- 1 Amateur career
- 2 Pro career until April, 1968
- 3 Pro career after April, 1968
- 4 True Open career: August 1972 to 1980
- 5 Singles titles 1951-1977
- 6 Pro tours won, 1957 to 1967
- 7 Team events
- 8 Rosewall–Laver head-to-head matches
- 9 Grand Slam Tournament wins
- 10 Miscellaneous comments
- 11 Honors
- 12 References
Kenneth Robert ("Ken") Rosewall (November 2, 1934, Sydney, Australia) is a former tennis player who is considered to be one of the top male players of all time. A winner of many titles, both as an amateur and as a professional, he enjoyed an exceptionally long career at the very highest levels from the early 1950s to the early 1970s. He had a renowned sliced backhand that, along with the topspin backhand of Don Budge, is frequently called one of the two best of all time. Rosewall was the World No. 1 or the co-Number 1 player for a number of years in the early 1960s. Never seriously injured during his career, he was ranked, either as an amateur or as a professional, among the top 20 players for a remarkable 27 years from 1952 to 1977. As a youth, he also teamed up with fellow Australian and long-time rival Lew Hoad to play both doubles and singles for the successful Australian Davis Cup teams of the early 1950s.
Born into a family that played tennis and owned tennis courts, Rosewall was a natural left-hander but was taught by his father to play right-handed. Perhaps as a result of this unorthodox training (or in spite of it), he developed a powerful and very effective backhand but never had anything more than an accurate but relatively soft serve. Only 1.70 m tall (5 ft. 7 in.) and weighing 67 kg (145 pounds), Rosewall was sardonically (or "affectionately" according to Time magazine in 1952) called "Muscles" by his fellow-players because of his lack of them. He was, however, fast, agile, and tireless; with a crisp volley, a fine overhead, and a deadly return of service, he held his own against far more powerful players for more than two decades.
At the age of 15 and still a junior player, Rosewall reached the semifinals of the 1950 New South Wales Metropolitan Championships (not to be confused with the New South Wales Championships), where he was defeated by the world-class adult player Ken McGregor. The following year he won his first men's tournament in Manly, Australia.
In 1952, still only 17, Rosewall reached the quarterfinals of the U.S. Championships, upsetting the top-seeded Vic Seixas in the fourth round 3-6, 6-2, 7-5, 5-7, 6-3 before losing to Gardnar Mulloy in five sets. In his end-of-the-year rankings, the British tennis expert Lance Tingay ranked Rosewall and Lew Hoad, his equally youthful doubles partner, jointly as the tenth best amateur player in the world.
Rosewall was only 18 years old when he won the singles titles at the Australian Championships, the French Championships, and the Pacific Southwest Championships in 1953. He was the top seed at Wimbledon but lost a quarterfinal match to Kurt Nielsen. Rosewall then reached the semifinals at the U.S. Championships, where he was defeated by Tony Trabert 7-5, 6-3, 6-3. Rosewall lost again to Trabert in the Challenge Round of the Davis Cup in Melbourne, Australia 6-3, 6-4, 6-4. Rosewall, however, won the fifth and deciding rubber of that tie, defeating Seixas 6-2, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4. At the end of the year, Tingay placed Trabert first and Rosewall second in his annual amateur rankings.
Rosewall won the singles title for the second time at the Australian Championships in 1955, defeating Hoad in the final 9-7, 6-4, 6-4. That was the only Grand Slam tournament Trabert did not win in 1955. At the U.S. Championships, Trabert defeated Rosewall in the final 9-7, 6-3, 6-3.
In 1956, Rosewall and Hoad captured all of the Grand Slam titles in men's doubles except at the French Championships. For several years in their youthful careers, Rosewall and Hoad were known as "The Gold-dust Twins." In singles, Rosewall lost to Hoad in the finals of two Grand Slam tournaments. At the Australian Championships, Hoad defeated Rosewall 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5. At Wimbledon, Hoad won 6-2, 4-6, 7-5, 6-4. Rosewall, however, prevented Hoad from winning the Grand Slam when Rosewall won their final at the U.S. Championships 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3.
During his amateur career, Rosewall helped Australia win three Davis Cup Challenge Rounds (1953, 1955, and 1956) : Rosewall won 15 of the 17 Davis Cup singles rubbers he played those years, including the last 14 in a row.
Pro career until April, 1968
Promoter and former tennis great Jack Kramer tried to sign the "Whiz Kids" (Hoad and Rosewall) in late 1955 without success, but one year later Rosewall accepted Kramer's offer. Rosewall, during the Challenge Round of the Davis Cup, tried to convince his partner Hoad to do the same but he turned down the proposition.
Rosewall played his first professional match on January 14, 1957 at Kooyong (Melbourne) against the reigning king of professional tennis, Pancho Gonzales. Rosewall explained later there was a huge gap between the amateur level and the pro level : in their series of head-to-head matches in Australia and in the US (until May) Rosewall was clearly beaten by Gonzales, 50 matches to 26. During this period Rosewall also entered two tournaments, the Australian Pro at Sydney in February and the U.S. Pro at Cleveland in April. He was respectively crushed in straight-sets by Sedgman (second best pro in 1956) and by Segura (third best pro in 1956). This confirmed the difference of level between the best professionals and the best amateurs at the time. After World War II many of the best amateurs failed in the pro ranks. Nevertheless other talented and hard-working players succeeded, after a few months or a year, to win important pro events: Kramer, Pancho Segura, Gonzales, Frank Sedgman, Trabert, Hoad, Andres Gimeno, Rod Laver and Rosewall, who in September 1957 took the Wembley crown beating Segura in a tournament where only Sedgman and Trabert among the best were missing. At the end of the year Rosewall won an Australian tour featuring Hoad, Sedgman and Segura.
In 1958 Rosewall had the opportunity to show that he was still one of the best if not the best player on clay. The previous year no French Pro (also entitled World Pro Championships on Clay when organized at Roland Garros) had been held but in 1958 the French Pro came back and Rosewall beat successively Kramer, Sedgman and an injured Hoad to claim the title. Rosewall was also second at Forest Hills Pro and second (with Gonzales and Sedgman) in the Masters Round Robin Pro in Los Angeles, the two tournaments being among the most important of the year.
In 1959 for the first time since he turned pro Rosewall led Gonzales, still the pro king, in head-to-head matches, 3-2 (even 5-2 according to The New York Times and the Sunday Times (England) according to Peter Rowley in Ken Rosewall Twenty Years at the Top, p. 182). Besides that Rosewall won the two 1959 editions of the Queensland pro (in January and December).
The following year Rosewall was incorporated in a new World Pro tour, from January to May, featuring Gonzales, Segura and new recruit Alejandro "Alex" Olmedo. This tour was perhaps the peak of Gonzales's entire career. The finals standings were: 1) Gonzales 49 matches won - 8 lost, 2) Rosewall 32-25, 3) Segura 22-28, 4) Olmedo 11-44. Rosewall was therefore far behind Gonzales on this tour, the American having won almost all their direct confrontations (14-3 sure and probably 15-4). Halfway through the North American part of the tour the standings were Gonzales 23-1 (his only match lost 6-4, 4-6, 13-11 to Olmedo in Philadelphia) and Rosewall 11-13.
Just after Gonzales played and won a minor tournament on May 16, 1960 he decided to retire (as often it was temporary because rapidly needing money Gonzales was back on December 30, 1960). In the absence of Gonzales, Rosewall clearly became the leader, winning six tournaments including the two greatest tournaments of the year, the French Pro at Roland Garros and Wembley Pro. Hoad was finalist in Paris and also won four tournaments making him second to Rosewall.
