A Substitute for War

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Posts Tagged ‘Australian Open

Rod Laver and the Overrating of the Pre-Open Era Grand Slam

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Sculpture depicting Rod Laver outside the Rod ...

Image via Wikipedia

Well here I go taking a hatchet to Rod Laver for the second post in a row.  The first post was in direct response to Laver’s recent interview, but this is just a general point that needs to be made and now seems like as good a time as any to make it.

Almost any argument for Laver as a candidate for GOAT (greatest of all-time) mentions that he won not just one but TWO Grand Slams.  Some will go the extra mile and point out that Laver won the Grand Slam in his last year as an amateur in 1962, and then again in the first full year of the Open Era in 1969 as a professional, and thus imply that might have achieved the Grand Slam half a dozen times had the politics of the situation not gotten in the way.

Let’s clear some things up:

The Best Players Played Professionally even before the Open Era

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Written by Matt Johnson

January 16, 2011 at 2:20 pm

What Constitutes a Grand Slam?

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Rafael Nadal Melbourne 2009

Image by Brett Marlow Melbourne Australia via Flickr

On the eve of the 2011 Australian Open, tennis great Rod Laver has just uttered some fighting words in the direction of Rafael Nadal who is attempting to win his 4th major in a row, and thus complete what is being called the Rafa Slam.  He says that winning 4 major tournaments in a row is not a Grand Slam unless it happens within one calendar year, from January to September.

“The pressure of winning a Grand Slam — there’s supposed to be a start and an end to it,” Laver said. “There’s no real start or end to it if you just keep going from one year to the next. You can say, ‘Well, I’ll start at Wimbledon,’ or ‘I’ll start at the U.S. Open and win all four in a row.’ ”

Now before I jump on him too much:  1) He is technically correct about the definition, and 2) It’s entirely possible he didn’t mean this at all as a statement of the superiority of his own achievement.  I’d call him foolish for making such a statement if he didn’t use it as a way to brag because of how it comes off, but there are worse things than being a bit foolish when dealing with the media.

Let’s talk about what really matters though:  Is winning 4 majors in a row any less of an achievement if you don’t do it in one calendar year?

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Written by Matt Johnson

January 15, 2011 at 12:22 pm

Federer vs Nadal Debates, after 2010

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We’ve reached the end of the 2010 ATP tennis season, but it doesn’t make sense to actually talk too much about it because there’s not much to argue about.  Rafael Nadal is clearly the Player of the Year, Roger Federer is clearly #2.  Then Djokovic, Murray, and Soderling.  I do think though that it’s an appropriate time to talk about Nadal’s career year, and the Federer-Nadal rivalry.

My opinions:

1)      Nadal was great this year, but his peak still hasn’t match Federer, and possibly not John McEnroe either.

2)      Nadal’s edge in the rivalry over Federer remains far smaller than most people think.

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