From my column on AOL Fanhouse
The question going around about Rafael Nadal is the wrong one. If he wins the Australian Open, which starts Sunday night (7:00 p.m. E.T.), it will be his fourth consecutive major championship. It will be just the fourth time any man has held all four trophies.
But will it be a Grand Slam?
“It’s not a Grand Slam, but it’s a great effort,” Rod Laver told the Associated Press.
“People will say, ‘He’s going for a Grand Slam,’ and I say, `No, he’s not doing that.’ That wasn’t the way this whole thing was set up.”
It might sound self-serving coming from Laver, the last man to win the Grand Slam. But the thing is, he’s right. You have to win all four majors in the same calendar year for it to be a Slam. Don Budge did it once, Laver did it twice, and Nadal cannot do it in Melbourne in two weeks.
The term has been messed up, as players such as Andy Murray think that winning one major is winning a Slam. And the International Tennis Federation, the sport’s most powerful governing body, says Nadal will, officially, hold the Grand Slam if he wins.
Both are wrong. But there is no need to get hung up on this. A Grand Slam is a measure of history, and if we’re talking about a historic 12 months of major championships, then the real question is this:
To me, Nadal’s best is better than Federer’s best, with the only question being longevity. But a fourth consecutive major would give Nadal something Federer doesn’t have, and never will have.
If Nadal wins the Australian Open, will his accomplishment be less impressive than Laver’s?