Measured to current standards Gonzales would not have been ranked number one because he had only played four and a half months in 1960 (one tour and one tournament): he wouldn't have accumulated enough "Race points" to be the first but in 50's or 60's standards he was, for many (McCauley in particular) the number one. At the time Hoad considered Gonzales the best (in L'Équipe in March 1961) and Rosewall didn't consider himself as the pro king but others thought that Rosewall's successes in the biggest tournaments made him the number one in the world (Robert Roy's ranking in L'Équipe). Robert Geist, in his biography, compromises by ranking them equal.
After ten years of World touring, Rosewall decided to take several long holidays in order to spend time with his family and he didn't enter any competition in the first half of 1961. He trained his long-time friend Hoad when the pros toured in Australia where Gonzales, back to the courts after a seven and a half-month retirement, won another World tour featuring Hoad, Olmedo (replacing Rosewall), Gimeno and the two new recruits MacKay and Buchholz (Segura, Trabert, Cooper and Sedgman sometimes replaced the injured players). In the summer Rosewall returned to the circuit and won the two biggest events (because all the best players participated and the events had a (small) tradition): the French Pro at Roland Garros (clay) and Wembley Pro (wood). At Roland Garros the Australian captured the title by beating Gonzales in the final 2-6 6-4 6-3 8-6 and at Wembley he defeated Hoad in the final, Gonzales's winner in the semifinals.
After having won on clay and on wood Rosewall ended the season by winning on grass at the New South Wales Championships, Sydney, cementing his status as the best all-court player that year.
Robert Roy of L'Équipe, Kléber Haedens and Philippe Chatrier of Tennis de France, Michel Sutter (who has published "Vainqueurs 1946-1991 Winners"), Christian Boussus (1931 Roland Garros amateur finalist), Peter Rowley, Robert Geist, Tony Trabert, John Newcombe, Rod Laver and also the New York Times and World Tennis magazine considered Rosewall as the new world number one (see World number one male tennis player rankings).
In 1962 Rosewall completely dominated the pro circuit; not only did he retain his Wembley and Roland Garros crowns, still the two biggest events by far in 1962, but he also won five (Adelaide, Melbourne, Geneva, Milan and Stockholm) of the next six biggest tournaments (in 1962 there were only small tours of lesser importance). He thus captured seven of the eight biggest events that year, the only one he lost was Zurich where he was defeated in the semifinals by Segura who in his turn left the title to Hoad. Rosewall also won two small tournaments in New Zealand and one more, the Australian TV Series.
Joe McCauley in The History of Professional Tennis traced 6 Rosewall's defeats in the whole year and Trabert in Tennis de France revealed another Rosewall's defeat : in an Australian TV series in February Rosewall won 10 matches consecutively but lost the last one (to Hoad) so Rosewall lost at least 7 matches in 1962.
In a grass court tour of Australia and New Zealand Rosewall defeated Laver 11 matches to 2 (Hoad crushed Laver 8-0). A US tour followed with Rosewall and Laver, Gimeno, Ayala and two Americans Buchholz and MacKay (Hoad was not chosen because there would have been to many Australians). In the first phase of this tour, lasting two and a half months, each player faced each other about eight times. Rosewall ended first (31 matches won - 10 lost in front of Laver (26-16), Buchholz (23-18), Gimeno (21-20), MacKay (12-29) and Ayala (11-30)). In the first month (the detailed results of the month and a half left are unknown) Rosewall faced Laver 4 times without any defeat. A second and final phase of the tour opposed the first (Rosewall) and the second (Laver) of the first phase to determine the final winner (the third (Buchholz) met the fourth (Gimeno)). In 18 matches Rosewall beat Laver 14 times to conquer the US tour first place (Gimeno beat Buchholz 11-7). In mid-May the tournament season started. In those occasions Rosewall only beat Laver 4-3 but Rosewall won 5 tournaments (against 4 to Laver) and in particular the 3 or 4 greatest tournaments of the year 1963: chronologically the U.S. Pro at Forest Hills (without Gimeno and Sedgman) on grass where he defeated Laver 6-4 6-2 6-2, the French Pro at Coubertin on wood where his victim in the final was again Laver who later praised his conqueror: "I played the finest tennis I believe I've ever produced, and he beat me", The Wembley Pro on wood (Hoad finalist) and the Italian Pro at Rome (beating Laver 6-4 6-3 in the final). In those tournaments Rosewall won 4 times while Laver reached 3 finals and 1 quarterfinal (Wembley), "Rocket" (Laver’s nickname) becoming thus the second player in the world. If we except 4 or 5 unknown results in confrontations taking place in the first phase of the US tour phase, Rosewall beat Laver 33 matches to 9. The fact that Rosewall also won the major events clearly indicates that he was the number one in 1963 but also that the best pros were almost certainly the best players in the world during the previous years.
In 1964 Rosewall won one main tournament: the French Pro over Laver on wood (at Coubertin). At the end of the South African tour, Rosewall also beat Laver 6-4 6-1 6-4 in a Challenge Match considered by some as a World Championship match, held in Ellis Park, Johannesburg. In the official pro points rankings (7 points for the winner, 4 points for the finalist, 3 points for the third player, 2 for the fourth one and 1 point to each quarter-finalists) taking into account 19 pro tournaments, Rosewall ended #1 in 1964 with 78 points beating #2 Laver (70 points) and #3 Gonzales (48 points). Nevertheless that ranking a) brushed aside at least 10 tournaments because McCauley has traced at least 29 pro tournaments played by the touring pros (plus some minor tournaments) and several short tours and b) granted each tournament the same points and then was unfair to the big events where Laver was globally superior to Rosewall.
The majority of tennis witnesses (Joe McCauley, Robert Geist, Michel Sutter... among the journalists and the players themselves) agreed this points rankings for they considered Rosewall the number one in 1964. Rod Laver himself after his triumph over Rosewall at Wembley said "I’ve still plenty of ambitions left and would like to be the World’s No.1. Despite this win, I am not that yet – Ken is. I may have beaten him more often than he has beaten me this year but he has won the biggest tournaments except here. I’ve lost to other people but Ken hasn’t." .
Laver has made a great season and could too claim the top rank. "Rocket" has captured two very great tournaments, a) the U.S. Pro (outside Boston) over Rosewall (suffering from food poisoning) and Gonzales and b) Wembley pro over Rosewall in one of their best match ever (Gonzales has won the probably fourth greatest tournament of that year, the U.S. Pro Indoors, at White Plains, defeating in succession Anderson, Laver, Hoad and Rosewall). Laver was equal to Rosewall in big direct confrontations, 2 all (Coubertin and Johannesburg for Rosewall, US Pro and Wembley for Laver).
Rosewall has the edge over Laver if we consider their clashes against their greatest rival, Gonzales : that year Rosewall has beaten Gonzales 11 times out of 14 while Laver was beaten by Gonzales 7 times out of 12. But Laver won one more tournament (including small 4-man events) than Rosewall (11 to 10) and above all Rocket was clearly superior to Rosewall in minor direct confrontations, defeating Rosewall ten times out of eleven making thus a 1964 Laver-Rosewall win-loss record of 12-3. So the pros leadership began to change.
Next year until mid-September Rosewall and Laver were quite equal, the latter winning more tournaments including the US Pro Indoors at New York City and the Masters Pro at Los Angeles but Rosewall struck two great blows during the summer of 1965 by winning very easily the U.S. Pro on the Longwood C.C (outside Boston) grass courts crushing Gonzales, 6-3 6-2 6-4, and Laver, 6-4 6-3 6-3, in the last rounds and again Laver, 6-3 6-2 6-4, in the French Pro on the fast wooden courts at Coubertin. But from Wembley to the end of the year, Laver became irresistible and Rosewall had to recognize Laver's supremacy.
