Tennis Prose



Is Federer unrealistic about Djokovic’s greatness?

Roger Federer has not beaten Novak Djokovic in a Grand Slam major since 2012 at Wimbledon. Since then Djokovic has won all six of their major meetings, including three Wimbledon finals in 2019, 2015 and 2014 and also the US Open final of 2015.

This weekend in Dubai, Federer made some interesting comments about his rivalry with Djokovic.

I enjoy playing against him. I really feel like we get the best out of each other. We have different playing styles. But as against most players it always depends a little bit on the day. On which court you are playing how have the matches been leading up to that match. How have the last matches with him been for that particular reason. But against the best players you know you have to bring your best game as well otherwise it will not be enough especially against somebody like Novak who can go into a mode where he is not just gonna miss and he is gonna defend very well and plays very aggressive when he has to and he has a very good balance. Thats why he is one of the greatest players ever. It’s been a pleasure to play against him, really. He is one of the players that also made me a better player. So, its great to have him in the game.

Djokovic leads the overall head to head vs Federer 27-23.

It does not seem as though Djokovic has made Federer a better player, it seems more like Djokovic has solved and conquered Federer and exceeded him.

Or could it be Federer feels he has played his greatest level of tennis against Djokovic even though he’s lost most of their duels and the last six times they competed against each other in majors?

Or could it be Federer’s way of trying to spin Djokovic’s mastery over him with clever word play, an intentional psychological warfare jab to send some kind of message for 2021?

Because the statistics and results show clearly that Novak Djokovic has become the superior tennis champion, a remarkable, incredible achievement considering the Serbian superstar had to overcome both Federer and Rafael Nadal to achieve what he has, 18 majors and the all time best 311 weeks (and counting) as ATP world no. 1.

To my knowledge, Joe Frazier never said Muhammad Ali made him a better boxer. (Ali won two of their three classic heavyweight showdowns.)

Maria Sharapova did not say Serena Williams made her a better player.

But it was Pete Sampras who often said Andre Agassi made him a better player.

Sampras lead the head to head series vs Agassi 20-14.

It’s hard to understand how Djokovic has made Federer a better player. The records illustrate to the contrary.

(Federer art by John Murawski.)



  • Facing Hewitt · March 9, 2021 at 7:57 am

    Djokovic is clearly better than Federer, he dominated Federer, Nadal, Murray and Wawrinka to win his 18 slams, while Federer won only a few slams against these players but dominated Roddick, Hewitt and Nalbandian.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 9, 2021 at 3:43 pm

    Fully agree Facing Hewitt. the only thing left is for Federer himself to concede and congratulate the new king.

  • Krzysztof · March 11, 2021 at 2:23 am

    Djokovic dominated Federer when he was after his prime, i.e.after 2013. During 2007-2012, when Federer was top level, especially in Grand Slams, Federer was with upper hand. That was the same case with Federer and Agassi.I think it is irrelevant to use such comparisons, as we would have to compare players of similar age, so there is more sense in comparing Nadal and Djokovic.

  • Scoop Malinowski · March 11, 2021 at 7:41 am

    Krzysztof, But Federer is now saying Djokovic made him a better player. Which I interpret as even though he’s lost the last nine years to Djokovic, he’s actually played better then than in the previous years when he was handling Djokovic.



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