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June 3, 2019

Rod Laver

Paris, France

GUY FORGET: Good morning, everyone. Thank you for coming here. Thank you very much, Rod, for being here with us.

ROD LAVER: My pleasure.

GUY FORGET: I'm just going to start with a small story, it's very personal. In 1982, I was 17 years old, and I had an Australian coach, his name was Bob Brett. And I went to train in Florida with him in the academy of Harry Hopman, who was a famous Australian coach.

And Bob Brett, like Rod when he was a kid, was someone, the Australian way, who had me work really hard every day, between four and six hours on the court. I was there playing on the green clay in Florida, and at the end of the day, I had played for four hours, had run, and I was exhausted. At that time, my coach, Bob, comes up to me and says, Guy, would you like to play tennis some more?

And I go, Hell, no, I don't want to play anymore. He said, Because there is a fellow who'd like to play for about an hour. I said, Oh, Bob, I'm tired. You have done so much today. We're going to do this again tomorrow? He said, Too bad, because Rod Laver is here and would like to hit with you an hour. I kind of went, Is he here, really? I couldn't believe it.

So I grabbed my racquet, had my shower, went back on court and played with Rod. It was one of the most emotional moments of my life.

ROD LAVER: I was a hacker back then (laughter).

GUY FORGET: It was funny, because as a kid, you know, I had Rod's big poster in black and white above my bed. He was doing this wonderful one-handed backhand, topspin, one of the first players who did that. I grew up as a kid with Rod above my bed. To actually see him in person and to play with him for an hour, I still get chills just to talk about it today.

Rod, thank you so much for being here with us today.

ROD LAVER: Thank you.

GUY FORGET: As you all know, Rod won two Grand Slams in '62, didn't play the majors for a long time, and came back in '69 and won our tournament again. Yesterday he was confessing to me that when he first started to come on the clay, all the Spaniards were giving him a hard time. He just couldn't get them. He was losing to these guys.

He said, Guys, I'm going to work, I'm going to play all these clay court tournaments, and you'll see. One day I'm going to get you.

That's why he did such a great career. It's once again an honor for the French Tennis Federation, for me, for all the French people, to have Rod Laver here with us today. Thank you.

ROD LAVER: Thank you.


ROD LAVER: I was here in 1956. I was 17. Same age, I guess, pretty close.

Yeah, it was a thrill, having learnt, you know, and played tennis in Australia, then had that opportunity to travel overseas. To be here, you know, 1956, it was amazing.

We thought, as tennis players, we generally played on the grass a lot in Australia and we had fast clay courts. We thought any time the ball is up here, nice and high, I'd hit it as hard as I could. And, of course, three or four would go in, and about 20 went out.

So I had to learn how to play on the European clay. It was a learning experience. I remember Manolo Santana. Manolo, he was playing with me. A fella called Pat Hughes, from back in the years with The Musketeers, with Fred Perry, Pat Hughes, Bunny Austin, and I said, Enter me in all the tournaments in Europe. I have to learn how to play on this stuff. They're playing with me.

So I did. I played there for about three years, and I played about six tournaments in a row each year. And finally I understood, That's how they do it. I had that opportunity to learn how to play on this particular surface.

GUY FORGET: You sure did well.


ROD LAVER: But it was, you know, I have to ad-lib a little bit. I played Ken Rosewall here in '68, and it was a thrill for me to come back to, you know, the circuit, the Grand Prix circuit, and thinking, all those years, I turned pro in 1963, and in 1968, Open tennis came. So five years of just playing amongst ourselves, Hoad, Rosewall, Gonz√°lez, Hermano, and Buchholz.

It was amazing to think I'm back here at the grounds that I saw in 1956. You know, it was amazing to think, you know, tennis has done the full circle.

Now to see what it's done, Guy has been responsible for making it happen here in France. It's a thrill to be back this year. I guess it's 50 years since. You know, I first played the Australian Championship was '69. I'm still here.