1966 was the year of the greatest rivalry between the two Australians who dominated tennis. They shared all the titles and the finals of the five greatest tournaments. Rosewall won the Madison Square Garden (the biggest prize money ever to date) and his cherished French Pro tournaments over Laver, the latter capturing Forest Hills Pro, the U.S. Pro (outside Boston) and Wembley Pro with Rosewall finalist (or second) each time. Of the main tournaments contested by the troupe, Laver won 9, Rosewall 8 and Gimeno 3. If we include lesser tournaments Laver won 15, Rosewall 9 and Gimeno 6. In head-to-head matches between Rosewall and Laver, Rosewall won 6 out of 13. Rosewall was then the clear undisputed vice-king of the courts.
Rosewall's inevitable decline from being the world's top-ranked player began in 1967 at age 33 when he suffered several unexpected defeats and Laver reached the peak of his career; almost invincible on fast courts, Laver was now the undisputed professional king, while Gimeno threatened Rosewall's grip on second place.
The results of the 20 main tournaments of the year:
- Laver, ten titles including the 5 biggest ones, all played on fast courts (U.S. Pro outside Boston, French Pro, Wembley Pro, Wimbledon Pro, Madison Square Garden, World Pro in Oklahoma, Boston Pro (not to be confused with the U.S. Pro), Newport R.R., Johannesburg Ellis Park, Coubertin Pro in April (not to be confused with the French Pro at Coubertin in October)
- Rosewall, six titles (Los Angeles, Berkeley, U.S. Pro Hardcourt in St Louis, Newport Beach, Durban and Cape Town)
- Gimeno, three titles (Cincinnati, East London, Port Elizabeth) and d) Stolle, one tournament (Transvaal Pro).
Including lesser tournaments Laver's supremacy was even more obvious:
- Laver: 18 tournaments plus two small tours
- Rosewall: 7 tournaments
- Stolle: 4 tournaments
- Gimeno: 3 tournaments.
In head-to-head matches Rosewall trailed Laver 5-8 and was equal to Gimeno 7-7 (Gimeno-Laver: 4-12).
Before 1967 Gimeno always trailed Rosewall in direct confrontations but that year they split their matches. Rosewall defeated Gimeno in Los Angeles, Madison Square Garden, St Louis, Newport, Johannesburg (challenge match), Durban and Wembley whereas Gimeno won in Cincinnati, U.S. Pro, East London, Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg (tournament), Marseille, French Pro. Having won more tournaments than Gimeno, Rosewall deserved nevertheless the second place behind Laver, the latter being for the first year the #1 by far after the 1964-1966 close rivalry between the two Australians.
Forbidden to contest the greatest traditional events, Davis Cup and Grand Slams, during nearly eleven and a half years from 1957 to March 30, 1968, Rosewall reached his best level during this period, in particular from 1960 to 1966, by winning at least 62 tournaments (including 16 less-than-eight-man events) and 7 small tours.
Pro career after April, 1968
In 1968 there were many different sort of players:
- amateur players, dependent on their national and international federations, allowed to play the amateur events and also the open events but couldn't receive official prize money
- registered players, also dependent on their national and international federations, eligible to play the Davis Cup and forbidden to play pro events as an amateur, but authorized to take prize money in the open events contrary to an amateur (example : Okker)
- professionals under contract with NTL who had first to play NTL tournaments
- professionals under contract with WCT who had first to play WCT tournaments. At the beginning of the open era Dave Dixon, WCT boss, didn't allow his players to enter tournaments where NTL players were present: there was no WCT player at the two first open tournaments, Bournemouth and Roland Garros 1968, while all the NTL players were present. The first tournament where NTL and WCT players competed against each other, was the U.S. Pro, held at Longwood in June 1968
- freelance professionals (Hoad, Ayala, Owen Davidson, Mal Anderson, ...).
In 1968 there were a) an amateur circuit including the Davis Cup ("closed" to any "contract" professional until 1973) and the Australian Championships, b) two pro circuits: the "World Championship of Tennis (WCT)" circuit and the "National Tennis League (NTL)" circuit which met on 4 tournaments, and c) an open circuit (with a little more than 10 tournaments).
Many events were still reserved to the amateur players between 1968 and 1972.
Two tournaments were at the top in 1968: Wimbledon (a 128-man field) and the US Open (a 100-man field), played on grass, where all the best competed. The third position can be claimed by Roland Garros Open, being a Grand Slam tournament but with a less strong field missing several of the best claycourt players (Santana, Okker, Newcombe, Roche and the 6 other WCT players).
Next probably came the first Pacific Southwest Open in Los Angeles (64-man field, played on hardcourt) with all the best players present.
Other notable tournaments that year were the Queen's Club tournament (the Graebner-Okker final cancelled due to rain which also delayed the first matches in Wimbledon) and the greatest pro tournaments where all the NTL and WCT pros could compete (but without amateur or registered players) as the U.S. Pro (outside Boston, on grass), the French Pro (coming back to Roland Garros after the 5-edition interlude at Coubertin), the Jack Kramer Tournament of Champions at Wembley in November and perhaps the Madison Square Garden Pro in December with the four best pros of each organization.
In this context Rosewall played almost all NTL pro tournaments in 1968, the four "NTL-WCT" tournaments and some open tournaments. He entered his first "open" tournament at 33 years 5 months and 19 days at Bournemouth on clay ("open" because among the pros only the NTL players entered and the amateurs were mainly British) and successively defeated Gimeno and Laver. In the second open tournament, Roland Garros, the first Grand Slam tournament of the Open Era, Rosewall confirmed his status of probably the best claycourt player in the world (in fact since 1958 except in 1959 and 1966) by defeating Laver in the final 6-3, 6-3, 6-1. Bad defeats followed against some of the upcoming 1967 amateur players (Roche twice on grass at the US Pro and at Wimbledon Open, Newcombe on clay at the French Pro and Okker on grass at the U.S. Open) but his end of the year was better. He reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open, was finalist to Laver at the Pacific Southwest Open, defeating the new U.S. Open winner, Arthur Ashe, 6-3 6-2 and in November captured the Wembley pro tournament over WCT player, John Newcombe. At age 34 Rosewall was still ranked number three in the world behind Laver and Ashe according to Lance Tingay and Bud Collins.
The decline that began in 1967 continued throughout 1969. Rosewall won only two tournaments that year and was ranked number five by Collins and Tingay. He also lost his supremacy as the world's best clay-court player when Laver beat him in the finals of the French Open;
Aged 35 and having won almost all the great events except for Wimbledon, this tournament became Rosewall's priority in the seventies. The obvious reason it had eluded him was that he had been barred from entering for ten years (1957-1966) when he was at his best, and particularly from 1961 to 1965 (except 1964) when he was probably the best on grass. (In 1967, a Wimbledon pro tournament was held, Laver beating Rosewall in the final: if that were taken into account Laver and Rosewall would then be respectively five times Wimbledon winner and five times finalist.)
Knowing he could reach the last rounds of the French tournament and then be too tired to play well at Wimbledon (as had happened in 1968 and 1969, when he lost in the 4th and 3rd rounds respectively), Rosewall decided not to play Roland Garros any more in order to be in optimal condition for Wimbledon. But he lost anyway in the 3rd round of the 1969 Wimbledon in four sets to the young, unseeded American player Bob Lutz. Lutz went on to the quarterfinals, where he lost in four sets to Arthur Ashe.
