In 1969 just as the Open Era of tennis had started, the Australian legend Rod Laver did what still seems to be unthinkable in modern day Men’s tennis. He won all 4 Slams in the same year, a Calendar Grand Slam which no other male player has been able to replicate. Laver who his famously name as the Rockhampton Rocket is regarded as one of the greatest players tennis ever produced and some argue him to be the greatest ever. As Laver’s achievement become 50 years old, we flashback to visit the year that was never repeated in the ATP circuit again.
Conquering The Home Turf
It all started in January 1969 at his home Slam where top seeded Rod Laver would defeat one of his most formidable opponents Roy Emerson in the 3rd round in a nail-biting 4 set contest. Another Australian Fred Stolle would be defeated in the quarters and Laver looked in the form of his life.
In the semis Rod Laver would complete the hat trick of defeating his fellow countrymen when Tony Roche was beaten in a thrilling set final. Laver took the 1st and 2nd set before Roche came back to win the next 2 and draw the match. The 5th again saw Laver dominating and winning with the score of 6-3.
The intensity of the match could be judged with the score line of 2nd set which read 22-20 in Laver’s favour at the time when there were no tie-breakers. The final was an easy passage for Laver when he beat Spain’s Andrés Gimeno in straight sets to lift the 1st Slam of what would later prove a historic year.
The King Of Paris
Laver faced a slightly tough draw in 1969 Roland Garros having to beat formidable players like America’s Stanley Smith and Spaniard Andrés Gimeno to reach the semi-final stage. Thomas Okker, the formidable Dutch opponent would wait in the semis but Laver was nearly unstoppable that year, beating Okker with ease in 3 straight sets to race to the final.
In India: Politics & Entertainment
Laver’s most formidable opponent and fellow co-patriot Ken Rosewall was on the opposite side of the court in the deciding match. However, Laver was in the form of his life that year and denied Rosewall ever a set in that match, going on to win the 2nd successive slam of his career-best season.
From Clay To Grass
Rod Laver was the defending champion and top seed but faced his 1st big test at the 2nd round only at the hands of Indian player Premjit Lall when the match went to sets and Laver had to come from behind to win the last 2 sets and book his spot in 3rd round. In 4th round American Stan Smith would again ask lot of questions and Laver had to dig deep and need sets to progress further.
Laver faced Arthur Ashe in the semis and a 4 set contest would see the Australian through to his 3rd successive slam final. In the decider would wait fellow Australian John Newcombe who did offer some resistance but Laver was determined to write his destiny and win his 3rd consecutive slam in 4 sets. He now had won Wimbledon looked at the cusp of achieving history at the US Open.
History Made In New York
Laver was on the brink of history and would sweep through the draw before meeting America’s Dennis Ralston in the 4th round and needing 5 sets to advance through. In the quarters fellow Australian great Roy Emerson would offer some challenges but Laver advanced through in 4 sets.
Laver would down home favorite Arthur Ashe in 3 sets to book his place in the 4th slam final of the season and stand on the edge of history. That history would not be dined to the Australian great as his fellow countrymen Tony Roche faced the wrath of that year’s win machine Rod Laver. A calendar slam was completed and Laver would become the face to Men’s tennis.