Rafa Slam Vs. Laver’s Grand Slam. Which One is Better?

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?

About gregcouch

I can talk tennis all day long, and often do. And yet some of the people I talk to about it might rather I talk about something else. Or with someone else. That’s how it is with tennis, right? Sort of an addiction. Sort of a high. I am a national columnist at FoxSports.com and a FoxSports1 TV insider, and have been a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2010, I was the only American sports writer to cover the full two weeks of all four majors, and also to cover each of the U.S. Masters series events. I’ve seen a lot of tennis, talked with a lot of players, coaches, agents. I watched from a few rows behind the line judge as Serena rolled her foot onto the baseline for the footfault, a good call, at the 2009 U.S. Open. I sat forever watching a John Isner marathon, leaving for Wimbledon village to watch an England World Cup soccer game at a pub and then returning for hours of Isner, sitting a few feet from his wrecked coach. I got to see Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling joke around on a practice court on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon, placing a small wager on a tiebreaker. Djokovic won, and Soderling pulled a bill out of his wallet, crumpled it into his fist and threw it at Djokovic, who unwadded it, kissed it, and told me, “My work is done here.’’ And when Rafael Nadal won the French Open in 2010, I finished my column, walked back out onto the court, and filled an empty tic tac container with the red clay. I’m looking at it right now. Well, I don’t always see the game the same way others do. I can be hard on tennis, particularly on the characters in suits running it. Tennis has no less scandal and dirt than any other game. Yet somehow, it seems to be covered up, usually from an incredible web of conflicts of interest. I promise to always tell the truth as I see it. Of course, I would appreciate it if you’d let me know when I’m wrong. I love sports arguments and hope to be in a few of them with you here. Personal info: One-handed backhand, serve-and-volleyer. View all posts by gregcouch

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