London: Rod Laver had hoped to pass on the Grand Slam mantle to Novak Djokovic. The Australian great was the last man to complete the true Grand Slam, winning all four titles in one year, in 1969.
Rod Laver and Novak Djokovic
Djokovic became the first man since then to win four in a row by lifting the French Open trophy last month but his hopes of emulating Laver once more were dashed by a shock third-round loss to Sam Querrey at Wimbledon.
Laver also won the Grand Slam in 1962 and was only the second man to achieve the feat after American Don Budge in 1938. "I'm still happy to have the title, but I don't own it," Laver said to ESPN. "I would have liked to have been at the US Open and be the first to shake Djokovic's hand if he did it. Don Budge did that for me in 1962 at Forest Hills."' Laver, now 77, felt Djokovic may have subconsciously switched off a little having achieved his goal of winning the French for the first time and making it four in a row. "He just wasn't himself, something was off,"' said Laver.
"I think maybe he felt winning all four titles and being the defending champion of all four was a Grand Slam in his mind. "And so even if it wasn't in the calendar year, it didn't matter. Way back in there somewhere you are thinking one thing, that it doesn't matter, but you are thinking it does matter. Those are two different thoughts to have when you are playing."'
Djokovic admitted he knew it would be tough to mentally motivate himself for another grand slam so soon after Roland Garros and he will now take a break from tennis for a few weeks. The World No 1 confirmed he will not play in Serbia's Davis Cup quarter-final against Great Britain in two weeks' time.