Rod Laver, What was his secret?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by PurePrestige, Jan 9, 2007.

  1. PurePrestige

    PurePrestige Semi-Pro

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    I was just wondering what it was that made Rod Laver so head and shoulders above the rest of his field.
    What was he known for? Power, Speed, Touch? What exactly was it that let him win the Grand Slam?
     
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  2. VikingSamurai

    VikingSamurai Banned

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    As he grew up in Rockhampton. The idea of first class facilities and a lot of coaching wouldnt have been in existance. I put it down to pure talent..
     
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  3. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    he was left handed and had a huge left arm,kind of like a 5'7'' nadal.
     
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  4. scineram

    scineram Professional

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    Closed Era.:p
     
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  5. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    No secret. Talent, dedication, the right trainer at the right time (Charlie Hollis), good tutoring by Hopman, who let him play his own style. Especially humility and the will to learn from the other guys. Was shy and not overwhelming at first sight, lost many of his 'first' finals, but after a while rose to all challenges, and stayed at the top. Didn't look athletic, only 1,75, but had strong legs and arms. In his style, was quite mercurial, took risks, didn't play it safe, combined power with speed and spin work, generated by his big arm and wrist. Was the first who hit winners on the run from both flanks, turned topspin into a weapon, especially on his big topspin backhand. A sort of Henri Leconte with a brain, or a Petr Korda with powerful legs and volleys.
     
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  6. alwaysatnet

    alwaysatnet Semi-Pro

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    His use of topspin was unique,for his time and he used it off both sides.He was rather speedy as well and fit.He was preeminent in his era and didn't have to fight through wave after wave of challengers.The depth in tennis in those days wasn't really there.That doesn't take away from his greatness however.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2007
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  7. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Now Laver's generation in the early 60s were people like Emerson, Fraser, Santana, Pietrangeli, Gimeno, Stolle, Bucholtz, Drysdale, Ralston (with Rosewall, Hoad and Gonzales already established stars at the time). in 1968-69 Laver had to face a new breed of strong challengers, who were 6-8 years younger: Newcombe, Ashe, Roche, Smith, Okker, Kodes, Graebner, Nastase. At the end of his career, in the mid 70s, he faced and still beat people like Borg, Gerulaitis, Vilas, Tanner, Ramirez, who were 15-18 years younger. Still in 1974, at 36, he was Nr.4 on the computer.
     
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  8. alwaysatnet

    alwaysatnet Semi-Pro

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    Point well taken.I only meant that in terms of pure numbers in his heyday,Rod had only to beat a handfull of top challengers. In the finals of most tournaments,Grand Slams anyway.He was facing the same few people in most Grand Slam finals.Of course you could say the same thing about Federer today.
     
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  9. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    But Rod was playing singles and dubs and mixed dubs and Davis Cup, and most of the matches were best of 5.
     
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  10. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    When laver first turned pro he lost 90% of his matches to hoad on their tour and said he thought hoad was the best player of all time,then he lost 100% of his matches to rosewall,said 'I thought hoad was good but kenny's on a different level', rosewall in his mid to late 30's was lavers only real challenge as the other great players like gonzales etc were touching on their 40's, he was very very lucky to come along when he did, he was not the best player of all time, even of ihs generation.
     
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  11. alwaysatnet

    alwaysatnet Semi-Pro

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    Again,the point is well taken.There are pros and cons associated with every tennis generation.I think comparing them is pretty useless.I also think McEnroe and Navratilova are so great in large degree due to their doubles duty which they excelled in as well as their own singles triumphs.It just reinforces,by the way,my preference for the net game.Put most of the groundstroking clones out on a doubles court and they look absolutely lost.They look as out of place as an octopus in a dog shelter.Again,no disrespect at all intended for Mr. Laver.He is on a level few have ever been on.BTW,I saw him in person in an exhibition against Ken Rosewall and he was wonderful to see.Kenny did something that annoyed him and then he said,"so you want to play that modern day tennis,eh?" and hit a series of mini topspin lobs that cleared Rosewall's head as he lept on the baseline in vain trying to field the missles Rod launched.
     
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  12. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Rosewall was 28, when Laver met him in 1963 as a rookie pro. He lost to him badly at first, that is right, but only for half a year. Then he turned the tide, and in 1964 he was 12-3 against Rosewall. He lost to Hoad, then 28, only in one month, january 1963, then beat him most of the time. Since 1964, Laver was the Nr.1 professional and stayed at the top of the pros until mid 1971.
     
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  13. rasajadad

    rasajadad Hall of Fame

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    Not to diminish what Laver accomplished, I think it helped him that some of the best players in the world had turned pro making them ineligible for majors.
     
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  14. Verbal_Kint

    Verbal_Kint Rookie

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    The second Grand Slam was in the Open Era though...
     
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  15. Yours!05

    Yours!05 Professional

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    Great story.:)
     
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  16. travlerajm

    travlerajm Hall of Fame

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    His hand was the size of a gorilla's. The extra mass helps stability on volleys - it's like adding another 300g to you handle.
     