Q. Great to see you. I wonder, when you watch the modern players, if you sometimes reflect that you're glad you never had to share a clay court with Rafael Nadal or perhaps Björn Borg, for that matter. I wonder if you try to work out what strategy you might have employed to deal with them?
ROD LAVER: Yeah, that's a difficult question. Yeah, it's amazing what -- we had, you probably all know, the wooden racquets, they were little tiny heads. Then when the big-headed racquet came out, I didn't really play any.

There was one that came out for me, I think it was a company called ProKennex. It was a bigger wooden racquet, but then they put two areas of graphite over it. So it was stiff. You could hit it hard, and you got that, you know, that feeling of the size of it.

But now, today's players, you know, they have learned how to perfect the new racquet that's out there now with heavy topspin or coming under it. Like Roger Federer, you know, he goes up to hit his shot and immediately comes underneath it and almost backs a dropshot back into the net. It's a totally different world.

You know, I never thought about how would I play against someone like Roger or Rafa, because, I mean, their game is so different. I have to associate my life with a wooden racquet, trying to play their game. You know, the game has sped up so much because the timing and the impact of the new racquet technology is totally different to, yeah, the wooden racquet.

But, yes, the wooden racquet was, you know, a great racquet, but you had to generate it and you had to hit the ball perfect, you know, on the timing. Timing had to be perfect. If it wasn't, it wasn't going anywhere. I think Guy could tell us all about that, because it's the way the game was back in those years. Yeah.

Q. All eyes are on Novak this week and whether he can topple Rafa and can complete the Novak Slam. What do you make of his transformation over the last 12 months, for a player who was on his knees on the medical bed after surgery. And if he does complete this Slam, what do you make of that in the context of tennis? Do you think your calendar Grand Slam will ever be emulated?
ROD LAVER: I marvel at someone like Novak with his ability and his consistency. When you look at, you know, the way he plays the game, he doesn't go bang, bang, bang, ace, volleys. He wins every individual point, you know, from the baseline.

So, you know, he's quite an individual on his own ability. Well, yes, he's won all four at one time or defending champion at all times, so he's already done that portion of it. But I think more so when I look at today, he just won the Australian, so, now he's in line, you know, to win a Grand Slam. So that, to me, if he beats a semifinal -- I don't know who he plays in the semifinal, but the final, if he wins here, he's on line to win a Grand Slam, you know, starting with the Australian.

You know, yes, it's a long way to go, he's only got one, but this is probably, for him, I would think, it's probably the toughest match because you've got so many great young -- not young players, but players, whether it be Nadal or Federer.

You know, you've got Wawrinka that's just come through a huge match. I don't know if he's going to be too tired for his match coming up, you know, a day from now. But there are so many good players out there that are playing on clay.

So that's why today probably the clay court is probably one of the toughest ones for a player to win if they're in line for winning a Grand Slam.

Yeah, you just have to be very fortunate and play your best tennis at the right time, no injuries, no sickness, no colds, over a nine-month circuit.

Q. Nice to see you in Paris. Please let me know, what are your most vivid memories of your victory here in 1969?
ROD LAVER: Well, they're fond memories, good memories coming back here. Guy told me the court that's out there now is exactly the same court that, you know, I played on all my matches.

So, you know, to me, the court itself seems to me a little quicker. Whether the base is a little harder -- I watched, I guess, Novak yesterday -- yes, yesterday. It's amazing. They are hitting the ball so hard. And so it's not a clay court game that we saw, you know, back in the '60s, because, you know, I guess back to the composite racquets, you didn't have the speed with a wooden racquet.

But now they're eight feet or ten feet behind the baseline, and they're hitting winners against various opponents. It's totally different, but it's also the same.

The clay courts are, you know, one where you enjoy the competition, but it's a slow game when you see, you know, just like Wawrinka, just over five-hour match. So you've got to learn to be fit and be steady and keep those errors out of your game.

