June 11, 2024

In a recent interview, Roger Federer talked candidly about his early thoughts on Novak Djokovic, acknowledging that at the time, he did not treat the Serb with the deference he deserved. The Swiss legend explained his previous remark by pointing out that when they first met, Djokovic was a very different player from the “unbelievable” player he is today.


Having competed 50 times on the ATP Tour, Djokovic and Federer enjoy one of the strongest rivalries in contemporary tennis. The former has won six of their last seven games and leads the head-to-head 27–23.


They faced off in the Monte-Carlo Masters Round of 64 in 2006, which was their very first meeting. Djokovic had to earn a spot in the main draw, but the Swiss was the top player in the world at the moment. It’s interesting to note that he continued to represent Serbia and Montenegro at the competition—a nation that was dissolved that same year when Montenegro seceded.


Even though Djokovic’s reputation was obviously not matched before the match, he forced the 20-time Grand Slam champion to three sets before falling 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.In behind-the-scenes video from his upcoming book “Roger: Twelve Final Days,” Federer recalled that particular match and said he left the court feeling that Djokovic was just “OK.” He underlined that he wasn’t entirely convinced by the buzz surrounding him and that the now 37-year-old’s backhand was not as fluid as it was these days.


The former World No. 1 also acknowledged that Novak Djokovic had improved to become a “monster” of a player by removing all of his previous shortcomings.


“When I faced him for the first time in Monaco [Federer won 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 in 2006], I thought, ‘Yeah, he’s OK,'” Federer recalled.


“Despite the hoopla around him, I wasn’t entirely persuaded.” Because of his technical shortcomings, I believe I didn’t treat Novak with the deference he deserved. I thought Novak’s forehand grip was quite tight, and his backhand wasn’t as smooth as it is now. However, he later worked those issues out really well and became into an incredible player,” the speaker continued.



The legendary Swiss player defeated Rafael Nadal in the summit match of the 2006 Monte-Carlo Masters after defeating Novak Djokovic.


“In the beginning, Roger Federer didn’t appreciate the way I was acting.” — Novak Djokovic


During the Australian Open in 2024, Novak Djokovic discussed his relationship with Roger Federer at a news conference, acknowledging that the Swiss player did not enjoy his early behaviour.

The World No. 3 thought many of the best players at the time felt the same way, disliking the way he went around arrogantly declaring that he had what it takes to be the greatest player in the world.

“I am positive that Federer wasn’t pleased with my early behaviour. I believe it didn’t sit well with him. Regarding the others, I’m not sure.”


“I suppose that because I wasn’t hesitant to declare my desire to be the greatest player in the world, I wasn’t the preferred guy among some of the finest players. He went on, “I felt like I had the game to back up my kind of—not sort of—confidence.”


But in the years that have passed, it seems as though the two have made up, with Federer frequently professing his love for the 24-time Grand Slam champion.

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