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‘Misunderstood’ Novak Djokovic was the ‘party crasher of Rafa Nadal and Roger fans’ – Federer – Eurosport

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Roger Federer has explained why Novak Djokovic is “misunderstood” and described the record major title holder as the “party crasher of Rafa [Nadal] and Roger fans.”

Federer, Nadal and Djokovic’s battle to be recognised as the greatest and most decorated male tennis player of all time captivated fans for years.

Swiss player Federer was the first to win a Grand Slam in 2003, with Nadal following suit a couple of years later before Djokovic claimed his maiden major in 2008.

The Serbian went on to surpass both of his rivals by winning a record 24 Slams, to Nadal’s 22 and Federer’s 20.

However, Djokovic arguably didn’t receive the same level of widespread popularity of his two rivals, and Federer explained why he thinks that is in a new documentary.

“There was a lot of Rafa-Roger love there, so when Novak came probably a lot of people said, ‘Look, we don’t need a third guy. We’re happy with Roger and Rafa’.

“The Federer fans at the beginning didn’t really like him because they just thought, ‘Roger’s a bit more easy, he does it with ease’.

“Then Novak came in with his strong personality and that unbelievable grit of wanting to win at all costs. I think also Novak was triggered by the relationship with the fans. I think that deep focus maybe scared some people away.

“I think he’s been a little bit misunderstood. I look past the media and I see at the end the man he is. If I take away his game, who is he? What are his values? I know he cares very deeply about his family.”

Federer retired in 2018 with eight Wimbledon men’s singles titles to his name, more than any other player, along with six Australian Opens, five US Opens and one French Open.

Djokovic, who was forced to withdraw from the French Open this month through injury, looks set to miss Wimbledon this year as he recovers from surgery and will therefore be denied the chance to add to his seven SW19 titles and equal Federer’s record.

‘A massive loss for the tournament’ – Wilander and Henman assess Djokovic’s withdrawal

The Swiss recalled his first impressions of facing Djokovic, paying tribute to the improvement he achieved during his career.

“I played him in Monaco the very first time (in 2006) and I walked off the court and thought, ‘Yeah, he’s OK’, ” Federer said.

“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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