Q. It's a privilege to have you with us, Rod. Good morning. You said at the beginning that tennis has gone the full circle and the incredible feats that were achieved by your generation are being emulated and even superseded now with those performed by Roger, Rafa, Novak. Of course it's been several decades in between. So I'd like to know, what is your viewpoint in that regard whether we'll have to wait for several more decades for these latest feats to be repeated?
ROD LAVER: Yeah, I was just fortunate -- I had matches, if you're talking about the Grand Slam years when I was going along, you know, you have to be very fortunate, because I had match points, I was match points down in various matches through that whole circuit.

But when you're out there -- you know, if you love the game and you're prepared to compete, you know -- I must admit I had a coach, a fella called Charlie Hollis, and this is a little bit about Wimbledon, we were practicing away, and left-handers -- yes, had a good forehand but a chip backhand. He says, Wimbledon, you'll never win Wimbledon with a slice backhand.

So I said, Okay, well, what do I do? He said, You have to hit a topspin backhand. And with a wooden racquet, it wasn't something that not many people did. In fact, I think hardly anybody had a backhand that was more of a topspin backhand.

So some of those things had helped me moving up through my ranks and being a tennis player. Yeah, you love the game, compete, but looking at today's players, I mean, it's unbelievable how a young player can come up at 16, 17 years of age, and immediately pick up and become a player. If you love the game and you compete in it, you learn how that game plays.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
ROD LAVER: I don't know. I guess I don't go in decades. I look at some of my past champions, Rosewall and Hoad, Gonz√°lez, all the way down, Tony Trabert. They paved a career.

I was the one looking up to them and thinking, God, that's what I want to do. I want to be a tennis player. I want to see the world. And, you know, have racquet, will travel.

Q. I have a question for you. It's sort of nature-versus-nurture type of question. There is so much talent on both the men's and ladies' side. The talent seems to improve every year. I'm sure you recognize that. My question really has to do with the mental strength of players breaking through to win a Grand Slam. Is that something that in your view can be taught? Is it innate? Can a player improve in that regard? Do you see certain players on those critical moments fighting through and winning points and winning matches and other players not being able to do that? I wanted to get your view on that.
ROD LAVER: Gee, that's a tough question, really, to have an exact answer for you. But I think you're looking at players -- you know, well, I guess the competition breeds some of that innate, you know, position, to be able to play your best tennis under the pressure. And the pressure, you know, you don't know exactly who you're going to play.

But looking at the whole thing as, Well, I can win this match, won't have any trouble, you're going to lose that match immediately. So you've got to learn how to pace yourself through that sort of an environment. And I think, you know, there is a lot of great players, but they don't get past the first and second round because they're thinking of playing the final.

I think that's one of the areas that you have to pace yourself and understand, you know, winning matches, it doesn't matter how you win. Even if you're playing lousy, the next time you walk on the court, you're going to feel like you're a better player because you won that match. Doesn't matter how well you played, but the mere fact that it was a win against a loss.

And I think that also creates, you know, self-confidence. I think that's what you've got to believe in is the self-confidence that you're in this match. You don't enter this tournament and say, I'm going to win this tournament. You enter this tournament thinking, I'm going to win a match. And then bit by bit by bit you start to get experience.

And I think that is how, I imagine that's how I grew up and played. You know, I played in some of the Under-14s and Under-16s and the amateur tournaments in the Australian circuit. You know, you get that opportunity. If you don't have that opportunity to compete all the time, then you're really going to be lacking and not being able to give your best.

Once you have all these things happen and you come out and you're starting to feel, I am getting better, you can feel it in your own self that I'm a better player today. I think that's how you get to that category of, you know, you can look at -- well, you can look at maybe even Wawrinka yesterday. I wasn't sure whether he was leading by two sets and then Tsitsipas caught up and made it two sets all.

