- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
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- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
You somehow overheard the comment I made just after Roger Federer won the French Open: "Now maybe SI will give Roger his proper recognition on the cover."
Roger Federer is indeed the greatest tennis player ever (Is He the Greatest of All Time? June 15). In the past five French Opens, before winning this year, Federer lost only to Rafael Nadal, arguably the greatest clay court player ever. By contrast Pete Sampras, who made it as far as the French semis only once, lost to many different players. Also, I give Federer the nod over Rod Laver because tennis was more of a country club sport back in Laver's day, and now many more great athletes play the game.
Laver is the only player to win two Grand Slams—in 1962, while still an amateur; and 1969, after the ban on professionals in slam events was lifted. That ban also prevented Laver from winning more than his 11 singles slam titles because he turned professional in 1963. Beyond that, Laver played in a competitive era, facing Ken Rosewall, John Newcombe, Roy Emerson, Manuel Santana, Arthur Ashe, Tony Roche, Fred Stolle and Rafael Osuna. Laver was the best ever.
Until someone bests Bjorn Borg's triple double, in which he won both the French Open and Wimbledon in 1978, '79 and '80, he remains the greatest.
In this discussion let's not neglect Roy Emerson, the only man to achieve a career Grand Slam in singles and doubles.
Whenever you run a photo in which the crowd is prominent, as you did with your NBA Finals story (Final Strategies, June 15), I scan the fans' faces. This time one caught my eye: Dude, that is McLovin in the front row!
EDITOR'S NOTE: Yes, that is Superbad's McLovin, a.k.a. actor Christopher Mintz-Plasse.
The Good Raider
Every pro athlete should read Jim Trotter's fantastic article on Oakland cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha (A Name Worth Knowing, June 15). Then they might see how much good they could do with their stature, their money and, more important, their time. Asomugha's example shows the value of getting intimately involved and making a difference in people's lives.