Laver: Federer as good as ever

Australian tennis legend Rod Laver has said Roger Federer is playing as well as he ever has.

The Swiss master and defending champion at Melbourne will vie for his 20th major title at the Australian Open on Sunday.

The 36-year old Federer has yet to drop a set on his way to the final, where he will face Marin Cilic in a repeat of last year’s Wimbledon showdown – which Federer won in straight sets.

Laver, who has watched Federer closely at Melbourne Park this year, said he has not seen him play better tennis.

“He’s certainly playing as well as he did eight or 10 years ago,” Laver said.

“I wouldn’t say he’s better but Roger is playing some of his best tennis.

“Not all the time maybe. But pretty close to all the time.”

“He’s playing smarter,” Laver added.

“You learn when you’re playing an opponent or you see him a lot, he sees weaknesses that other people don’t see.

“That’s the difference between Roger and the field.

“The rest plays their game. That’s a big advantage.”

A win for Federer in his 30th grand slam title would help him stretch his lead over Rafael Nadal to four, with the Spaniard on 16 major titles.

It would also see the Swiss equal Novak Djokovic’s record of six wins at the Australian Open.

One record that Federer still does not hold though, is the oldest ever grand slam winner.

That record remains with Ken Rosewall, who won the 1972 Australian Open at the age of 37 years and 63 days.

At 36 years and 173 days, Federer would need to return next year and win to take that record.