Melbourne, 19 May 2012 |

As we count down to French Open 2012, will feature some of the best Australian achievements at Roland Garros. The highlights will be revealed in chronological order and when all 20 have been named, you get the chance to vote for your No.1 achievement.

1968 Ken Rosewall wins singles and doubles at the age of 33

The French Championships became the French Open as the wall dividing amateurs and professionals came crashing down in 1968.

With professionals now eligible to enter the Grand Slams alongside the amateurs, a strong field contested the French Open. Headed by Australians Rod ‘Rocket’ Laver and Ken ‘Muscles’ Rosewall, Andres Gimeno, Roy Emerson and Pancho Gonzales rounded out the top five.

Both players relished the opportunity to compete for one of the truly big tournaments, but to make it to the final they had some significant hurdles to overcome.

Rosewall, one of the oldest players in the draw at 33, played as if he was in his prime and made it to the quarterfinals without dropping a set. Thomaz Koch proved a little more difficult, but Muscles triumphed in four sets to move through to the semifinals and a meeting with third seed Andres Gimeno who he defeated in a taxing five-set match.

Laver, meanwhile, had endured a tougher time making it to the final rounds, then had his hands full with ninth seed Ion Tiriac who won the opening two sets of their quarterfinal before Rocket struck back. Laver swept fifth seed Gonzales aside in straight sets in the semis to make it to the final against friend and rival Rosewall.

They’d played each other dozens of times on the professional circuit, but this was their first meeting in a Grand Slam final. Going into the final, Laver narrowly led their head-to-head battle 58-55, but it would be Rosewall who would triumph in four sets, 6-3 6-1 2-6 6-2. Rosewall also won the doubles with fellow Aussie Fred Stolle.

At the time Rosewall was the oldest winner of the men’s singles title at 33 years and seven months, a record he passed on to Andres Gimeno (34 years, 10 months) in 1972.

“Ken [Rosewall] pushed me around for about 20 years,” laughed Laver when asked about his rivalry with Rosewall in 2012.

In total, the pair met on court 143 times, with Laver winning on 80 occasions to Rosewall’s 63, with most of their meetings played out on the professional circuit. Rosewall turned pro in 1957, while Laver, four years Rosewall’s junior, entered the pro league in 1963.

In total, Rosewall missed 46 Grand Slams thanks to the amateur-professional divide but, despite this, he still amassed 18 majors (eight singles, nine doubles and one mixed). Had the majors been open to all players who knows how many titles Muscles would have won.

On his return to the Grand Slam tournaments Rosewall defied his years to play in Wimbledon finals 20 years apart, and win Australian titles 19 years apart, French 15 years apart and US titles 14 years apart.

Profile: Ken Rosewall, Rod Laver

Aussies at Roland Garros – the complete list to date

1933 Jack Crawford becomes the first Australian to win the Roland Garros men’s singles title

1951 Ken McGregor plays a marathon semifinal against South African Eric Sturgess

1953 Ken Rosewall wins the men’s singles title 12 months after winning the Roland Garros boys’ championships

1958 Mervyn Rose wins the singles final while Ashley Cooper and Neale Fraser take the doubles

1960–1965 Roy Emerson features in six consecutive winning doubles duos

1962 Margaret Smith wins her first major on foreign soil

1962 Rod Laver wins the men’s singles title on his way to his first calendar year Grand Slam

1963–1965 Three in a row for mixed doubles pair Margaret Smith and Ken Fletcher

1964 Margaret Smith sweeps Roland Garros

1965 Lesley Turner is singles and doubles champion

1965–1969 Stolle, Roche, Emerson, Rosewall and Laver headline five years of dominance

1968 Ken Rosewall wins singles and doubles at the age of 33