Being a NTL player at the beginning of 1970 he didn't play the Australian Open held at the White City courts at Sydney in January (if the NTL players were absent, the WCT players were there) because NTL boss McCall and his players thought that prize money was very low for a Grand Slam tournament. But in March, a tournament, sponsored by Dunlop, was organized at the same site, with a much denser field because of better prize-money and a better date. The same class players as in the Grand Slam tournament were present and in addition not only the NTL pros came but even some independent pros who usually never made the trip Down Under such as Ilie Năstase. Many considered this tournament as the unofficial Australian Open with Laver dominating Rosewall in five sets. After a depleted Roland Garros without the WCT players, this organization having about 24 players under contract after absorbing the NTL, and without Rosewall all the best players met again at Wimbledon. This time a rested Rosewall reached the final and took the young Newcombe, his 9 and a half-year-old junior, to 5 sets but ultimately succumbed: 5-7, 6-3, 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Two months later at the U.S. Open, one of the two 1970 Grand Slams with all the best players, Rosewall took a sweet revenge in their semifinal clash in three straight sets before overcoming Tony Roche in the final: 2-6, 6-4, 7-6, 6-3.
To fight against the WCT and NTL promoters who controlled their own players and did not allowe them to compete where they wanted, Kramer invented, probably in December 1969, the Grand Prix circuit open to every player. The first Grand Prix circuit was held in 1970 and comprised 20 tournaments from Bournemouth in April to Stockholm in December. These tournaments gave points according to their categories and the players's performances with the top six players in ranking points invited to a 6-man tournament called the Masters (Tokyo) held for the first time. All the amateurs and independent pros fully invested themselves in this circuit while the contract pros firstly played their circuit and eventually played in some Grand Prix tournaments. For instance Roy Emerson ended third in the prize money rankings because he concentrated mainly on the NTL-WCT circuit whereas he ranked only 20th in the Grand Prix circuit. But Rosewall or Laver succeeded well in both circuits. The final Grand Prix ranking was 1) Cliff Richey (independent pro), 2) Arthur Ashe (independent pro), 3) Ken Rosewall (contract pro). Having qualified for the Masters Rosewall was again third behind winner Stan Smith (a U.S. Army employee who had to serve for his country just after the Masters in December 1970 until April 1971) and his 1970 nemesis Laver.
After his 1967-1969 steady decline, 1970 saw a rejuvenated Rosewall who was just one set short of winning the Wimbledon and U.S. Open double.
1970 was a year where no player dominated the circuit and different arguments were given to designate the World Champion. Some, among them Newcombe and the panel of journalists which made the 1971 WCT draw, considered Laver the best player because he won most tournaments (13), made most prize money and had a dominatingly positive head-to-head record against both Rosewall (5-0: Dunlop Open at Sydney, St. Louis WCT, New York Tennis Champions Classic, Louisville, Tokyo Masters) and Newcombe (3-0: Queen's Club, Louisville, Los Angeles). But Rocket failed miserably at Wimbledon and U.S Open, the two big tournaments, losing each time in the round of 16.
Other tennis witnesses, as Joe McCauley in World Tennis or Lance Tingay (journalist in The Daily Telegraph) in his annual rankings, ranked Newcombe first because he won the most prestigious tournament, Wimbledon with Rosewall second in both rankings, Laver respectively third and fourt and Roche respectively fourth and third.
But considering that Wimbledon and the U.S. Open were the two big events of 1970 Newcombe (Wimbledon winner) and Rosewall (Forest Hills winner) remain to chose the number one player in the world. If we except the fifth set lost by Rosewall against Newcombe at Wimbledon, many statistics favour Rosewall (see World of Tennis '71 edited by John Barrett)
- in their two Grand Slam tournaments clashes each one won one match but Newcombe won the greater title (advantage Newcombe) while Rosewall won more sets (5-3) (advantage Rosewall)
- Rosewall ended third in the Grand Prix circuit and Newcombe ended seventh and didn't even qualify for the Masters where only the first six were admitted. Rosewall finished third in the Masters (advantage Rosewall)
- In the other tournaments with the best fields (US Pro indoor at Philadelphia, US Pro outside Boston, Dunlop Open at Sydney, Pacific Southwest in Los Angeles and Wembley) both players were even: Rosewall was runner-up at Dunlop and semi-finalist at Wembley and Newcombe was runner-up at Los Angeles and semi-finalist at Philadelphia
- In the Pro circuit including the First Annual Tennis Champions Classic and the WCT circuit, Rosewall had a better record than Newcombe. In Tennis Champions Classic, a succession of challenge matches, Newcombe played and lost his two matches against the old Gonzales (6-4 6-4 6-2) and the old ... Rosewall (5-7 7-5 6-1 6-2) while Rosewall ended second, winning 4 matches and losing 2. In the WCT circuit Rosewall won 2 tournaments and Newcombe only one (advantage Rosewall)
- In all the circuits Rosewall won 6 tournaments out of 24 and Newcombe only 4 out of 24 (slight advantage to Rosewall).
- In head-to-head matches Rosewall beat Newcombe 5 times out of 6 (Rosewall's only defeat was at Wimbledon) (clear advantage to Rosewall).
- Finally Rosewall earned $140,455 while Newcombe made $78,251.
Judith Elian of the French sports paper L'Équipe, approved these statistics by ranking Rosewall as the number one player (ahead of Newcombe) and the panel of experts for the 'Martini and Rosso' Cup also had Rosewall first, narrowly over Laver.
Meanwhile in his book (see above) Robert Geist ranked the three Australians equal number ones.
After his finals at Sydney and Wimbledon and his victory at the U.S. Open in 1970 Rosewall continued his good performances in 1971 in the great grasscourt tournaments. One year after the first Dunlop Open held in Sydney, Rosewall was back in Sydney in March, this time for the Australian Open held on the White City Courts. For once this tournament deserved the 'Grand Slam tournament' label. Among the 14 first editions of the Open tournament (1969-1982) only the 1969 and the 1971 editions had a strong field with many, but not all, of the best players. Since it was sponsored by Dunlop in 1971 all the WCT players (including the ancient NTL players since spring 1970) entered (Newcombe, Rosewall, Laver, Roche, Okker, Ashe (a WCT player since the beginning of the year) and so on) and some independent pros also played. Nevertheless Smith (under Army's service), Richey, Graebner and the not yet good grasscourt players Năstase and Jan Kodeš were missing. Rosewall won the tournament, his second consecutive Grand Slam win, without losing a single set and defeated Roy Emerson and Tom Okker before beating Arthur Ashe in the final: 6-1 7-5 6-3.
Rosewall didn't play Roland Garros, being still intent on winning Wimbledon. In the quarterfinals Rosewall had to fight for about four hours against Richey, 6-8 5-7 6-4 9-7 7-5 whereas Newcombe had a very easy match against Dibley, 6-1 6-2 6-3. In the semis the old Rosewall was no match for the fitter Newcombe: 1-6, 1-6, 3-6. Rosewall, along with some other WCT players (Laver, Gimeno, Emerson, Drysdale, Stolle, Roche), was absent from Forest Hills due to the growing conflict between the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF) and the WCT organization but also because of his children's illnesses.
As a contract pro Rosewall couldn't play the Davis Cup and thus concentrated mainly on the WCT circuit organized similarly to the Grand Prix circuit which was the equivalent for the independent pros: 20 tournaments (including the Australian Open), each giving the same points amount. The top eight players in ranking WCT points were invited to the WCT Finals (the 21st), an 8-man tournament, equivalent of the Grand Prix Masters for the WCT players, played in November in Houston (quarters and semis) and Dallas (final), USA. When the WCT players were off they could play tournaments on the other pro circuit, managed by the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF) ("The officials"), the Grand Prix circuit (supposed to be the "Traditional circuit") rather reserved in 1971 to the "independent pros". Some tournaments such as Berkeley, which had a stronger field than the US Open, were held by both organizations. But the war between "The officials" and WCT climaxed in a ban by the ILTF beginning on January 1, 1972, of the WCT players from the Grand Prix circuit.
