreeing with you that I am not using the term strictly correct), Laver's 1967 achievement was a Grand Slam. (Just a Grand Slam of the Pro events). The US Pro., Wembley and the French Pro. have a significant tradition of being the Pro. Majors, hence, it could be argued they make up the Pro. Grand Slam.

As an aside, my own view is that we all should talk in terms of Majors won not Grand Slam's won as is the habit these days (modern meaning of individual Grand Slam events) - because historically at times the traditional Grand Slam events have not been up to scratch in terms of the achievement and other events in those years represent superior achievements to win eg Wimbledon 1973 or the French Open in 1971 or the Australian Open from 1972 to 1982 - all being sub-par.
But that's a different story.......



Thanks
:)

** eg I found these references very quickly in a two minute search that speak of the 'Pro Grand Slam'

http://www.tennisweek.com/news/fullstory.sps?inewsid=503656
http://www.tennisworld.gol.ge/rod_laver.htm
http://walloffame.infostradasports.com/asp/index.asp?SortId=177
http://www.woodtennis.com/goat.htm

imalil2gangsta4u
04-26-2009, 04:56 AM
definetely the open grand slam. so much more competition. i wonder, would Laver been able to play at that age in todays game :D

hoodjem
04-26-2009, 06:06 AM
Maybe the 1967 Pro Slam, or the 1969 Open GS. Both would have had the best players in the world. I guess the 1969 by a nose.

Were there any amateurs in 1967 who could have played with the big boys (e.g. Newcombe, Emerson, Santana, or Ashe)?

Both Tim and Andrew have good points: one is correct by the letter of the law, the other correct in spirit.

Borgforever
04-26-2009, 02:55 PM
I didn't manage to get my hands on tape of these Laver matches although no-one can say I didn't try. Rosewall was more focused, hungry-looking and about 10% faster than in 68-76 (which is the time-span the bulk of the Kenny-matches I've seen belong to). Ken sprayed loads of winners, looked like Borg in his super-fast court coverage constantly retrieving the un-retrievable, no hanging head or visible frustration, just all confidence and was neck-and-neck with The Giant Peak Laver in the third, about even in winners in that set.

That says something about Rosewall's level -- as well as enhancing Laver's victory even more while at the same time suggest a fair but still inferior impression of Rosewall at his own peak in 1960-63...

I must add that Rod was laughably great in Pro Wimby 1967. It's a few years ago since I saw it last. BBC archives in London has it.

I've seen Laver out-Howizer Mulligan at Wimby 1962 too -- in the mid-90s -- Laver almost never missed a shot, and he was going for every one of them with exaggerated ambition mind you, and bullseyed like 45 winners out of the around 80 points he won -- by 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 or something. But Mulligan only just barely managed to serve up a lot of easy sitters most of the time to The Rocket -- while Rosewall was a completely different talent with a supreme, aggressive defense and unpredictable full-fledged counter-attack skills.

I urge everyone to do everything to see this match if you love the finest tennis on the planet and like to learn some really new stone-cold stuff...

That's actually old stuff...:-)

pc1
04-26-2009, 03:24 PM
Laver, when he was in the old Pro Ranks played a variety of all time greats but as we all know, Ken Rosewall was the greatest of all his rivals. Two players who are GOAT candidates playing at or close to their peaks. Rosewall in 1967 was probably the second best player in the world and still fantastic. Defeating Rosewall once is probably much tougher than defeating several excellent players in a row.

Gimeno may very well have been the third best player in the world at that time, with apologies to John Newcombe, Tony Roche etc. You add that to fields that had Pancho Gonzalez (I'm including the Wimbledon Pro here), Lew Hoad (past his prime but still not bad), Fred Stolle, Dennis Ralston, Barry MacKay among others and it's very possible the 1967 Pro Grand Slam was superior to his Open Grand Slam in 1969.

I think the level of competition Laver faced on the old Pro Tours was one of the reasons that Rosewall, Laver and Pancho Gonzalez were so good late into their careers. They had to play Hall of Famers every other matches and the level of player was so high. When they started playing Open Tennis, the level of play actually lowered for them and it was nice for them to play some easy matches.

Borgforever
04-26-2009, 04:16 PM
I'm sorry but I have to fully agree with you here pc1 again! :-) If you excuse me. We're not twins but we may very well have twin impressions on certain topics.