But, I mean, all those challenges and rallies that are played for those five hours, they're not meaningless. It's a coaching level. And I think that's the one thing that, you know, I think players have to understand is that just because you're 5-All in the fifth set, you still can win this match.

I think if your heart is in the right place and you're prepared to work and you're fit enough and your game is strong enough, you can come out a winner.

I think that's where a lot of players, you know, in that category, that's how you rise to the top. That's how I think someone like Roger Federer, you know, it's unbelievable how he's played so much and then felt, you know, what can I do now? And then finally, you know, in his own mind, he says, I-want-to-play-until-I'm-40 attitude.

He went back and found a therapist and a trainer and coach, and, you know, it's amazing to think here's this guy that's 37 winning the Australian championship and beating Nadal in the final.

So, you know, it's possible to do a lot of things. It's how you apply yourself. Are you prepared to put the effort in, the training, before you get onto the court? Are you going to be fit?

And I think that's some of the things that, you know, you get that experience of going into -- you know, it's like Rafa -- not Rafa, but Novak. You know, coming, you know, to this tournament, and knowing if he won this one he will have won all four, but also it's the start of winning all in one year with the Australian, which is the beginning of a Grand Slam.

It's great to see, you know, all the players that are out there competing, because, you know, the public loves to see it. They want to see the best. That experience brings those top guys to be the best.

Q. When you won here in '69, obviously most players were using the single-handed backhand and the two-handed basically took over the game. But recently, quite a few of the young guys have started using the one-handed backhand again. I wonder if you would encourage more young players to do that? What do you see as the advantages? Or is it more an aesthetic choice these days rather than a practical choice?
ROD LAVER: Yeah, sometimes it's tough for a double-handed person to be able to -- you know, yes, you can play the ball well. There are some that perfect it. Novak is probably the first one that's been great. But I think the one hand gives you more flexibility of being able to do a lot more different shots.

You know, I think there is no answer to saying, Well, what do you want? But if you happen to be a young child picking up, and a lot of times back in the wooden days you had to have two hands on your racquet, otherwise you couldn't lift it. So that is one of the reasons wooden racquets had a bunch of players who used two hands.

But now you have racquets, I don't know whether it's accurate or not, but I think they said Nadal has something that weighs about six ounces. You whip that thing around. But you've got a lot of players of today that have, you know, unbelievable backhands, single-handers.

But you also have the same group that are double-handers. I think the flair is, you know, what can you really do with the game. I think there is a lot that semi-use single hand or sometimes go to double hands.

But I think the single hand allows you more flexibility. And you look at not too many of the double-handers from the baseline try to make a dropshot. Novak can certainly do it, but he never does it from back behind the baseline at all. He's up ready and catches the ball early and comes under it. So he can do it.

But you're looking at someone like Roger Federer, you know, he'll dropshot a serve, service return. So, you know, one single hand maybe supplies more of that as opposed to the double-hander which probably goes with more power and speed.

Q. Going back to holding all four Grand Slams at the same time, point of context, how big of an achievement that is, how you felt when you achieved it, and how big of an achievement in the context of your whole career.
ROD LAVER: Well, I think any time you win any of the Grand Slams, you know, you feel you have accomplished a tremendous amount. But, you know, for me, in '69, I guess -- '62 I played Roy Emerson in the final of the Australian, the French, and the U.S. At Wimbledon, he, I think, strained his big toe or something, and, you know, couldn't play, but there is a lot of the sameness.

We played, I remember, at Forest Hills. I've got match point in '62. You know, he's got a forehand down the line and it's too long and it's over. So it's over in an instant, but, you know, the memories last forever.

So I'm thrilled that, you know, I was able to accomplish. There's no way that I was aiming at it. Yes, I entered the tournament, but your hopes are not to win a Grand Slam; it's to win a tournament.

Back in, I guess, 1956, I was watching the U.S. championship, and, you know, my idol was Lew Hoad. He had won the three legs and he's now at the US Open and he's in the final against Rosewall. That was the first time I understood anything about what a Grand Slam was. Unfortunately, Rosewall beat him in that particular final.