Rosewall ended third on the 1971 WCT circuit behind Laver and Okker and qualified for the WCT Finals. He won the title, taking his revenge over Newcombe, who had beaten Rosewall at Wimbledon, in the quarters, defeating Okker in the semis and beating Laver 6-4 1-6 7-6 7-6 in the final in what was considered at the time as the best match, with their 1970 Sydney final, between the two rivals since their 1968 Roland Garros final.
As a WCT player Rosewall played few Grand Prix tournaments but he had earned enough points to play the Grand Prix Masters held about ten days after his WCT Finals. He refused the invitation as he was very tired after such a long season and took his holidays at the end of the year. Newcombe was in an identical situation and acted the same and both players came back at the same tournament, the 1972 Australian Open.
In 1971 Rosewall won 8 tournaments and 78.4% of his matches (76 out of 97) and in direct confrontations trailed Newcombe 1-3, Laver 2-3 but dominated Smith 1-0. He did not play Kodeš that year.
Collins, Elian or Geist ranked Rosewall third after Newcombe and/or Smith. Tingay ranked Rosewall 4th, Rino Tommasi 1st, and the Martini-Rossi award was given jointly to Smith and Newcombe. That year, as in 1970, there was no clear undisputed number one.
1972 saw a true return to separate circuits because all traditional ILTF events held from January to July were out of bounds to the WCT players. This included the Davis Cup again, and also Roland Garros and Wimbledon. The 1972 Australian Open organizers tried a trick to get round the ILTF's ban on the WCT players. They held the tournament from December 26, 1971, six days before the ILTF's ban could be applied, to January 2, 1972. Thus all contract and, of course, independent pros could have played but few were interested because the tournament took place over Christmas and the New Year. In moving the dates from March to December/January they almost killed the tournament. A fragile agreement in the spring of 1972 let the WCT players come back to the traditional circuit in August (in Merion, WCT players Okker and Roger Taylor played, the latter defeating independent pros Connors and Malcolm Anderson in the final rounds). The U.S. Open, won by Ilie Năstase, was the greatest event of the year as only in this tournament were all the best players present (with the exception of Tony Roche who suffered from tennis elbow for most of the 1971-1973 period). Later that year two other tournaments had good fields with WCT and independent pros: the Pacific Southwest Open at Los Angeles and, to a lesser extent, Stockholm, both won by Stan Smith.
In many 1972 rankings there were 6 or 7 WCT players in the world top 10 (the 3 or 4 independent pros were Smith, Năstase, Orantes and sometimes Gimeno (an ancient NTL then WCT player)) so the WCT Finals held in May at Dallas were considered as one of (if not the first) the greatest events after the U.S. Open. In what is considered one of the two best matches played in 1972, the other being the Wimbledon final, and the best Rosewall-Laver match of the open era Rosewall won his last major title of his long career: 4-6 6-0 6-3 6-7 7-6. (Laver wrote that the two Australians had played better matches between them in the pre-open days, citing their 1963 French Pro final as the pinnacle; McCauley considered their 1964 Wembley final).
The ILTF ban once again prevented Rosewall from playing at Wimbledon.
True Open career: August 1972 to 1980
Beginning in August, 1972, players could enter almost any tournament they wanted to, and the true Open era began. That same year saw the formation of the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) at Forest Hills.
Rosewall won seven tournaments, including the Australian Open, which had a very depleted field, and was ranked, by Judith Elian, Tingay, or McCauley, number 3 behind Smith and Ilie Năstase; Bud Collins ranked Rosewall 2nd and Năstase 3rd. He did not compete at either Roland Garros or Wimbledon and lost to Mark Cox in the third round of the 1972 U.S. Open. If 1967 has been the first year of a relative decline, still with many highlights, it began to accelerate after Dallas in 1972: he was still one of the better players, but no longer fighting for the top spot.
1973 began as badly as 1972 had ended, with possibly the worst defeat of his career at the 1973 Australian Open. Again, as in 1972, there was a very weak field, with only Rosewall and Newcombe from the top 20. The number one seed, he was defeated by German Karl Meiler in his first match (second round) 2-6, 3-6, 2-6. Between May 1972, with victory at Dallas, and April 1973, victory at Houston, River Oaks, Rosewall captured only two minor titles, the Tokyo WCT (which did not award points for the WCT Finals) and Brisbane in December 1972, where the only top 20 player was himself. He did not play Wimbledon that year as it was boycotted by the ATP players.
His best performances in 1973 were his semifinal place at the U.S. Open (as in 1972 his best event of the year) and his third place at the WCT Finals, where he was beaten by Ashe in the semis and defeated Laver for 3rd place. He also won at Houston WCT, Cleveland WCT, Charlotte WCT, Osaka and Tokyo.
1974 was the first year since 1952 that Rosewall did not win a single tournament. He entered eight (Hong-Kong was left unfinished because of rain) and reached three finals including Wimbledon and Forest Hills. Due to strong performances in the two last he was ranked between second (Tingay) and the seventh place (Collins) by many tennis journalists. He was only 8th in the ATP rankings because he played too few tournaments knowing that he succumbed to the charms of the World Team Tennis "organization". That year, he also coached the Pittsburgh Triangles team.
Still in the top 10 accoding to the ATP, Collins, and Tommasi, he won 5 tournaments (Jackson, Houston-River Oaks, Louisville, Gstaad, Tokyo Gunze Open) along with his two singles in the Davis Cup tie against New-Zealand. This event was now finally open to contract pros, and Rosewall was selected by Neale Fraser for the doubles semifinals. Now over 40, he made his last attempt at Wimbledon, losing, just as he did in the first Open Wimbledon in 1968, to Tony Roche in the 4th round.
In 1976 Rosewall fell out of the top 10 but stayed in the top 20, winning Brisbane, the Jackson WCT and Hong-Kong, where he beat Năstase, then the world number three.
1977 was Rosewall's last year in the top 20. He had been one of the top players for 26 years, and in the top 20 from 1952 to 1977. He won his last tournaments at Hong Kong and Tokyo (the Gunze Open) at the age of 43.
His gradual retirement ended in October 1980 when, at nearly 46, he played at the Melbourne Indoor Tournament, defeating Butch Walts, the American ranked 49, in the first round, before Paul McNamee ended his career in the second.
Singles titles 1951-1977
- Michel Sutter, Vainqueurs Winners 1946-2003, Paris 2003
- Joe McCauley, The History of Professional Tennis, London 2001
- Robert Geist, Der Grösste Meister Die denkwürdige Karriere des australischen Tennisspielers Kenneth Robert Rosewall, Vienna 1999
- Tony Trabert in Tennis de France
Before 1972, tennis results weren't as thoroughly recorded and archived as they are today by both the ITF and ATP; many of the older results are therefore missing. Nevertheless, the most important ones have been preserved, and it can be established that Rosewall, beginning in 1951, won, at the very least, 121 men's tournaments in the course of his long career.
