When Rod Laver speaks, the tennis world listens.

Well he spoke earlier this week, and his words turned more than a few heads.

The 11-time Grand Slam champion—who happens to be only player in history to capture the calendar-year Slam twice—believes that Novak Djokovic has equaled Roger Federer in the greatest-of-all-time debate.

"I don't think you put one of those two above the other when you look at their performances," the 77-year-old Australian told ESPN.com. "You know what Roger's record is. But the way that Djokovic has been playing over the last year or so, I would say that Djokovic and Federer are equals.

"When you look at Djokovic's performances and his results, you just have to say, 'Hey, this guy's unbelievable, and how can you look past him when discussing who is the best ever?'"

The numbers speak for themselves. Federer’s 17 singles majors are the most of all-time. Djokovic, six years the Swiss’ junior, has 11 major titles. But the eye test tells us that Djokovic, who has been the most dominant player in the sport for the better part of two years and has won four of the past five Slams, has a lot more championships in him.


The world No. 1 took home his sixth Australian Open trophy in January and has won titles in Doha, Indian Wells and Miami this season. His record? A sparkling 30-2.

Federer, on the other hand, has been beset by injuries in 2016. The world No. 2 reached the semifinals in Melbourne—where he lost to Djokovic in four sets—but has competed in just two other events and has yet to win a title.

He withdrew from the Madrid Open earlier this week but hopes to play in the Rome Masters with the French Open right around the corner.

Federer won his last Slam back in 2012, at Wimbledon, but Laver isn’t ruling out No. 18 for the 34-year-old legend.

"Wimbledon inspires Roger," Laver told ESPN.com. "If he's going to win another Grand Slam, his best chance is at Wimbledon. The tournament inspires him a tremendous amount. He can also play well at the U.S. Open. It's definitely possible he can win another one."

Djokovic, who defeated Roberto Bautista Agut, 6-2, 6-1, in the third round of the Madrid Open on Thursday, has yet to be the last man standing at Roland Garros. It’s the one Grand Slam that has eluded the Serb—he’s been a finalist three times—and if he finally finishes the job in Paris this summer he’ll hold all four Grand Slams at once.

Djokovic’s victory over Federer in Melbourne gave the former a 23-22 lead in their head-to-head.