'I Didn't Give Djokovic The Respect He Deserved': Federer Shocks With Honest Claim

'I Didn't Give Djokovic The Respect He Deserved': Federer Shocks With Honest Claim

by Nurein Ahmed

Roger Federer has made a shocking confession of his early impressions of former rival Novak Djokovic in his newest documentary, Federer: Twelve Final Days.

Federer and Djokovic are part of the most successful triumvirate in men's tennis, also known as the Big 3, winning 44 Grand Slams between them. The Swiss, with 20 majors, held the World No. 1 ranking for 310 weeks before the Serbian shattered that record and spent 428 weeks at the summit of the ATP rankings.

Djokovic, who has also won 24 Grand Slams in singles, has defeated Federer 27 times in the 50 matches they played against each other. Their rivalry is considered one of the most prolific in tennis because they regularly competed for top honors at the height of their powers.

Federer, who was the older statesman in their rivalry by five years, was already an established world-class athlete when Djokovic emerged as a formidable contender for Grand Slams almost two decades ago.

After their first meeting in Monte Carlo in 2006, Federer did not buy into the hype, having won the match in three sets. There was also a heated moment involving the Swiss and Djokovic's parents in the actual match.

The 42-year-old is quoted in his documentary as saying that he didn't give Djokovic "the respect he deserved" because of technical flaws in his game early on but was appreciative of the Serbian's determination to refine his shots to become the "monster" he is today.

"I played him in Monaco the very first time [Federer won 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 in 2006] and I walked off the court and thought, ‘Yeah, he’s OK. Even though there was some hype around him, I wasn’t really 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."


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