Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are the main stories of this tennis weekend once again, but in the shadow of a big Miami final they will play on Sunday, we may go back to 1975 and remember the last ATP title that one of the tennis titans won on March 30, 42 years ago.
Rod "The Rocket" Laver has been considered one of the greatest players of all time, together with Roger Federer and probably Pancho Gonzalez, leaving a very deep trail in the world of tennis for some 2 decades. Between 1956-1976, Laver won some 200 tournaments, standing alone in that segment, and he proved his class on amateur Tour until 1962, among the Pro giants between 1963-1968 and in the end during the Open era.
He won two calendar-year Grand Slams, the first one in 1962 and again in 1969, in the first full season of the Open era, a feat that is yet to be repeated. After a lot of turmoil and confusion in the previous years, the Open era started in April 1968 in Bournemouth, and Laver was there to compete for the first joined tournament between pro and amateur players.
He lost in the final to his great rival Ken Rosewall in 4 sets and no matter he was almost 30 at that point, the best was yet to come for this unique player, and just a year later he captured all 4 Grand Slams, showing his greatness in the joined Tour after being Pro number 1 for 4 seasons.
Until 1976 and his last event he won in Detroit (not an official ATP tournament), Rod has clinched some 74 titles since the beginning of the Open era, 46 of which are recognized by the ATP (lost 22 finals), which is pretty impressive considering how old he was when the Open era started. In that first season, he captured Wimbledon and Los Angeles, improving the tally to 7 in 1969 (just 3 titles outside Slams) and everything culminated in 1970 when he grabbed 12 ATP titles.
Laver stayed competitive among the newcomers born in the 50's, taking 21 titles in the next 4 seasons, but in 1975 he decided to slow done and devote himself to his family even more. The age was obviously no obstacle for him, at the time when the game was less physically demanding, and he played great tennis in the first 3 months of 1975, winning 4 consecutive titles and 23 matches in a row! It all started in La Costa and after a few weeks of resting he was ready for a 3-week Tour, that proved to be just perfect and in some way his swan song.
He lost just one set in 5 matches to lift Sao Paulo title on the carpet before moving to Caracas where he beat the names like Colin Dibley, Jeff Borowiak, and Raul Ramirez. A week later Later was in Orlando and he was the man to beat once again, defeating 20-year-old Vitas Gerulaitis in the final by 6-3 6-4 to catch his 46th ATP title, the last one in his career.
In addition, this was also his last ATP final in a career and it was a nice thing to see him reaching the end of his journey in such a successful way. ALSO READ: ATP MIAMI: Federer halts Kyrgios in over 3 hours, reaching the final after 11 years!