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  17. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    all the great players of the past were heading for forty,the new greats had not yet emerged, so I don't think that it was much of an achievement,especially as gonzales beat him in a one off winner takes all huge prize exhibition, from the baseline.

    excerpt from wikipedia

    Later that year Gonzales won the Howard Hughes Open in Las Vegas and the Pacific Southwest Open in Los Angeles, beating, among others, John Newcombe, Ken Rosewall, Stan Smith (twice), Cliff Richie, and Arthur Ashe. He was the top American money-winner for 1969 with $46,288. If the touring professionals had been included in the United States rankings, it is likely he would have been ranked number 1 in the country, just as he had been two decades earlier in 1948 and 1949. He could also beat the clear number-one player in the world, Rod Laver, on an occasional basis. In their most famous meeting, a $10,000 winner-take-all match before 15,000 in Madison Square Garden in February 1970, the 41-year-old Gonzales beat Laver in five sets.

    Gonzales continued to play in the occasional tournament and became the oldest player to have ever won a professional tournament, winning the Des Moines Open over 24-year-old Georges Goven when he was three months shy of his 44th birthday. In spite of the fact that he was still known as a serve-and-volley player, in 1971, when he was 43 and Jimmy Connors was 19, he beat the great young baseliner by playing him from the baseline at the Pacific Southwest Open.



    gonzales was considered the greatest of all time by his, and lavers peers.
     
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  18. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    Please, Ms. or Mr. Gorilla, or Kaufman or so on, read the Wikipedia article on Gonzales a bit further, and especially the passage about a Inside tennis poll of all time best in 1985 or 86, and you will see, who was seen as the best in those times.
     
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  19. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    if lendl made a comeback and beat federer I think we'd all be in agreement about who would have beaten who if they had both been in their prime.I think Gonzalez's victory against laver is pretty damning.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2007
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  20. alwaysatnet

    alwaysatnet Semi-Pro

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    Pancho Gonzalez had certain inherent natural advantages over a smaller player like Rod Laver and the stylistic advantage of his serve and volley game.Playing indoors on a faster court was no doubt an advantage for Pancho as well.There is no way to compare eras of tennis due to the many differing factors involved,especially based on a one time shot.
     
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  21. alan-n

    alan-n Professional

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    I've seen a dozen or so videos of Rod Laver. Rod's game was not S&V, he wasn't tall enough to had the reach to do that. He plays the game similar to how Federer does today (master of shot variety), except going for big shots more often due to the fact that there were many more S&V back then. If you can say that Federer's Forehand simply blows the opponent away or just takes their spirit away... you can say the same thing about Lavers topspin backhand pass on the dead run. Wood era or not, those passing shot ground strokes of his are as big or bigger than the passing shots from the WTA today with modern technique racquets / strings. Considering his size and stature, its just a freak of nature that anyone had the game that he did.
     
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  22. alwaysatnet

    alwaysatnet Semi-Pro

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    Not if you consider his contemporaries.They weren't exactly towering giants either.At least not like todays behemoths.
     
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  23. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    but most gs's were played on grass, and gonzalez was 41!!!!!!!!!!!!!It was those advantages that effected all players in the same way and contributed to his being the greatest player of ihs day.They were both fast court players and gonzalez beat him, in laver's prime!,at the age of 41 in a winner takes all $10000 match!


    as I said before, if lendl came back and beat federer in similar circumstances I think we'd all be in agreement as to who would beat who in their respective primes.
     
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  24. alwaysatnet

    alwaysatnet Semi-Pro

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    I wouldn't be willing at all to concede anything based on a one time deal.Granted the amazing thing was Gonzalez did this at 41 but as I said on a faster surface with his height,his reach,his serve!,his net game,it isn't a huge shock to me.Except for age,he had every advantage.
     
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  25. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    you are contradicting yourself, you are conceding that panco was a better fast court player than laver at the age of 41, since laver specialised in fast court play it seems to me that you are conceding that pancho was the better player.
     
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  26. alwaysatnet

    alwaysatnet Semi-Pro

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    A) I wouldn't say Laver "specialized" in fast court play.B)I concede Pancho was better that one match.I'm not choosing one over the other.I just make the point with all of Pancho's natural advantages(esp. his serve) it isn't really surprising,is it?
     
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  27. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    So you think pancho with his big serve would have defeated laver in 3/4's of grand slam in his prime?(all but the french were played on grass).
     
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  28. alwaysatnet

    alwaysatnet Semi-Pro

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    He would indeed have the advantage of his size and serve but I don't think you can then say he would've beaten Laver all the time.I think you have to give Laver some credit.He wasn't exactly a bum,you know.
     
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  29. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    no he wasn't but he wasn't better than pancho as we've establised, in the same way as roddick isn't better than federer.I think we can say he would have beaten laver all the time as he was no 1 for 8 years against players who were just as good or better than laver.
     