What you're saying here is a thought that's never left me. The sheer job of only facing the absolute best, day in day out, maybe almost a 100 times a year (imagine Borg-Mac 79, 80, 81 going out only on a heavy-duty H2H worldwide tour or Federer and Nadal... Woaw!) seems to me incomprehensibly tough. Your worst nemesis -- each and every day, the fiercest opposition imaginable. I can't really say I have a full understanding of how difficult that really is but IMO it may contend for the toughest task in tennis as we know it.

So when everybody else just flushed the fields with easier prey -- with the Open Era from 1968 onwards -- some comfy down-time arrived and the GOATS Rodman and Kenny got the breathing space for a whole, dang slew of laser-engraving seasons on the planets trophies and winner-rolls far into the Open Era. This absolute tennis steel-bath is IMO another major factor that must not be dismissed or forgotten when the level of "The Apex Predators In Tennis History" is discussed either in conjuction with earlier or later players or just within their own era. With a repeated underlining of own because that's what these players just did aided by their seemingly unlimited greatness...

If some magnificently deranged scientist who's an underrated genius with regards to quantum-physics invented a time-machine tomorrow and -- generously just for me of course -- created a three year time-span where we pitted the perfect hornet's nest containing Björn, Rodney, Kenny, Ricardo, Roger, Rafa, Ivan, Jimmy, Mac, Pete, Andre, William Tatem and all the others "Apex Tennis Predators Of All Time" and even including the ones with the slightest suspicion of that rooftop tier -- all in their maximum form -- it wouldn't actually shock me one bit if the before 70s bunch would whip so much azz it would look like a prolonged comedy-routine. If it were so that Ken and Rod would blowout Borg of 76 and 78 I would still be slightly surprised but I would nod in agreement. I suspected something like that could possibly happen.

Now I don't believe this to be the actual case if the whole time-machine shebang came to reality -- but the sublime perf's by the older than 1970s bunch are quite simply astonishing and not the easiest to measure in comparisons...

But it has definitely planted a seriously healthy seed of possibility that this scenario has a hefty shot at being truthful. I also see other contrasting scenarios (though they don't include any fast court blowout losses for players before 1970 won by the younger bunch) also...

There's also this fact that if you play a months-long H2H tour with your strongest foe you get the finest practice there ever will be. Talk about honing your skills. Practicing endlessly how to motivate yourself and regroup effectively to turn around a dangerously weak patch of humiliating matches, which could have more serious consequences than a cracked and weakened psyche -- your wallet was on the line -- acute monetary anorexia -- just ask Gonzales -- regardless how great you once were. And they played such diverse circumstances, forced tirelessly to adapt to new and not seldom extremely inferior courts with comically abysmal lighting.

A seriously hard-knocks lifestyle. Which enhances the greatness of Gonzales and the other 50s and 60s guys enormously in my book.

Just a side-point -- I'm soon done with my Doherty study. It's quite big. Too big. But I feel satisfied. Now there's a lot of info I'm going to research in the year to come during travels and such -- but I got a heft load of stats, breakdowns, analysis and a bunch of quite interesting new and more detailed info regarding the many mysteries that surrounds a lot about them...

I'll think I'll start a new The Dohertys-thread and post in installments so that I can live a life too -- what do you think pc1?

AndrewD
04-26-2009, 04:54 PM
But I would humbly submit that the achievement was on par with a traditional Grand Slam.

I would submit that it wasn't on par with anything other than itself. It's like someone saying that Indian Wells or some other tournament is 'on a par' with the French, Australian, US and Wimbledon. Nothing else is, that's why they're the only tournaments that constitute a Grand Slam.

As Urban points out, the effort of beating players you aren't familar with and who have something to prove is considerably more taxing than beating players who, over the course of time, have settled into a natural pecking order. Added to that, 1969 is a far more impressive feat as it included a straight sets win over Ken Rosewall (one of the greatest clay court players in the game's history) in the final of the French Open. That is like beating Borg or Nadal in straight sets on clay.

Regardless, however you want to look at it, it isn't a Grand Slam, just a collection of titles. That you can find references to it as a Grand Slam (especially by a Wiki site) is totally irrelevant. I can find a large number of references where a rally is called a volley. Doesn't mean that it is, just that the author is using the term incorrectly.

Borgforever
04-26-2009, 05:21 PM
I respectfully disagree with you AndrewD -- and strongly too. I think if one closely studies the winner-roll on every important and major tourney ever played -- pros of course included -- I think it proves that there's more stats that favor a lot of wins by just a very, very few players in relation to the amount of competing players in those tourneys -- and this is true of every era. Connors proved he could reach USO SF 1991. He's an Apex Predator.

