1960 Australian Open: a costly volley

Sometimes in life opportunity knocks but once. This was so for Neale Fraser in his quest for the Australian singles championship. By 1960 he was the world’s number one player. Rod Laver and Roy Emerson were fine players too, though not quite of Fraser’s standing.

The 1960 Australian final between Fraser and Laver was played at Brisbane in stifling heat. Fraser’s boyhood dream of winning his national title seemed likely to be fulfilled when he took the first two sets. The heat affected him more than Laver, however, and he yielded the third set in a lather of sweat.

Fraser’s big chance came in the fourth, when he held a match point. He was at net, seemingly in control of the point, when The Rocket unexpectedly whipped a shot at him head-high.
Fraser, in two minds, mistimed his volley. He continued to wilt for another two hours until Laver converted his seventh match point for a draining 5-7 3-6 6-3 8-6 8-6 victory.
That year, Fraser won both Wimbledon and US championships. Never again, though, did he have a shot at the national title he desired so much.

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