|1953||3||Australian Amateur Championships (Melbourne)||17 January|
|Roland Garros (Paris)||31 May|
|Pacific Southwest (Los Angeles)||20 September|
|1955||3||Australian Amateur Championships (Adelaide)||31 January|
|US Championships (Forest Hills)||6 September|
|New South Wales-Sydney||17 November|
|South Australia-Adelaide||22 November|
|1957||1||London Indoor Pro Championships-Wembley||28 September|
|1958||2||Eastbourne Pro||16 August|
|French Pro-Roland Garros||20 September|
|1959||3||Queensland Pro-Brisbane||24 January|
|Palermo Pro (4-man tournament)||25 August|
|Queensland Pro-Brisbane||19 December|
|1960||6||Australian Pro Indoor-Melbourne||10 May|
|San Francisco Pro||18 June|
|Los Angeles Pro||26 June|
|French Pro-Roland Garros||18 September|
|London Indoor Pro Championships-Wembley||24 September|
|Manila Pro||28 November|
|1961||3||French Pro-Roland Garros||17 September|
|London Indoor Pro Championships-Wembley||23 September|
|New South Wales Pro-Sydney||3 December|
|1962||10||South Australian Pro-Adelaide||13 January|
|Victorian Pro-Melbourne||20 January|
|The Australian TV Series||February|
|Wellington (4-man tournament)||March (?)|
|Auckland (4-man tournament)||March (?)|
|Geneva Pro||2 September|
|French Pro-Roland Garros||16 September|
|London Indoor Pro Championships-Wembley||22 September|
|Milano Pro||29 September|
|Stockholm Pro||12 October|
|1963||5||Los Angeles Pro||16 June|
|US Pro-Forest Hills||29 June|
|French Pro-Coubertin||15 September|
|London Indoor Pro Championships-Wembley||21 September|
|Italian Pro-Roma||3 September|
|1964||10||Melbourne Pro (4-man tournament)||11 January|
|Masters Round Robin Pro-Los Angeles||8 June|
|St Louis Pro||14 June|
|Milwaukee Pro||28 June|
|San Remo Pro (4-man tournament)||6 August|
|Venice Pro (4-man tournament)||11 August|
|Cannes Pro||16 August|
|French Pro-Coubertin||13 September|
|Hannover Pro||28 September|
|Western Province Pro-Cape Town||October|
|1965||6||Queensland Pro-Brisbane||16 January|
|Greater Washington Pro-Reston||27 June|
|St Louis Pro||4 July|
|US Pro-Longwood||19 July|
|French Pro-Coubertin||13 September|
|Scandinavian Pro-Helsinki||27 September|
|1966||9||South Australian Pro-Adelaide||15 January|
|New South Wales Pro-Sydney||26 January|
|Madison Square Garden Pro-New York||26 March|
|Casablanca Pro||23 May|
|San Rafael Pro||27 June|
|Newport Pro||10 July|
|French Pro-Coubertin||2 October|
|Benoni Pro||12 October|
|Johannesburg Round Robin Pro||20 October|
|1967||7||BBC2 Pro-Wembley (4-man tournament)||5 April|
|Los Angeles Pro||28 May|
|Pacific Coast Pro-Berkeley||4 June|
|US Pro Hardcourt-St Louis||18 June|
|Newport Beach Pro||25 June|
|Natal Pro-Durban||10 September|
|Western Province Pro-Cape Town||16 September|
|Pro and Open career|
|1968||5||NTL Paris Pro-Coubertin (6-man tournament)||19 April|
|Roland Garros||9 June|
|Fort Worth Pro NTL||18 August|
|Jack Kramer Tournament of Champions-Wembley Pro||21 November|
|1970||6||Hollywood Pro||14 February|
|Corpus Christi WCT||22 February|
|US Open-Forest Hills||13 September|
|1971||8||Australian Open-Sydney||14 March|
|Washington WCT||18 July|
|US Pro-Longwood WCT||8 August|
|Vancouver WCT||10 October|
|WCT Finals-Houston & Dallas||17 November|
|1972||7||Australian Open-Sydney||2 January|
|Hollywood (FL) WCT||5 March|
|Hilton Head WCT||25 March|
|Charlotte WCT||23 April|
|WCT Finals-Dallas||14 May|
|Tokyo WCT||7 October|
|1973||5||Houston-River Oaks WCT||8 April|
|Cleveland WCT||15 April|
|Charlotte WCT||22 April|
|Houston-River Oaks||27 April|
|Tokyo Gunze Open||30 November|
|Jackson WCT||21 March|
|Tokyo Gunze Open||(28) November|
The ATP recorded tournaments from 1968 onwards and even then some are missing, for example the Dunlop Sydney Open in March 1970 or the 1973-1974 New South Wales Championships.
The dates are of the final day. Sometimes the records show slight differences of a few days (for instance McCauley mentions September 20, 1958 for the French Pro whereas Michel Sutter indicates September 22) and in other occasions only the month is known.
This list includes four-man tournaments.
Pro tours won, 1957 to 1967
(at least 7)
In the pre-open years the professionals played sometimes more often in tours than in tournaments: in 1937 Henry Ellsworth Vines, Jr. played 70 matches in two tours and 0 match in tournament. In his first five months in the pro ranks (from January to May 1957) Rosewall played 76 matches in tour against Gonzales and only 9 matches in tournaments. In the sixties the trend was reversed. All that to say that if these players had had the opportunity to play as many tournaments as the 21st century players, they would have had even more singles titles.
Several tours results in tennis history are completely unknown.
Below the dates are somewhat unprecise and sometimes the detailed results are unknown but the winner is certain.
1957: Australian pro tour with Rosewall winner (detailed results unknown) over Hoad, Sedgman, and Segura, each man playing 20 matches, November-December
1958: Perrier Trophy pro tour with Rosewall winner (detailed results unknown) over Segura, Trabert and Hoad, August 2 - October 25
1959: South African pro tour final standings : 1) Rosewall 12 matches won - 2 lost, 2) Segura 9-5, 3) Ashley Cooper 7-7, 4) Malcolm Anderson 4-10, 5) Mervyn Rose 3-11, November
1962: New Zealand pro tour 1) Rosewall 4-1, 2) Gimeno 3-2, 3) Sedgman 2-3, 4) Ayala 1-4 probably March
1963: Australasian (Australian+NewZealander) pro tour Rosewall defeated Laver 11-2 (12 out of 13 scores are perfectly known) January (begun on 6); U.S. pro tour with Rosewall winner over Laver, Gimeno, Buchholz, MacKay and Ayala : in the first phase 1) Rosewall 31-10, 2) Laver 26-16, 3) Buchholz 23-18, 4) Gimeno 21-20, 5) MacKay 12-29, 6) Ayala 11-30 then a second phase opposing a) the top2 to determine the final winner and b) places 3 and 4 to determine the final 3rd player, final standings : 1) Rosewall (defeated Laver 14-4 in the second phase), 2) Laver, 3) Gimeno (defeated Buchholz in the second phase 11-7), 4) Buchholz, 5) MacKay 12-29, 6) Ayala 11-30, February 8 to end of May
1964: Facis Trophy (Trofeo Facis) pro tour Rosewall winner over Gimeno, Gonzales and Buchholz, July 28 to August 11; September 29 to October 8
Davis Cup: Rosewall won 17 out of 19 Davis Cup singles matches and 2 out of 3 doubles. Rosewall was a member of the victorious Australian Davis Cup teams in 1953, 1955, 1956 and 1973, in all cases defeating USA in the final. He did not personally participate in the 1973 final.
Kramer Cup: in this pro "Davis Cup-format" team event, held just 3 years (1961-1963) and opposing the subcontinents Australia, Europe, North America and South America, Rosewall won 9 out of 10 singles matches and 4 out of 5 doubles. Australia won all three editions.
Rosewall–Laver head-to-head matches
- The History of Professional Tennis, by Joe McCauley
- World Tennis — the American magazine
- World of Tennis — annuals edited by John Barrett
- Association of Tennis Professionals
The documentation for pre-Open tours, tournaments, and individual match results is often poor or non-existent. Gonzales and Laver, however, were the two players that Rosewall met most often in the course of his career. His matches against Laver are documented in greater detail than those with Gonzales, so below are the main results of the matches between the two Australians.
