Rod Laver would be happy if Novak wins tennis’ Grand Slam
Rod Laver knows what it takes to complete tennis’ ultimate achievement, having won the Grand Slam as an amateur in 1962 and again as a pro in 1969.
Djokovic is halfway there heading into Wimbledon, which starts Monday.
“I think he’s got a good shot at pulling it off and I’d be happy seeing it,” Laver said over lunch at La Costa, the golf and tennis resort near his home. “You don’t own the territory. It’s a feather in his cap if he can pull off a Grand Slam. He’s got two already.”
Djokovic completed a career slam by winning the French Open earlier this month. That gave him the rarity of holding all four major titles at once.
Rarer still would be a true grand slam, winning the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open in the same season.
Laver, the red-headed “Rocket” from Australia, is the last man to do it, 47 summers ago.
While Djokovic’s four straight major titles aren’t the ultimate slam, “owning the four at one time, it’s one hell of an effort,” Laver said.
For perspective, when Laver won his second Grand Slam, Richard Nixon was in the White House, the Beatles were about to release “Abbey Road,” and Neil Armstrong had just taken man’s first steps on the moon.
“I was thrilled it happened for me,” Laver said. “You don’t start off by thinking, ‘I’m going to win a Grand Slam.’
Known for his powerful left arm, Laver won Wimbledon four times, the Australian Open three times and the U.S. and French championships twice each. He added six Grand Slam titles in men’s doubles and three in mixed doubles.
No man has come close to repeating the feat. Until Djokovic, only Mats Wilander in 1988 and Jim Courier in 1992 made it halfway by winning the Australian Open and French Open in the same year.
Steffi Graf was the last woman to win the Grand Slam, in 1988.