Rod Laver

Great Champions

Rod Laver remembers his first Australian title in 1960 as "a bit of a struggle". In the pre-tiebreak era, he had to battle his way through an 11-9 set against Warren Jacques in round two, an 8-6 set against Ken Fletcher in the quarterfinal and a 9-7 set against Roy Emerson in the semifinal.

In the decider the Rockhampton Rocket gave Neale Fraser a two-set head start, fighting back only to face match points trailing 4-5 in the fifth. He hung on, breaking back to level the match and eventually running out the champion 5-7 3-6 6-3 8-6 8-6.

Laver's 1962 Australian title represented the first leg of his first calendar year Grand Slam and marked what he described as "a life changing run of success". Having beaten Roy Emerson 8-6 0-6 6-4 6-4 on a windy White City centre court, the Queenslander went on to win the French Open and Wimbledon titles, sealing the deal at Forest Hills in New York to become the first man since Don Budge to accomplish a Slam.

Turning pro, Laver had to skip Australia until tennis went 'Open' in 1969. Playing in his home state at the Milton Tennis Centre, he again found things tough going - this time because of the weather conditions. Heavy rain delayed early matches and when Queensland's hot, humid climate kicked in Laver found himself playing overtime, beating Fred Stolle and Emerson in the space of 24 hours.

With only a handful of spectators willing to brave the heat, Laver battled through a four-hour five-set semifinal against Tony Roche before defeating Andres Gimeno 6-3 6-4 7-5 for the trophy. It was his last Australian title and the start of another historic sweep of the majors for Laver, the only man in history to have achieved a double Slam.

In 2000, Melbourne Park's centre court was re-named Rod Laver Arena, the modest star saying: "I could never have dreamt that my name would end up on the stadium".

Laver's 1962 Australian title represented the first leg of his first calendar year Grand Slam and marked what he described as "a life changing run of success".