Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer may be two of the Big 3 in tennis, but they didn’t always have friendly relations off the court. Their evergreen rivalry was a constant point of discussion among fans and the media. Although Djokovic, like Rafa, perhaps got teary-eyed at the Swiss legend’s retirement from the sport, the Serb was not always a favorite of Federer. And the reason has to do with the Australian Open 2009.
A recent comment by Novak Djokovic revisits the equation he had with the top players in the world, especially Roger Federer. Maybe nothing has changed since then and the two GOATs of tennis feel the same way about each other that they did 15 years ago.
Novak Djokovic revisits what went wrong between him and Roger Federer
In the latest presser after his third round at the Australian Open 2024, Novak Djokovic shared how he was never liked by Roger Federer at the beginning of his career. The Serbinator may have won 24 Grand Slams but he also had a habit of retiring midway through them. “I know certainly Federer didn’t like the way I was behaving at the beginning. I think it didn’t sit with him well. I guess I wasn’t the favorite type of guy to some of the top guys because I was not afraid to say that I wanted to be the best player in the world.” This reminds one of an incident from 2009 where Federer fired an honest opinion about Federer after his match with Andy Roddick.
Feeling like he was unable to go on due to extreme Australian heat, Djokovic had yet again left the game, although he was defending his AO title that year. Federer had not taken kindly to it, “He’s not a guy who’s never given up before … it’s disappointing. I’m almost in favor of saying, you know what, if you’re not fit enough, just get out of here. If Novak were up two sets to love I don’t think he would have retired 4-0 down in the fourth. Thanks to Andy he retired in the end. Andy pushed him to the limits.”
The spirit of sports is all about pushing your body to the limit, to keep going especially when one is ready to give up. Clearly, Federer was glad that Djokovic bid out because it allowed Roddick to take a much-deserved victory. But he also showed his disappointment over how he did it.
While Djokovic has stressed that respect was something he never lacked as a principle, its meaning varies for everyone. In the twilight of his career now, Novak Djokovic is yet again defending his title to perhaps win his record-breaking 25th Grand Slam.