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Tennis Legend Rod Laver Would Be ‘Very Happy’ To Welcome Novak Djokovic To The Grand Slam Club

By News Creatives Authors , in Business , at August 29, 2021

It has been 52 years since a man has won the calendar Grand Slam in tennis, and that man, Rod Laver, is now 83 years old.

But world No. 1 Novak Djokovic is seven matches away from capturing the Grand Slam at the U.S. Open — and Laver says he looks forward to welcoming the Serb into the club if he can do it.

“I’d be very happy to shake his hand if he can win the four Slams. I’d be happy for him to be a part of — whether it’s a ‘club’ or not, I don’t know,” Laver said with a chuckle during a recent interview with The Associated Press.

The “club” consists of two men: Laver, who won the Grand Slam in 1962 and ‘69, and Don Budge, who accomplished the feat in 1938. Djokovic, though, has held all four majors at once after winning the French Open in 2016.

“When Don Budge won it in 1938, and I did it in ’62, he says: ‘We’re in a special club here. There’s only two of us in it,’” Laver said.

Steffi Graf won all four majors and Olympic gold for the so-called “Golden Slam” in 1988.

Djokovic was unable to win Olympic gold in Tokyo, falling to Sascha Zverev in the semifinals and then Pablo Carreno Busta in the bronze-medal match.

Still, after winning the Australian Open on hardcourts in February and then the French Open on clay in June — where he beat Rafael Nadal in the semifinals and then came from two sets down to top Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final — Djokovic began to think about the possibility of winning the Slam.

“After I won the French, I thought, Okay, I don’t have a lot of time to prepare for Wimbledon, for grass, but I do feel more comfortable, and I like my chances more in Wimbledon than I probably do in Roland Garros,” he said Friday.

Still, the pressure will be on in New York, where Djokovic is returning after an embarrassing default in the fourth round last year when he accidentally hit a lineswoman in the throat with a ball during his fourth-round match with Carreno Busta. That allowed Thiem and Sascha Zverev to play in the final without Djokovic.

“I never said I was going for a Grand Slam; that’s pressure right there,” Laver said. “And Djokovic, I think he wants to talk about it, and so that could be a detriment, if there is one. He knows all the players, so there shouldn’t be any problem with [that]. … I think pressure is the one thing Djokovic may find himself having problems [with]. Maybe he’s not feeling well. There’s lots of things that can go wrong.”

A younger generation of players like No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, No. 3 Tsitsipas and No. 4 Zverev are all gunning for Djokovic, too. He could play Zverev in the semifinals, and Medvedev in the final. None of those three has yet won a major title, although they have each been to a major final.

“We’re going to try to get him,” Medevev said. “Of course, this competition to be the first one of these young guys to win a Slam is, I think, yeah, everybody wants to do it, but there’s going to be only one who makes it.”

Djokovic has never spoken at length with Laver, only chatted briefly with him at the Australian Open, which he has won nine times.

He would welcome the chance to talk more with Laver if he’s fortunate enough to join the Grand Slam club on Sept. 12.

“Hopefully he can tell me something that could help me,” Djokovic said. “He is one of the all-time greats, legends of our sport. Someone I admire, respect and look up to.”


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