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  30. alwaysatnet

    alwaysatnet Semi-Pro

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    It certainly hasn't been established in my mind,at any rate,that Laver is to Gonzalez as Roddick is to Federer.No way would I agree with that nor would I agree with your other point that Gonzalez beat guys for eight years just as good as Laver(or better).All I would agree on is that Gonzalez had natural advantages that gave him the edge on faster surfaces.This is the problem with comparing different eras.What if Laver were to play Gonzalez ten times on clay or slow carpet?He would likely win nine out of ten.So why isn't he better than Gonzalez(using your logic).Like I said before,I have no dog in this fight and would take Sampras over both of them.
     
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2007
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  31. Borat

    Borat Professional

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    what was his secret? winning.
     
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  32. Yours!05

    Yours!05 Professional

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    Both Laver & Gonzales said that Lew Hoad was the GOAT. Hope that helps...:p
     
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  33. The Gorilla

    The Gorilla Banned

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    rosewall was just as good as laver.Pancho gonzales won the french open's professional equivelant annally.Laver hit his prime when everyone else was either past it or yet to mature.
     
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  34. Yours!05

    Yours!05 Professional

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    Did you see them?:confused:
     
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  35. Eviscerator

    Eviscerator Banned

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    :roll: :roll: :roll:
     
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  36. alwaysatnet

    alwaysatnet Semi-Pro

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    The above quote,of mine,is in reference to today's game relative to Laver's era. So it would actually reflect even more poorly on Gonzalez who came along a tennis generation before Laver.The quality of tennis,on the whole,improves generation after generation.Today's pros are the best.Better trained,bigger,better equipment and training technology,nutrition,etc.Laver and his era had no such advantages but Gonzalez and his time were poorer still,in that regard.Having said all that,I still don't prefer one over the other and only post this by way of explanation.
     
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  37. Mountain Ghost

    Mountain Ghost Semi-Pro

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    Laver’s Secret

    Tree Trunk for an Arm . . . along with great timing, balance and uncomplicated strokes.

    MG
     
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  38. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    This is patently false; in fact, he never won it. Gonzales made the final of the French Pro Championships three times, losing to Sedgman in 1953, Trabert in '56, and Rosewall in '61. Even in his very best years, Gonzales was not the king of clay, but rather made his name on fast surfaces and predominantly US-based tours.
     
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  39. AJK1

    AJK1 Hall of Fame

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    When Laver won the Grand Slam in '69, he only won 1 other tournament that year!
     
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  40. stormholloway

    stormholloway Legend

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    I've watched them both play and I take Laver. He had every shot.
     
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  41. dirkgnuf

    dirkgnuf Rookie

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    Laver= Grand Slam
     
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  42. Moose Malloy

    Moose Malloy Legend

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    He won 18 tournaments in 1969. atp website is very limited in their records pre 1980.

    http://www.tennis28.com/titles/year.html
     
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  43. AJK1

    AJK1 Hall of Fame

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    Sorry, maybe it was in '62?
     
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  44. urban

    urban Hall of Fame

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    In 62 he won 21.
     
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  45. AndrewD

    AndrewD Legend

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    Ted Schroeder - Wimbledon and US Open champion - said, just before he died, "In all criteria, Laver's the best of all time". He could very easily have opted for his contemporary, Jack Kramer or countrymen Pancho Gonzales and Don Budge but he didn't. In his opinion, an opinion that carries more weight than anyone here and more weight for me as Schroeder lacked the self-interest of Kramer or the ego of Gonzales, the greatest player of any generation was an ugly, left-handed and red-headed Australian. Deal with it!

    Thankfully, considering the levels of discomfort involved, that isn't true, as chaognosis pointed out. However, given where some of your comments must have come from, it is a rather funny Freudian slip.
     
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  46. Trinity TC

    Trinity TC Semi-Pro

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    He was a tough competitor who intimidated most of his opponents with his power.
     
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  47. grizzly4life

    grizzly4life Professional

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    good discussion, and good place to throw in this question...

    how was/were the top players in between laver and borg? or do they almost overlap as strong #1's?

    thanks in advance!!
     
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  48. Nick Irons

    Nick Irons Semi-Pro

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    I find it hard pressed to compare the Open Era to the era previous

    Some great players, no doubt but once 68 rolled around; the talent pool just did a quantam leap
     
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  49. Trinity TC

    Trinity TC Semi-Pro

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    The pro tour was fragmented and ranking were pretty subjective...so off the top of my head...John Newcombe was #1 in 1970, Stan Smith had one year where he was almost unbeatable, Nastase was #1 in a few rankings, Jimmy Connors and then Borg.
     
    Last edited: Feb 7, 2007
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  50. chaognosis

    chaognosis Semi-Pro

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    The best players pre-1968 were still, for the most part, the best players through the end of the decade. Rosewall, who was winning in the '50s, continued to compete at the highest level well into the '70s. Even a "quantum leap" in the talent pool should not affect the truly great players, who stand head and shoulders above their peers no matter how many of them there are. It has indeed been argued that while the Open Era saw an increase in the number of really good second-tier players, it also saw a marked decrease in the number of truly great, first-tier champions.
     
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