Amid all the talk around the great rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal ahead of the Swiss tennis legend’s final match in his career at the Laver Cup, his rivalry against Novak Djokovic did not get enough mention. In fact, the pair faced each other 50 times on the ATP tour, 10 more Fedal meetings. And the most memorable battle between the two greats of the game was in the final of 2019 Wimbledon where Djokovic had saved championship points to down Federer in an epic five-setter tie at the SW19. Ahead of Federer’s final match, Djokovic recalled the match before the two shared an epic banter in the press conference.
The topic came forth after one of the reporters asked Djokovic to pick the battles against Federer that came to his mind first. And here is how the discussion unfolded…
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Djokovic: Well, I’ll pick my first Grand Slam finals, US Open 2007. I lost that match.
Federer: He’s being nice now (laughter). Thank you, Novak.
Djokovic: I haven’t finished. (Laughter.)
Federer: We are going to get to the other 20-plus matches. (Laughter.)
Djokovic: That was the first Grand Slam final obviously, was a remarkable experience for me at the time. Kind of the first match that allowed me to believe that I belonged to that level. 2019, sorry, Roger, finals of Wimbledon.
Federer: What happened? I’ve blocked it out. (Laughter.)
Djokovic however hailed his rivalry against both Federer and Nadal and credited it for the reason behind him being the player he is now.
“Of course it’s a huge privilege and honor to be on this team, and considering what I have personally gone through on the court with Roger over the years, at the beginning of my career I was losing most of the matches between Roger and Rafa in the Grand Slams, and they have contributed a lot to the player I am today to figuring out how I can turn the tables. So I’m very grateful to be part of that era,” Djokovic said.
“Of course we always wanted to win against each other,” Djokovic continued. “We always wanted to be better than each other. But as Rafa said, you know, on a personal level, of course it’s different. It’s a sad day for tennis but just sport in general. But, you know, Roger’s legacy will live forever. That’s for sure.”