Roger Federer has been labelled the Greatest of all Time (GOAT) on a number of occasions in the past and he strengthened his case by winning his 20th men's singles Grand Slam title at the 2018 Australian Open in January.
However, there has been another name mentioned when it comes to the GOAT and that is Rod Laver, who is the only player to achieve the calendar Grand Slam – winning all four majors in the same year – on two occasions.
However, that talk could now be settled after the Australian tennis Hall of Famer labelled the Swiss ace as the best ever for his feats during his 20-year professional career. Laver praised Rafael Nadal, who has won 16 major titles, which include 10 French Open titles, but admitted that the Spaniard cannot be compared to Federer, who has excelled in all surfaces on a consistent basis.
Federer struggled with injury in 2016 and had last won a major in 2012 at Wimbledon. A number of questions were raised about his future in the game and whether he could get back to challenging for the top titles.
The eight-time Wimbledon winner silenced his critics with a new brand of aggressive tennis that saw him capture seven titles in 2017, which included two majors and three Masters Series titles. He has continued that form this year and defended his title in Melbourne at the Australian Open.
Federer is ranked number two in the world, but he is just 155-points behind his long-time rival Nadal, who is currently the world number one. Laver believes the Swiss star's ability to change his playing style to keep his fitness levels high is one of the main reasons he continues to be successful at an age when most sport professionals are pondering retirement.
"Yes, we've got lots of great players — look at (Rafael) Nadal with a record that says 'I've just won 10 French Opens', and you can't sort of push that under the mat," Laver said, as quoted by Tennis World USA. "But I think Roger plays his greatest tennis on the big occasions, on any surface. He's stood the test of time — that's probably the one thing that puts you in that category of the best ever."
"You just marvel at his tenacity and his floating ability on the court. He just seems like he's floating all around the court — he's not running. That's something else. I marvel at the age of 36 to be playing, which I think in many ways is the best tennis that he's played.
"A few years ago he didn't have that same backhand that he has now, his volleying ability at the net and around the court is always...you say to people 'where did he learn all this?', because when he was younger he stayed at the baseline," the Australian great explained.
"Now he's shortening the points and that's the difference in being able to hold your fitness level and have your legs strong for a long match. It was something that you look at and think 'how long can he do this?' It's pretty taxing on your energy level to play tennis at the top level."