Invincible Rod Laver admits he would struggle to compete in the modern game
Supremely fit and equipped with powerful shots and an ice-cool temperament, Rod Laver was all but invincible in his prime.
However, he believes he would struggle to make an impact today, even with the benefit of modern racket technology and sports science.
“It would be tough for me,” Laver said. “My mechanics would have to be totally changed from a serve-volleying person to just a baseliner. Would I be capable of hitting the ball over the net 20 and 30 times and hitting it deep and accurate all the time? I don’t think that would be in me. I never tried to do that in my career. I figured if I got it over the net five times: ‘I’m doing good. I’m going to the net.’
“But a lot of that came from the grass. When you got pretty raw grass out there, you couldn’t let the ball bounce too many times because you knew it was going to run along the ground, so you had to get to the net.”
Laver, who has lived in California for many years, also believes that his 5ft 8in frame would have counted against him in an era dominated by bigger players. “If you’re not 6ft 2in or 6ft 4in you’d have to do a lot of other things well to combat the bigger man,” Laver said.
Recalling he had “once sprained an ankle”, Laver said playing mostly on grass had meant he rarely suffered injuries. “The biggest problem with injuries now is the way they play,” he said. “It’s so amazingly tough. They’re playing from the baseline most of the time. Your shoulders and wrists, they’ve got to take a beating. You only have to mishit the ball a few times before something starts to give.”
Laver said the key to his two calendar Grand Slams had been learning to play on clay. “I was over in Europe when I was young and I just said: ‘Book me into all the tournaments. I’ve got to learn how to play on this stuff. I want to go not in the cheap little places where you can get an easy win, I want to be where all the best players are and I want to be in there all the time.’ Finally it caught on.”
Harry Potter actor suffered 'severe flu-like symptoms' on a flight from London to Orlando
First full-length look is finally here
World cities ranked in terms of safety, food security and 'liveability'
"Oink! Oink! Hee hee hee!" First interview with the big-screen star
Biohacking group hopes technology will lead people to think about even more dystopian uses
Brooklyn Beckham poses in Arsenal training kit following rumours of signing for the Gunners
Manchester United transfer news and rumours: David De Gea could leave for FREE; £38m for Marquinhos; £37m bid for Mats Hummels;
Transfer news LIVE: Manchester United to make £37m Mats Hummels bid; Inter plan Yaya Toure move; Shola Ameobi joins Crystal Palace
Australian Open 2015: Novak Djokovic vs Stan Wawrinka match preview
Danny Ings to Liverpool: The Reds attempt to steal a march on rivals in race to sign Burnley striker
- 2 The awkward moment Sarah Palin raised $25,000 for Hillary Clinton's election campaign
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
- 5 Baldness could soon be treated using stem cells, scientists hope
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures