Laver uses his wrist more than any other player in history except Frank Kovacs and he is the first player to combine a whipping wrist action with near-perfect control. Laver can hit a ball fiat, with topspin or with underspin, equally well from both sides. Like a squash player, he adds power to a shot and disguises its direction by putting wrist into his shot at the moment of impact. Few players have his repertory of strokes, and no player has been able to mask his shots better. He has tremendous kick on his serve, and his second serve finds its twisting way so deep in the service court that it often hits the chalk. But perhaps his greatest ability is to make forcing shots of returns that most players would be happy to get back at all. He is cool, too. Last July the jet that was carrying him to matches in Hilversum, in The Netherlands, suddenly dived sharply to avoid colliding with another plane. Thirteen passengers had to be carried off the plane by stretcher-bearers, while the remainder left considerably shaken by the experience. Laver changed clothes, marched out onto the court and easily defeated his opponent. A Dutch official commented, "He nearly gets killed and then he comes out here and plays as if nothing had happened." Add to all this the most effective smash in amateur tennis today, the most lethal serve any man under 5 feet 10 has yet uncorked, an uncanny ability to hit finishing volleys from almost anywhere in midcourt (Laver never just puts the ball in play) and the fact that his left-handed shots curve and spin exactly opposite to what his opponents are accustomed to—and Rod Laver becomes a formidable opponent indeed.
In one seemingly effortless match after another at Forest Hills, Rod Laver demonstrated this fact to, respectively, Israel's Eleazar Davidman, Ecuador's Eduardo Zuleta, Germany's Bodo Nitsche, Mexico's Antonio Palafox, Florida's Frank Froehling, Mexico's Rafael Osuna and, finally, his own countryman, Roy Emerson, the defending champion.
Considering the stakes, the pressures weighing on Laver as he went against Emerson—who had taken him in straight sets last year—were enormous. However, Rocket Rod faced his opponent as cool as a koala, and used the same tactics against him that he had used the day before on Osuna. He hit wildly spinning, hard, shoetop-high shots almost impossible to volley. Very often he hit the ball so fast that Emerson could merely watch as it skimmed by. On service, as usual, he was all but invincible. For a brief moment early in the third set Laver grew careless, and Emerson, taking heart, won the set 7-5. But in the final set Laver broke service in the very first game and was never headed. His three-sets-to-one victory for the coveted Grand Slam was almost an anticlimax. Rod tossed his racket in the air, put a towel to his face, leaned wearily against the umpire's stand and finally—for the first time in the tournament—smiled.
Laver's triumph was a personal one, but it capped an unprecedented all-Australian sweep of the U.S. tournament. Not only had two Aussies contested the men's finals but, for the first time ever, an Australian girl, Margaret Smith, had won the women's championship. Titian-haired Margaret, 20-year-old daughter of an ice-cream packer, is big-boned, determined, earnest and skilled. Margaret has been ostracized by Australian tennis officials for sassing her elders and refusing to take orders from her team mother. None of the other Aussies were allowed even to practice with her at Forest Hills. But these things seemed to trouble her not at all as she beat twice-champion Darlene Hard 9-7, 6-4 in a finals match notable mostly for bad calls and a weeping spell by Darlene. To finish up, the Australian team of Smith and Fred Stolle won the mixed doubles. There was something for everybody at Forest Hills, all right—but it helped if you happened to be an Australian.