Next month’s Australian Open will celebrate the 40th anniversary of Rod Laver’s Grand Slam achievement when the Australian tennis great will be reunited with the four players he beat in the Grand Slam finals of 1969, organizers said yesterday.
Laver’s achievement of twice winning the Grand Slam of the French, Wimbledon, US and Australian crowns in one calendar year in 1962 and 1969 remains unmatched in men’s tennis.
The “Rockhampton Rocket,” who made a good recovery from a stroke that he suffered 10 years ago, will be reunited with the four players he beat in the four Slam finals — Spaniard Andres Gimeno (Australian Open), and Australians Ken Rosewall (French Open), John Newcombe (Wimbledon) and Tony Roche (US Open).
All five tennis greats will get together for a special panel chat about their roles in tennis history at a luncheon on Jan. 31 during the 2009 Australian Open, organizers said.
Gimeno, 71, whose French Open triumph at Roland Garros at the age of 35 makes him the oldest player to win a Grand Slam final, is travelling from Barcelona for the event.
Rosewall, Roche and Newcombe are all legends of Australian tennis with 60 Grand Slam titles between them, 16 of them in singles.
The Australian Open, which takes place in Melbourne from Jan. 19 to Feb. 1, has named its main show court the Rod Laver Arena.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY STAFF WRITER