It's an achievement. Any achievement in the Grand Slams, you're held in high esteem if you've won any -- the French, any of the top players would love to win one of these tournaments.

Q. Can you compare what Novak Djokovic is trying to do this year, winning four in a row for the second time? And you doing the same but in the same years? How do you rank Djokovic in the history of the game between Federer and Nadal?
ROD LAVER: You know, they all play a little differently. You look at their record, which is really how you summarize who the best players are. And I think Novak is certainly equal to -- I think you look at three of them, you look at Novak and Rafa and Roger. To me, they are three just huge champions.

I don't know what their record against each other is all the time, but it's amazing to see, you know, players like that that are so in love with the game. They're prepared to put the effort in and know about the game, as well as being able to play it at its best.

So I don't know. I don't know as I put one above the other because of the fact that tennis was just so fortunate to have almost, like -- and with Murray, and adding Murray in there, as well, so you have four great champions that are representing the game of tennis.

You know, right behind them is another group that are coming up. So, you know, I think it's hard to think -- you know, I always thought that someone like, you know, Roger Federer was, you know, just the way he plays and what he does around the court, what he does off the court, you know, I think he's a well-rounded champion.

I think all of them are just brilliant on the court.

Q. (Question off microphone.)
ROD LAVER: Yeah, no, I don't put myself in any category where, you know, I'm comparing myself against someone else's record, because, you know, it's a different world now. '62 was the Grand Slams, and now, you know, you've got so many players coming up, different equipment that you're playing with, different courts that you're involved in.

So it's, you know, a different world. You know, I would think they're all -- you know, the three of them are great champions.

Q. When you see the top players today like Novak or Roger or Serena Williams on the woman's side, as they are getting older they seem to focus only on the biggest events, especially on the Grand Slam. At your time it was different, because you play a lot of tournaments with the same dedication, I think. Do you think you could be able to do that, to play maybe less tournaments and still get confidence enough to play your best tennis?
ROD LAVER: I don't know. I didn't quite get all that. Say that...

Q. You think you could be able to play less tournaments at your time and still be able to play your best tennis?
ROD LAVER: I guess if you're looking at the amount of tournaments that I played in, in the amateur world, we had to play each week in a row otherwise we didn't have any money. You had to get accommodation and meals, and so you're playing all the time. But you're also learning at that stage.

But I think in '69, you know, I think I played, you know, all the way through every week. For me, you know, playing every week is good for me. I never really got -- I wouldn't say stale, but I-don't-want-to-play-anymore attitude. I never really felt that way.

You just knew when you're out competing, I think it's nice to be able to take a week off here and there, but it's not like a three-week span from playing tennis. You know, I think you'll see a lot of players that they're breaking away now for maybe it's more training or fitness or working on a specific shot.

One instance is, you know, when we played -- all the players of today are foot-faulting. We weren't allowed to move your foot. If you put your foot down, you move it, and you jump at all, that's a foot fault.

So, you know, it's a different time now with so many things that are going on. You know, I think Arthur Ashe, back in our era, he was the one that invented this idea of jumping and serving. We, as tennis players, when you learned the game, you set your foot down and you didn't move it, because then you've got balance.

But today they have perfected things. And I think if you say, Well, I want to maybe stop for two weeks, three weeks, learn how to serve and time that ball when you're jumping to the ball. Those sort of little things are different. That's why you maybe pull off the circuit and say, I have got to learn to do this, whether it be a topspin backhand or whether it be a second serve that you're trying to be more proficient at.

Some of the players of today may be well advised to learn how to volley a little better. But when we played on the grass, if the ball -- back in those years, a lot of those balls didn't bounce. So you better get to the ball on the fly and play that level of tennis, not waiting for the ball to bounce and have erratic bounces.

I think there is a few things that people on the world tour now could help themselves in that category, because they're just, from the baseline, I mean, they're just deadly proficient.