Why is Laver's beating of Ken in RG 1969 so sublime in comparison to his beatings of Kenny 1964-67 (take your pick on his clay-wins and others too!).

I think it was one of Kenny's worst matches. On par with Borg RG 1976, Rafa Rome 2008 against Ferrero or Hamburg 2007 against Roger.

Everybody has a bad patch -- even the perfect ones. And that was in my book very much helped by a poor Ken, like Borg in 76 and Nadal 2007, very vulnerable to an inspired opponent. I think you stretch out too far for your reach in that point. And Ken was 35...

Point I am making is that you can never convince me that a 100-match H2H with a Killer Whale like Pancho is a lesser obstacle than, say, play the HC Cement season 2008 or the clay-season 2008...

grafselesfan
04-26-2009, 05:22 PM
1962 is the least impressive by far. It is a bit of a joke to be honest. 1967 and 1969 are almost equally impressive, with 1969 just a bit moreso.

CEvertFan
04-26-2009, 05:58 PM
Laver's 2nd Calendar Grand Slam to me is the most impressive as he was already over 30 by that time.


From Wikipedia:

In 1969, Laver won all four Grand Slam tournaments in the same calendar year for the second time, sealing the achievement with a four-set win over Roche in the U.S. Open final. He won 18 of the 32 singles tournaments he entered and compiled a 106-16 win-loss record. In beating Newcombe in four sets in the Wimbledon final, he captured the title at the All England Club for the fourth consecutive time that he had entered the tournament (and reached the final for the sixth consecutive time as he had been runner-up in 1959 and 1960). He set a record of 31 consecutive match victories at Wimbledon between 1961 and 1970, which lasted until 1980 when it was eclipsed by Björn Borg. Unlike his first Grand Slam year in 1962, Laver in 1969 played in events open to all the best professional and amateur players of the world. In the year's Grand Slam tournaments, Laver had five five-set-matches, twice coming back from two sets down in early rounds. In the four finals, however, he lost a total of only two sets. His hardest match was a marathon 90-game semifinal against Roche at the Australian Open under tropical hot conditions. Other opponents at the Australian Open included Roy Emerson, Fred Stolle, and Andres Gimeno. At the French Open, Laver beat Gimeno, Tom Okker, and Rosewall. At Wimbledon, Laver overcame strong challenges from Stan Smith, Cliff Drysdale, Ashe, and Newcombe. At the U.S. Open on slippery grass courts, Laver defeated Dennis Ralston, Emerson, Ashe, and Roche. Laver proved his versatility by winning the Grand Slam tournaments on grass and clay, plus the two most important hard court titles (South African Open at Ellis Park, Johannesburg and the U.S. Professional Championships at Boston) and the leading indoor tournaments (Philadelphia U.S. Pro Indoor and Wembley British Indoor). With US$124,000 in prize money, he was also the first player to break the US$100,000 barrier in a year.

AndrewD
04-27-2009, 02:49 PM
Point I am making is that you can never convince me that a 100-match H2H with a Killer Whale like Pancho is a lesser obstacle than, say, play the HC Cement season 2008 or the clay-season 2008...

Mate, all I can see if that you have an agenda and everything you write is just another attempt to push it. Respectfully, I think it's barely intelligible rubbish.

egn
04-27-2009, 03:31 PM
I would submit that it wasn't on par with anything other than itself. It's like someone saying that Indian Wells or some other tournament is 'on a par' with the French, Australian, US and Wimbledon. Nothing else is, that's why they're the only tournaments that constitute a Grand Slam.

As Urban points out, the effort of beating players you aren't familar with and who have something to prove is considerably more taxing than beating players who, over the course of time, have settled into a natural pecking order. Added to that, 1969 is a far more impressive feat as it included a straight sets win over Ken Rosewall (one of the greatest clay court players in the game's history) in the final of the French Open. That is like beating Borg or Nadal in straight sets on clay.

Regardless, however you want to look at it, it isn't a Grand Slam, just a collection of titles. That you can find references to it as a Grand Slam (especially by a Wiki site) is totally irrelevant. I can find a large number of references where a rally is called a volley. Doesn't mean that it is, just that the author is using the term incorrectly.

The Slam tournaments in the 60s had less talent than the major events of the 60s. Fine don't call it a slam call it something like a Major sweep. It was extremely impressive. The feat was still amazing. Besides the term grand slam was made up it was not written into the rules of tennis. The events were not called grand slams for their whole history.