Roger Federer (Bio) may not be playing his best tennis this season, but is it undoubtable that an overwhelming portion of the tennis community still considers him the greatest player of all time, or at the very least, the greatest of his generation. One of those who subscribes to this belief, is Australian legend Rod Laver (Bio), who was court-side in Shanghai and watched the 17-time Grand Slam champion suffer a surprising defeat at the hands of Gael Monfils.
“When I look at Federer, with what he’s accomplished, against the competition that he’s accomplished it with, I’d have to say I would think that Roger is the greatest player,”
Laver, famed as one of the elite few ever to achieve a calendar Grand Slam and the only man to achieve such astonishing successes both in the amateur and professional leagues, believes that it is Federer’s consistency at the top over the past decade that raises his value as one of the greatest ever. The top three players of this generation have all had opportunities to achieve calendar Grand Slams, Federer (2004,2006,2007), Nadal (2010) and Djokovic (2011).While they may never have achieved the incredible heights of “The Rocket”, both Federer and Nadal have completed career Grand Slams, with Djokovic still awaiting an opportunity to usurp the French Open crown from Rafa.
According to Laver: Federer never achieved the calendar Grand Slam solely because Rafael Nadal stood dominant on that surface. This stands true in 2006 and 2007, where Federer won the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the US Open but failed to capture the French Open with two losses in the final to the Spaniard. Nadal currently holds the record for the most singles Grand Slam titles on any surface in the Open Era, with 8 French Open title and counting.
“When I look at the way Nadal plays on grass, clay and hard courts, especially this year, he’s obviously one that can win it,” Laver said. “The only reason why Federer didn’t win a Grand Slam was because of Nadal on clay.”
Laver sympathizes with Federer’s current drop in confidence, admitting that he it is quite standard for players of that age, yet cannot point as to the actual reasons behind his drop in quality of play.
“Is it the desire? Is it your emotion, does it come up? Is your adrenaline not flowing as well as it normally does in a match?” he asked. “I don’t know whether Roger’s feeling anything of that nature. But sometimes I notice him, he just doesn’t have it that day. But the day before he was magnificent.
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