Q. Two things. Your thoughts on what Ash Barty has achieved so far this year and what she's doing here. Second part is if you had to highlight French '62, French '69, would they be level or would one be higher than the other?
ROD LAVER: Yeah. Well, Ash Barty, it's amazing what she has accomplished here. A couple of years back, she was a good doubles player and played some, you know, attractive singles. But something happened. She says, I know how to win matches now, and I think that's what Barty has accomplished this year.

I know she won a tournament not too far back where I think it was one of the top players, and I didn't see the match, but when I read that she finished off the match with three aces, and, you know, she's 5-foot-nothing. I said, Well, that has to be a misprint. How did she do that?

So, you know, her improvement -- and I think it's more confidence than anything else. Most players with inferior games, but with confidence, you can make anything happen.

I think, you know, the slam in '69 was certainly, I would have to say it was tougher. But I think also, you know, the caliber of players that I competed against made it much more meaningful to pull that off.

You know, I told my wife in '69, I said, You know, all four majors are open now. Earlier in '68, you know, the Australian wasn't in there. So I thought, you know, I want to play the best. I said, Enter me in all the four tournaments. That was really where it started off.

You're just thinking, Well, I'm playing in Brisbane, my own hometown, I thought, Well, that will be an easy round to get to.

So, you know, that, to me, was probably the best advice anybody gave me. Just enter all four tournaments. Give whatever you've got. You know, if you don't have any injuries and you stay fit, you know, I think that's the ultimate.

Again, the same thing is if you can pull it off and play some of your best tennis, you know, it doesn't have to mean a Grand Slam. Just the fact that you have competed, and if you won one of them or two of them, you know, I was happy.

Q. Here Federer didn't beat incredible rivals, but he is playing in so incredible way. Every time I watch him, I am a lot of emotions inside me coming from surprise to excitement. I'm not a Jesus of tennis like you, a god of tennis, but what your feelings are when you watch someone so different compared to the others like Roger, especially on clay these days at 37. Do you think he has a reasonable way and the possibility to win this tournament?
ROD LAVER: Yeah, it's amazing that Roger, he's almost going into two categories, I mean, two levels. You know, he played the game back with so many tournaments he won from the Australian, Wimbledon, and down the line, but then to see him, you know, back off -- maybe, not that he had injuries, but I think confidence, things of that, and then to see himself at, you know, 35 or 36, think, I'm going to play myself, because I like this game so much, that I'm prepared to put the effort in, to learn how to play the game with my body in today's world.

It's uncanny how he's pulled it all together. I think one of them is that specific shot was the dropshot. I think people now, they have to -- they know it's perfected. Unless you know it's going to happen, you're going to have trouble getting there.

But, I mean, he's now, he's one-upped everybody with that particular shot. You know, he knows how to do it. He knows how to play it. He doesn't do it too much. And so, you know, it's great to see, you know, someone like Roger being able to apply himself all over again almost.

He's got everything in his repertoire. I think one of the things we said a little earlier, if the guy is able to compete and play under pressure and pull off the shots that other people wouldn't even try, but he's doing it under extreme pressure.

It's a break-of-serve point, it's adding up, but if he can do that as a normal in a game of tennis, I mean, you've got to take your hat off to him that here he is now, he's winning, he's won the Australian and Wimbledon, but he enjoys the game. And I think that's what comes out, you know, when you see him play.

And I think -- well, most of the guys are the same way, but they enjoy the sport, and I think looking at whether it be Nadal with that left-handed forehand, it's uncanny how he can chase a ball down in any position and hit a winner. You think, Well, how do you do that?

That's really an art. He's perfected it.

Q. To win? To win here?
ROD LAVER: To win here? I don't know whether Roger's -- he's certainly in it and he's certainly playing well, but I don't know if anyone has really pushed him yet. I think he's being -- he'll be pushed a lot more when it comes to some of the younger players coming up through the ranks.

