Despite the fact he couldn’t play at regular Majors for five years, Rod Laver belongs to the list of greatest tennis champions. When the Open era began in 1968, Laver claimed five Major trophies in the opening two seasons, including the real Grand Slam in 1969 when he conquered the Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and the US Open.
The great Aussie had left a great legacy behind him once he retired, showing full respect for the future champions and encouraging the Next Gen stars to follow their path and fulfill their potential. Since 2017, Laver has had the opportunity to spend a lovely weekend with the world’s leading stars during the Laver Cup, presenting the trophy and enjoying the matches in Prague, Chicago and Geneva, respectively.
“The Rocket” was almost 30 when the Open era started in 1968 and he managed to win more than 70 official ATP titles, with the ATP adding a lot of WCT events to his tally recently, making Laver one of the most successful players in the last 50 years.
Laver is among four players that have managed to win at least two ATP titles on clay, grass and hard in a single season, joined by Tony Roche, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal on the exclusive list.
Winning six ATP titles in a single year is a great achievement that becomes even more valuable if a player secures it on different surfaces, like the mentioned four. The main challenge of this feat is the grass season, as you have to win two titles within a couple of weeks, which isn’t the easiest thing to do in our sport, to say at least.
After that, you have to conquer the slowest surface twice and add as many trophies on the most common hard court. Following those recent titles attached to his name, Rod Laver is the only player in the Open era with at least two ATP titles on grass, clay and hard in multiple seasons, leaving the legends like Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer behind.
The Aussie secured the honor in 1968 and 1970, failing to do so in 1969 after conquering only Roland Garros on clay. The other Australian star, Tony Roche, took care of that in the mentioned year, winning seven titles in total in 1969 and six of those on grass, hard and clay.
After Roche and Laver, we had to wait for more than three decades before Roger Federer joined them on the list in 2004, becoming world no. 1 that year and lifting 11 ATP trophies. Roger won Halle and Wimbledon, like a year ago, and his two titles on clay came in Hamburg and Gstaad, heading back home right after Wimbledon to win the title and celebrate in front of the home fans.
Like Federer, Rafael Nadal became world no. 1 for the first time in 2008, winning eight titles that season and multiple ones on three different surfaces. After a brilliant clay swing, Rafa earned his first trophies on grass at Queen’s and Wimbledon, completing the task on hard court at Canada Masters and the Olympic Games in Beijing to enter the list that will take a lot of effort from the upcoming stars if they want to find their names on it.