Laver: When it comes to GOAT, Djokovic is Federer's equal

Novak Djokovic should be considered along with Roger Federer as the greatest of all time, according to Rod Laver. Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

For more than a half-decade, Rod Laver has said without hesitation that Roger Federer is the greatest player in tennis history.

Until now.

Laver, a two-time season Slam winner, now considers Novak Djokovic and Federer equals when it comes to greatest-of-all-time deliberations.

"I don't think you put one of those two above the other when you look at their performances," Laver said to ESPN.com via phone. "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?'"

Should Djokovic capture this year's French Open title, he would become the first man since Laver in 1969 to simultaneously hold all four majors. A first triumph for Djokovic in Paris would give him a full set of Slams, as well as setting up the possibility of emulating Laver by accomplishing the calendar-year Grand Slam -- a feat Federer, 34, failed to accomplish during his prime years.

Laver noted how good Djokovic, 28, has become at playing under pressure, whether at a high-profile event or if he's not playing his best tennis. Look no further than the Australian Open, where Djokovic committed 100 unforced errors against Gilles Simon in the fourth round and still won the match.

The top-ranked Serb cleaned up his game dramatically thereafter, especially in a semifinal rout of Federer.

"Everything was just clinical," Laver said. "It was just amazing. I'm sure that when Roger came off court, he asked himself, 'What do I have to do to beat this guy?' Djokovic probably didn't miss more than half a dozen shots in the whole match. It's amazing to think that Djokovic can play at that high level for so long."

But that doesn't mean Federer, who just pulled out of Madrid with a back injury, is finished winning.

"Wimbledon inspires Roger," Laver said. "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 US Open. It's definitely possible he can win another one."

Still, as it stands, at least one luminary who knows a thing or two about winning believes that no matter what Djokovic accomplishes from here on, he's already one of the two top competitors who has ever played the game.