Roger Federer Acknowledges His Lack Of Respect Towards Novak Djokovic

Classic Tennis Matches

In his upcoming documentary, Federer: Twelve Final Days, on Amazon Prime, Roger Federer acknowledged that he did not give Novak Djokovic the respect he deserved when he first emerged as a contender. Federer said:

“Even though there was some hype around him, I wasn’t fully convinced. I think I didn’t give Novak the respect he deserved because of his technical flaws. I felt like Novak had a very extreme forehand grip and his backhand for me wasn’t as fluid as it is nowadays. But then he ironed those things out super well and became an unbelievable monster of a player.”

Federer in his glory days was always quick to criticise or dislike the technique or game of other top players. After the epic Rome final against Rafael Nadal in 2006, Federer called Nadal’s game “one-dimensional.” The next day, back in Mallorca, Nadal said of Federer, “he has to learn to be a gentleman even when he loses.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion was a fierce competitor in his prime and had a bit of arrogance for sure, but he was also winning literally everything. It’s good of him to own up to what he criticised Djokovic for back then. Federer also said: “I think he’s been a little misunderstood. I look past the media and I see that at the end the man he is. If I take away his game, who is he? What are his values? I know he cares very deeply about his family.”

The Frosty Relationship between Djokovic and Federer in the Earlier Years

Roger Federer had a very contentious relationship with Novak Djokovic after a controversial Davis Cup match where Djokovic took an MTO right towards the end of the match against Stan Wawrinka in 2006. Federer after the match said: “I don’t trust his injuries. I’m serious. I think he’s a joke.”

There was the comment after Djokovic retired in his match against Andy Roddick at the Australian Open in 2009, again alluding to Djokovic’s propensity to retire quickly. Novak Djokovic said earlier this year at the Australian Open that Federer didn’t like the way he was behaving at the beginning. “I think it didn’t sit with him well,” said Djokovic. They didn’t like each other at all. Once Djokovic established himself in 2011, all that went away, though, but once upon a time it was arguably the frostiest relationship on tour.

It’s just nice to see all these beefs being settled as everyone moves on rather than there still being this weird tension between great players post-career. Ultimately despite some of the unease between them, I think all the Big 3 have always been way more respectful and generous to each other than a lot of major rivals in other sports have been. They’ve all set a great example through the years.

Main photo credit: Susan Mullane-USA TODAY Sports


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