The urge to label a player as the greatest ever will never fade away. Players would come and go, rivalries would flourish, memories would be created, but the average sports fan would always have a notion of who the greatest ever is/was. That urge to quantify things, to differentiate between players, to bring about a normalistation between eras is something that defines every sports fan. No matter how much you try and stay away from it, your mind always has a ‘greatest ever’ chalked out for you.
But Rod Laver is different. We lesser mortals tend to get swayed by emotions, but great men keep them under check and approach things rationally. And that is exactly what Rod Laver has done.
In an interview with the SuperTV Tennis Channel, Rod Laver said that no one is the greatest player of all time, there just can’t be any, because you judge players only by the era that they play in.
“Who is the greatest player of all time? I think no one. When you look at these players(Roger and Rafa), you can put them in only an Era, you can be World No. 1 in your own era.’
When asked if he would win more games against Rafa or Roger, Rod Laver said “Maybe none. They play differently. On clay no one will be stronger than Nadal. Roger can do everything, he knows how to play on hard, grass and nowadays you are good if you can play on all surfaces.”
When talking about the difference in eras, Rod Laver said that every era has its own way of functioning, its own style and you just cannot compare players from two different eras, as a completely different style of Tennis is played across eras.
When asked if he would even have a chance against the players from this era, Rod Laver was quick to point out that he would need to learn to play with new raquets in order to even have a chance with this generation of players.
“I should learn to play with current rackets, understand what I would be able to do. Today to be good players you have to start since you are a kid, understand how to play drop shot, use top spin. It’s easier today to play tennis.”