Robert Geist's latest estimation of the Rosewall-Laver meetings is 66 wins for Rosewall and 75 wins for Laver. . Because Rosewall turned pro in 1957 and Laver in 1963, there was a six-year period during which the two players could not play each other. In 1956 both players were on the amateur circuit but Laver, who was only 17 at the start of the year, apparently never encountered Rosewall.
The records of their meetings show that Laver dominated strongly from 1964 to 1970, or even to 1972, but that Rosewall was clearly the better player in 1963. In that year, when they were the main attraction of the pro tour, they met about 46 times; some of the results are still unknown. That one year accounts for about one-third of their total matches.
No results are known for the Rosewall-Laver meetings in the following:
- New Zealand tour with Rosewall, Laver, Hoad and Sedgman, February 1964
- Manila Pro, September 28-29, 1965
- Tour in Nairobi, Entebbe, Accra and Lagos in October-November 1966
- Italian tour (4 cities) with the pro troupe, August 1967
- Spain tour with Laver, Rosewall, Gimeno and Stolle, October 1967
Match stopped :
- Manly, Tour match, January 24, 1965, Rosewall-Laver 6-2 3-2, rain stopped play
|Events||Rosewall’s wins||Laver’s wins|
|* Sydney White City, Grass, January 6||6-3 6-3 6-4 (or 6-3 6-3 6-3)|
|* Brisbane Milton, Grass, January||3-6 10-8 6-2 6-3|
|* Melbourne Grass January 19||6-3 3-6 7-5 6-2|
|* Canberra, Grass, January||10-8 6-3|
|* Adelaide, Grass January||6-1 6-2 6-2|
|* Auckland, Grass, January||6-4 6-4|
|* Dunedin, Grass, January||10-8 6-4|
|* Napier, Grass, January||6-1 6-3|
|* Palmerston North, Grass, January||7-9 6-3 6-4|
|* Masterton, Grass, January||6-2 6-3|
|* Wellington, Grass, January||6-3 6-3|
|* Hamilton, Grass, January||6-3 7-5|
|One Rosewall's win not informed|
|U.S. tour first phase (no complete results available)|
|* New York Madison Square Garden, Indoor, February 10||12-10|
|* College Park (Md), Indoor, February 14||8-5|
|* Baltimore (Md), Indoor, February 17||8-4|
|* Montréal Canada, Indoor, February 22||8-6|
|* Probably 4 or 5 other matches xxx||xxx|
|U.S. tour second and final phase (many detailed results missing)||14||4|
|* New York Madison Square Garden (match 1), Indoor, April 24||6-0 6-3|
|* Medford (Oregon), Indoor, May 21||6-1 6-3|
|* ? , Indoor, May 22||6-2 6-2|
|Cleveland tournament, 3rd place, Indoor, April 1||9-7|
|Los Angeles Pro, Final, , June 16||14-12 6-4 6-3|
|U.S. Pro-Forest Hills, Final, Grass, June 29||6-4 6-2 6-2|
|Kitzbühel Pro, Final, , August 12||6-3 6-4 6-4|
|Cannes Pro, Final, , August 18 or 19||6-2 6-3 6-4|
|French Pro-Paris Stade Coubertin, Final, Indoor Wood, September 15||6-8 6-4 5-7 6-3 6-4|
|Italian Pro-Rome, Final, , September 30||6-4 6-3|
|Western Australian Pro-Perth, Round-robin match, Grass, January (3 ?)||6-2 6-1|
|Melbourne Pro, Final, Grass, January 11||6-4 6-4|
|Monterey (Calif.) Pro, Semifinal, , June 20||11-9 6-3|
|U.S. Pro-Longwood outside Boston, Semifinal, Grass, July 11||6-3 6-3 7-9 6-2|
|Nottingham (UK), Tour match, , July||6-2 6-3|
|Knokke-le-Zoute Pro, Round of 4 (of a 4-man tournament), , July 22||6-1 6-1|
|Montreux, Tour match, , September 1||6-1 6-3|
|French Pro-Paris Stade Coubertin, Final, Indoor Wood, September 13||6-3 7-5 3-6 6-3|
|Wembley Pro, Final, Indoor Wood, September 19||7-5 5-7 4-6 8-6 8-6 or 7-5 4-6 5-7 8-6 8-6|
|Faenza, Tour match, , October 6||7-5 6-4|
|Torino, Tour match, , October 8||8-6 6-2|
|Bloemfontein, Tour match, , October||8-6 6-4|
|East London, Tour match, , October||6-4 3-6 6-4|
|Durban, Tour match, , October||6-4 9-7|
|Johannesburg-Ellis Park, challenge match, , October||6-4 6-1 6-4|
|Queensland Pro-Brisbane, Final, Grass, January 16||6-8 6-2 6-4|
|South Australian Pro-Adelaide, Final, Grass, January 31||6-3 6-4|
|Victorian Pro-Melbourne, Final, Grass, February 13||2-6 6-1 6-4|
|Greater Seattle Pro, Semifinal, , June 5||6-8 15-13 6-4|
|Lake Tahoe Pro, Semifinal, , June 19||6-3 3-6 6-1|
|Reston Pro, Final, , June 27||8-6 6-1|
|St Louis Pro, Semifinal, , July 3||6-1 6-4|
|Newport Pro, Round-robin match, , between July 6 & 12||31-21|
|Newport Pro, One of the final play-off matches, , between July 6 & 12||31-28|
|U.S. Pro-Longwood outside Boston, Final, Grass, July 19||6-4 6-3 6-3|
|French Pro-Paris Stade Coubertin, Final, Indoor Wood, September 13||6-3 6-2 6-4|
|Brighton (UK), Tour match, , September 19||1-6 6-2 6-4|
|Nairobi Pro, Final, , October||6-1 4-6 6-2|
|Rhodesian Pro-Bulawayo & Salisbury, Final, , October||3-6 6-4 6-1|
|Natal Pro-Durban, Final, , October||6-2 8-6|
|East London, Tour match, , October||Laver's win, score unknown|
|Johannesburg-Ellis Park, Tour match, , October||5-7 6-4 6-2 6-4|
|Western Province Pro-Cape Town, Final, , November 4||4-6 6-3 6-3|
|Victorian Pro-Melbourne, Final, Grass, January 22||6-3 6-0|
|Shepparton, Tour match, Grass, January 23||7-5 9-7|
|Western Australian Pro-Perth, Final, Grass, January 29||6-2 10-8|
|Madison Square Garden Pro-New York City, Final, , March 26||6-3 6-3|
|Forest Hills Pro, Round-robin match, Grass, between June 8&12||31-20|
|Forest Hills Pro, Final, Grass, June 12||31-29|
|San Rafael Pro, Round-robin match, , June 27||31-29|
|Newport Pro, Round-robin match, , July 9 or 10||31-23|
|U.S. Pro-Longwood outside Boston, Final, Grass, July 16||6-4 4-6 6-2 8-10 6-3|
|Wembley Pro, Final, Indoor Wood, September 17||6-2 6-2 6-3|
|French Pro-Paris Stade Coubertin, Final, Indoor Wood, October 2||6-3 6-2 14-12|
|Johannesburg Round Robin Pro (not to confuse with South African Pro-Johannesburg), Final, , October 20||31-26|
|Western Province Pro-Cape Town, Final, , October 23||5-7 6-4 7-5|
|Boston Pro (not the U.S. Pro), Final, , April 2||6-4 6-0|
|Paris Pro-Stade Coubertin (not the French Pro), Final, , April 9||6-0 10-8 10-8|
|Los Angeles Pro, Final, , May 28||6-2 2-6 7-5|
|Pacific Coast Pro-Berkeley, Final, , June 4||4-6 6-3 8-6|
|Madison Square Garden Pro-New York City, Final, , June 9||6-4 6-4|
|Newport Beach Pro, Final, , June 25||6-3 6-3|
|World Pro-Oklahoma City, Final, , July 4||6-2 3-6 6-4|
|Newport Pro, Round-robin match, , between July 18&23||31-20|
|Wimbledon World Pro, Final, , August 28||6-2 6-2 12-10|
|Transvaal Pro-Pretoria, Benoni&Klerksdorp (Pretoria), Hard, September 6||6-3 6-2|
