Originally Posted by urban
Agree. Laver's record on clay is pretty fine, although he didn't play much on European clay after 1964. In 1962 he had one of the best clay seasons ever, comparable to Muster's run in 1995, winning Paris, Rome, Hamburg, Bournemouth, Gstaad, Hilversum, Oslo, Houston and other events, against clay courters of the status of Santana, Pietrangeli, Emerson, Lundquist, Krishnan, Mulligan, Darmon and others. Laver won 2 RG (out of maybe 5 played, including one final), 2 Rome (out of 4 played), 2 Hamburg (out of 3 played). He defeated every great clay courter between 1961 and 1975, and maybe only with Santana, whom he played regularly only until 1962, he has a slightly negative head to head, losing twice 1960 and 1961 at RG, but winning at Rome 1961 and Hamburg 1962. His other hth on clay are in favor of Laver, or at least even. Given that its quite difficult to reconstruct the surfaces on the old pro tour, i have a slight margin 3-1 for Laver over Rosewall on clay. Interesting, that he made his breakthrough against Rosewall in 1963 at Kitzbühel, when he won the clay event in straight sets. In open competition, Laver was 4-4 with Rosewall on clay, with Rosewalls last win coming 1977 at Houston, when both were near retirement. It was a matter between these two, how the clay played. If it was hot, and the court played fast, Laver took advantage. Rosewalls two wins in 1968 at Bournemouth and Paris came on a rain-soaked court, which played quite slow. In the summer 1968 Laver came back to RG and won the French pro over the decent clay courter Newcombe who had beaten Rosewall.
In 1971 Laver was still able to beat Kodes, the reigning RG champ, at Rome in a straight (3) sets final. He beat Borg 1974 on red clay at Houston, "teaching him a clay court lesson", as Arthur Ashe remarked, and lost to him at Forest Hills in four on har tru, when he was 37 and gave away 18 years. In the 70s, when he was past 32, he still coped on clay with the likes of Orantes (1-0), Vilas 1973/1975 (1-1 overall), Panatta in 1975 (at Boston), Solomon, Gerulatis, who all won RG or were runners up there.