Originally Posted by YaoPau
Maybe someone here can help me with this...
Laver's '69 Slam seems overrated to me, and maybe I'm just missing context, but I don't think the Slams were as big a deal in his time. I mean, Laver obviously cared so much about his Slam streak that he skipped the AO and French in 1970 because he had better options elsewhere with the NTL/WCT.
Laver had a very nice year in 1969, but I wonder if he just saw those four tournaments as four very good tournaments over the course of the year, with tournaments like Boston or Philadelphia, for example, being just as important to him.
I guess what I'm saying is, why single out those 4 tournaments and put Laver on some pedestal as a result. They weren't the highest paying, none of them had the draws that the Pro Tourneys did over the previous decade, the AO had never been relevant, the French hadn't been relevant since 40 years prior. Use 1969 to add to Laver's cross-generation rankings resume, but for greatest career grand Slams, I think that's more a metric for rating modern players.
The Slam events in themselves were always important. What you may have heard is that Slam-counting was not a big deal back then, which is true. Slam-counting really became a big deal when Sampras started chasing Emerson for that particular record. Today it's the single biggest metric for measuring a player's achievements. It's practically a badge or tag: here's 6-Slam winner Djokovic, here's 17-Slam winner Federer.
But in Laver's time the holy grail of tennis was the Grand Slam -- defined in those days as sweeping the 4 Slam events in one calendar year. That was regarded as the single biggest achievement in tennis, and the players who achieved were regarded as legendary figures of the sport: Budge, Connolly, Laver, Court.
Laver's second Grand Slam gave him 11 Slam victories but that was not regarded as the important part of what he did -- if it was regarded at all. I can hardly recall any source of the time period defining his achievement that way or referring to the total Slam count as an important record. Bud Collins did mention it, I think because he was big on stats and records. But even he regarded Laver's Grand Slam of '69 as the far greater achievement. Emerson's mark of 12 total Slams was very much regarded as a secondary record.
That might explain for you why Laver could skip the 1970 AO and FO. For political reasons, he was obligated to do so. But no one thought of it as Laver losing his "Slam streak." The Grand Slam was accomplished and finished and in the history books. Anyone else who might be inclined to count things like most consecutive majors won would be counting something regarded as a secondary record.
The Grand Slam is definitely a streak, maybe the greatest kind. But it just wasn't talked about that way in those days. It was more about something a player did within a single season. In that sense someone might say, "We come to Wimbledon now and Laver is still undefeated in his quest for a Grand Slam." But that's it. There was next to nothing about the total number of Slam events he'd won.
In 1970 it was actually a bigger deal when Laver lost early at Wimbledon, because he had not been defeated there since 1960. He had a streak going there, covering his titles in 1961-62 and '68-69. That was a big deal -- because Wimbledon was the biggest deal of all.