|East London Pro, 3rd place, , September 11||8-5|
|Mbabane, Tour match, , September 24||6-2 8-6|
|Wembley Pro, Final, Indoor Wood, October 28||2-6 6-1 1-6 8-6 6-2|
|BBC2 World Invitation Champs Pro-Wembley, Final, , April 18||6-3 10-8|
|Bournemouth Open, Final, Clay, April 27||3-6 6-2 6-0 6-3|
|NTL Wembley Invitation Pro, Final, , May 6||6-0 6-1 6-0|
|NTL Madison Square Garden Pro-New York City, Final, , May 18||4-6 6-3 9-7 6-4|
|Roland Garros Open, Final, Clay, June 9||6-3 6-1 2-6 6-2|
|Pacific Southwest Open-Los Angeles, Final, Hard, September 23||4-6 6-0 6-0|
|Philadelphia Open, Semifinal, , February 8||6-4 6-2|
|Orlando Pro, Final, , between February 10&15||6-3 6-2|
|Oakland Pro, Semifinal, , February 25||6-3 6-3|
|BBC2 World Pro-Wembley, Final, , May 24||8-6 6-0|
|Roland Garros Open, Final, Clay, June 8||6-4 6-3 6-4|
|U.S. Pro-Longwood outside Boston, Semifinal, , July 14||6-3 5-7 6-2 6-3|
|Fort Worth Pro, Final, , August 17||6-3 6-2|
|Hamburg, One-night stand, , October||2-6 7-5 8-6|
|Dunlop Sydney Open-White City, Final, Grass, March 22||3-6 6-2 3-6 6-2 6-3|
|St Louis WCT, Final, , June 1||6-1 6-4|
|Tennis Champions Classic Pro-New York City, Final, , July 16||6-4 6-3 6-3|
|Louisville WCT, Semifinal, , August 1||6-4 1-6 6-1|
|Masters-Tokyo, Round-robin match, fast Indoor Carpet, December 15||5-6 6-3 6-5|
|Tennis Champions Classic Pro-Madison Square Garden New York City, , January 2||6-3 6-2 7-5|
|Washington WCT, Round of 16, Clay, August (15 ?)||5-7 6-3 6-1|
|Fort Worth WCT, Quarterfinal, Hard, August 1||7-5 5-7 6-2|
|Berkeley WCT, Final, Hard, October3||6-4 6-4 7-6|
|WCT Finals-Houston&Dallas (Dallas), Indoor Carpet, November 18||6-4 1-6 7-6 7-6|
|U.S. Pro Indoor-Philadelphia WCT, Final, Indoor Carpet, February 13||4-6 6-2 6-2 6-2|
|Toronto WCT, Final, Indoor Carpet, February 20||6-1 6-4|
|Houston River Oaks WCT, Final, Clay, April 9||6-2 6-4|
|WCT Finals-Dallas, Final, Indoor Carpet, May 14||4-6 6-0 6-3 6-7 7-6|
|WCT Finals-Dallas, 3rd place, Indoor Carpet, between May 9&13||6-3 6-2|
|Sydney Indoor, Semifinal, , November 10||6-4 3-6 8-6|
|WCT Avis Challenge Cup, Round-Robin match, Hard, February 15||6-4 6-1 6-3|
|Houston River Oaks WCT, Round of 16 (first tour), Clay, between April 5&10||3-6 6-4 6-3|
Note: Sometimes chronology is not fully respected in order not to mix tour results with tournament matches: for example the two met on April 1, 1963 in the Cleveland tournament between two parts of their US tour (from February 8 to the end of May). Their Cleveland result is listed after their tours results (thus after May's results) although the tournament took place from March 30 to April 2.
Grand Slam Tournament wins
- Australian Championships:
- singles champion - 1953, 1955, 1971, 1972
- doubles champion - 1953, 1956, 1972
- French Championships:
- singles champion - 1953, 1968
- doubles champion - 1953, 1968
- Wimbledon Championships:
- doubles champion - 1953, 1956
- singles finalist - 1954, 1956, 1970, 1974
- US Championships
- singles champion - 1956, 1970
- doubles champion - 1956, 1969
In his 1979 autobiography, Kramer writes that "Rosewall was a backcourt player when he came into the pros, but he learned very quickly how to play the net. Eventually, for that matter, he became a master of it, as much out of physical preservation as for any other reason. I guarantee you that Kenny wouldn't have lasted into his forties as a world-class player if he hadn't learned to serve and volley."
Kramer includes the Australian in his list of the 21 greatest players of all time.
During his long playing career he remained virtually injury-free, something that helped him to still win tournaments at the age of 43 and remain ranked in the top 15 in the world. Although he was a finalist 4 times at Wimbledon, it was the one major tournament that eluded him.
Rosewall was a finalist at the 1974 U.S. Open at 39 years 310 days old, making him the oldest player to participate in two Grand Slam finals in the same year.
In 1995 Gonzales said of him: "He became better as he got older, more of a complete player. With the exception of me and Frank Sedgman, he could handle everybody else. Just the way he played, he got under Hoad's skin, but he had a forehand weakness and a serve weakness." In 160 matches against Pancho Gonzales he won probably 59 and lost 101. In about 70 matches against Lew Hoad he won about 45 and lost 25.
Rosewall was also known as being extremely careful about his spending, like a number of other Australian players of the time. The Australians themselves characterized this as having "short arms and deep pockets." Kramer writes that an Australian radio reporter once asked Pancho Segura what his single biggest thrill in tennis had been. "'The night Frank Sedgman bought dinner,' Segoo replied."
In the Queen's Birthday Honours of 1971, he was appointed a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE). In the Australia Day Honours of 1979, he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM).
Rosewall was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island, in 1980.
He has also been designated an Australian Living Treasure.
- The Greatest Tennis Player of All Time by Raymond Lee, in Tennis Week, September 14, 2007; the entire article can be seen at []
- Ray Bowers on Tennis Server (2000) at []
- Time magazine, September 15, 1952, at []
- DER GRÖSSTE MEISTER: Die denkwürdige Karriere des australischen Tennisspielers Kenneth Robert Rosewall (THE GREATEST MASTER: The Memorable Career of Australian Tennis Player...)
- The Education of a Tennis Player, by Rod Laver, page 151
- The History of Professional Tennis, by Joe McCauley, page 128
- Writing in 1979, Kramer considered the best ever to have been either Don Budge (for consistent play) or Ellsworth Vines (at the height of his game). The next four best were, chronologically, Bill Tilden, Fred Perry, Bobby Riggs, and Pancho Gonzales. After these six came the "second echelon" of Rod Laver, Lew Hoad, Ken Rosewall, Gottfried von Cramm, Ted Schroeder, Jack Crawford, Pancho Segura, Frank Sedgman, Tony Trabert, John Newcombe, Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, Björn Borg, and Jimmy Connors. He felt unable to rank Henri Cochet and René Lacoste accurately but felt they were among the very best.