Tony Roche compares Roger Federer to Rod Laver
From the FoxSports site:
Tony Roche compares Roger Federer to the Rockhampton Rocket, Rod Laver
By Darren Walton
January 31, 2009
TONY Roche believes it is inevitable that Roger Federer will eclipse Pete Sampras's all-time record 14 grand slam titles - even if the Swiss star fails to even match the American with success over Rafael Nadal in the Australian Open final.
Hailing Federer the most elegant player he had seen, Roche declared the Swiss master on an irreversible journey to tennis immortality.
“At the moment, he's one of the greatest players of all time and, if he stays healthy and continues to win grand slams, he'll go down as the greatest player,'' Roche said.
“It's probably just a matter of time before he breaks Sampras's record.''
Roche lauded Federer as the complete player and, fittingly on the 40th anniversary of Rod Laver's 1969 grand slam sweep, likened the Swiss ace to the Rockhampton Rocket.
“He plays the game the way it should be played,'' Roche said.
“He's got all the shots; he's got variation. He can slice, he can volley, he mixes it up well.
“He's a great mover; he's got beautiful balance. He's smart; his court craft is very good.
“And also his temperament. I think that helps him a lot. He seems to be quite calm and collected in tough situations.
“And like all champions, he plays his best when he needs to.''
Roche, who coached the 27-year-old for from 2005-07, during which the Swiss ace collected six majors, said the French Open remained the long-time former world No.1's last frontier.
“He'd love to win the French. If he can achieve that, he's definitely the greatest player that's ever lived,'' Roche said.
And the 1966 French champion believes Federer, a three-times runner-up to Nadal at Roland Garros, has the game to triumph in Paris.
“He's played some good matches against Nadal on clay,'' Roche said.
“I remember in Rome a couple of years ago he pushed him to five sets, had match points. He beat him in Hamburg.
“He struggles a little bit in Paris but I think it's just maybe the conditions need to be in Roger's favour - with the weather and the climate.
“If that happens, yeah, it's possible.''
And, in the ultimate accolade, Roche - who also has coached fellow world No.1s Pat Rafter and Ivan Lendl and now mentors Lleyton Hewitt - said Federer was the one modern-day player he'd love to have seen taken on Laver in his prime.
“He is the one player playing the game today that you could put a wooden racquet in his hand and he'd probably play just as well,'' he said.
“It would be a good match.''
Fave players: .. Seles .. Hingis .. Serena .. Venus .. Molik .. Stosur .. Sharapova .. Federer .. Roddick .. Hewitt .. Haas .. Rafter .. Safin ..
70s: Evonne Goolagong .. Francoise Durr .. Chris Evert .. Margaret Court .. Nancy Richey .. Maria Bueno .. Billie-Jean King .. Virginia Wade .. Ken Rosewall .. Rod Laver ..
Entertainers: .. Diana Ross .. Dionne Warwick .. Shirley Bassey .. Roberta Flack .. Randy Crawford .. Burt Bacharach .. ABBA .. Woody Allen .. Maggie Smith .. Gena Rowlands .. Judy Davis .. Heath Ledger .. Little Britain ..
Inspiration: .. Jeshua Ben Josepth .. A Course in Miracles .. Conversations with God .. Abraham with Esther & Jerry Hicks ..