Rod Laver admitted Sunday he was saddened by Novak Djokovic’s failure to break his 47-year long Grand Slam record.
World number one Djokovic suffered a shock defeat to unheralded Sam Querrey of the United States in the Wimbledon third round on Saturday in what was his earliest exit at a major in seven years.
The loss also meant that Laver remains the last man to sweep the calendar Grand Slam in 1969.
“I’m still happy to have the title, but I don’t own it,” Australian legend Laver told ESPN.
“I would have liked to have been at the US Open and be the first to shake Djokovic’s hand if he did it. Don Budge did that for me in 1962 at Forest Hills.”
Budge’s message to Laver was: “Welcome to an exclusive club.”
American player Budge won the first calendar Grand Slam in 1938 before Laver achieved the feat twice, in 1962 and 1969.
Djokovic had already captured the Australian and French Open titles in 2016 and was heavily favoured to defend his Wimbledon crown.
That would have left just the defence of his US Open trophy standing in the way of him and a place in the record books.
Laver, 77, believes Djokovic may have been lacking motivation after finally winning a first French Open last month which gave him ownership of all four Slams at the same time.
“He just wasn’t himself, something was off,” said Laver.
“I think maybe he felt winning all four titles and being the defending champion of all four was a Grand Slam in his mind.
“And so even if it wasn’t in the calendar year, it didn’t matter. Way back in there somewhere you are thinking one thing, that it doesn’t matter, but you are thinking it does matter.
“Those are two different thoughts to have when you are playing.”
Djokovic had admitted that he hadn’t been “100 percent healthy” in the match with Querrey and was spotted rubbing his left shoulder as the tie slipped away.
But the 29-year-old refused to dwell on failing to grab Laver’s record.
“I managed to win four Grand Slams in a row. I want to try to focus on that rather than on failure,” Djokovic said.
“Coming into Wimbledon, I knew that mentally it’s not going to be easy to kind of remotivate myself.”
World number two Andy Murray, the 2013 champion, said Sunday that Djokovic’s defeat would have little bearing on his preparations.
As the top two seeds, they were scheduled to meet in the final and not before.
“The players left in my section of the draw are still formidable,” Murray told the BBC.
“You’ve got Nick Kyrgios (who he plays in the last 16), who’s beaten Rafa on Centre Court; Tsonga is one of the best grass-court players in the world; Richard Gasquet’s still in there and he made the semis last year.”
“There are some pretty decent players left in my way, so I’m not getting carried away.”