But only one thing is true: You only have to win seven matches. That's all you have to do. You don't have to win 128 of them. So therefore, your schedule and your competition, whoever is out there -- yeah, I think someone like Rafa is going to be tough if Roger and those two meet.

I don't know. I'm probably favoring Novak at the moment and then Rafa and then it goes down the line. Then it's who's going to play who.

Q. Taking you back to 1969 and that final, the final match of that Grand Slam, what was the pressure like in America, in the US Open going into the final? Was there a media circus around you or were you just fairly calm, it's just another match?
ROD LAVER: You know, I didn't feel the pressure. I really didn't. If there was more pressure, I felt like I played my best tennis was when the pressure was on.

You know, looking at, you know, the last three days of the US Open, we had quite a lot of rain. I think I played Ashe in the semifinal. We played, I think, three sets, and then we had to stop because of darkness. I came back and played that match to get into the final.

But it rained for, like, two or three days. Yes, the court was semicovered. I wouldn't call a grass court -- it wasn't covered that well.

When we went out to play after two days of just waiting, yeah, the pressure was certainly there, but it wasn't something that it gave an impact on my game. My game was still the same. But it's just how are you going to apply yourself? And I remember, I think -- I owned spikes, you know, which is like, there are spikes that are cut off, running spike, but they're about three-eighths of an inch long, blunt. I brought them with me, thinking, Oh, would I ever use spikes? But I knew the grass at Forest Hills was always slippery.

I remember walking onto the court against a fellow called -- Billie Talbert was the referee. I said, You know, if I can't stand up and slipping all over, can I put spikes on? They said you can put whatever you want, because this is the last match that's being played here.

When I look back at some of the photos, it looked like, you know, you could have been planting potatoes out there. It was so torn up. Because it was so soft that I was actually skidding in spikes.

I mean, that sort of pressure -- yeah, and maybe playing someone like Tony Roche wasn't my favorite opponent, because being a left-hander, I never really played left-handers too much. In fact, when I turned pro in '62 -- '63 I mean, for five years I never saw a left-hander, I never saw a left-hander until I went Open tennis again.

So it's a different world out there, but I always thought you have to apply yourself. Bad bounces was the name of the game back in our era, getting on grass courts.

I don't know. Pressure is certainly everywhere when you're playing matches. Depends on whether -- I think it's just how you apply yourself and how many chances -- if you lose your serve early in a set, that's pressure. You've got to get yourself back into the game again. And so, you know, I think it's the way you play, if you compete, if you compete all the time, every match, every ball, every point.

And I think that is the way I played. Maybe that helped me getting over some of the pressures, that I didn't get the pressure, because I didn't lose a lot of these matches, that -- there were chances that came up, and I'm not going to be down 15-40 all the time. You know, I found myself up 15-40. And I think that takes some of the pressure away.

Q. In the early '70s, after your Grand Slam in 1969, there were a bunch of majors you didn't play. You didn't play all four every year. You skipped quite a few of them. But again, you were not the only one. In the '80s and '90s, a lot of players did that, whereas today that's unthinkable for a top player to only play one or two a year. If you could just, in general, make a comment about back then, why that wasn't necessarily a priority, or for one reason or another why top players chose not to play some of them.
ROD LAVER: Yeah. Well, I don't know. Like you say, for me, when I turned pro in, you know, at '63 through '69, I wasn't eligible. I couldn't even play in them. But, you know, some of the other players did probably -- you know, not put the emphasis on, if you're a great player, why wouldn't you be playing there?

And I don't know why they would have pulled out. But the emphasis on the Grand Slams -- not the Grand Slams, but the Grand Slam tournaments, you know, it wasn't anything like the power of what a Grand Slam means today. Yes, they played, but I don't think they find themselves saying, Oh, I've got to win the Australian, I've got to win the French. They say, Well, maybe I'll enter, maybe I won't.

Now it's night and day on how players put their schedule together.

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