Rod Laver: The original gold standard of tennis

Rod Laver managed to create records and win Grand Slams in two different eras, making him one of the greatest in the business.

Rod Laver file photo, Image credit: Facebook/ATP

In the modern era, one can see all Tennis players display their brilliance in a broad umbrella called the ATP. There are four major Grand Slams in which a player eye glory, which is the Australian Open, French Open, US Open and Wimbledon. In addition, there is sometimes the Olympics and the year-ending ATP World Tour Finals. However, in the past, playing Tennis was not so simple. There was the amateur circuit and there was also the professional circuit. Professional players could not compete with amateurs and the system of documentation and matches were dodgy.

Amidst all this, the Open Era began in 1968. Grand Slam tournaments agreed to allow professional players to compete with amateurs. Before 1968, only amateurs were allowed to compete in Grand Slam tournaments and other events organized or sanctioned by the ILTF, including the Davis Cup. The Open Era allowed all tennis players the opportunity to make a living by playing tennis. However, there was one player who transcended both eras and established a legacy of dominance which remained the gold standard and yardstick for Tennis success.

The brilliance of Rod Laver

He quit school to pursue Tennis. This was perhaps the right move for the Tennis world as Rod Laver stepped up and established a period of dominance which was second to none. His first success was simply marvelous as he won the Australian Open in front of his adoring fans but 1962 turned out to be a watershed year. In that year, he won the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. His dominance can be summed up in the years prior to the Open Era from 1963 to 1967.

In 1963, during the World Series Tour, Laver was in second. Then in 1964, he won seven tournaments but he had gotten the edge over Ken Rosewall, who was also the best player at that time. In 1965, Laver was the No.1 ranked player as he won 13 titles. In 1966, Laver won 16 tournaments. In 1967, he won 19 tournaments.

However, in the Open Era, his dominance reached a crescendo as he won the Australian, French, Wimbledon and US Open in 1969. Thus, Laver became the first player in history to win all four Grand Slams both in the Professional and in the Open Era. Prior to that, Roy Emerson had won 12 singles titles, including six Australian Open but all that was in the professional era.

Other great records

Laver also won a total of six doubles titles as well as five Davis Cup titles, once again in both the Professional and open Era. In fact, Laver won the Australian Open doubles title in 1969, a year when he completed the four Grand Slams. Overall, despite turning 30 just months after the Open Era began, Laver had tremendous success, winning 74 singles titles, which remains seventh most of the era. Plus, like most players of his day, he regularly played doubles, winning 37 titles.

When one looked at the yardstick to beat in the modern era when it came to titles and Grand Slams, Laver was the benchmark. His tally of 11 titles is second only to Emerson but that has now been overhauled by the likes of Pete Sampras, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. 

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