Federer Djokovic Wimbledon mens singles final 2019

Novak Djokovic claims Roger Federer ‘didn’t like the way’ he behaved

Novak Djokovic has revealed that he doesn’t think Roger Federer was a fan of himself in the early stages of his career, suggesting that ‘the top guys’ didn’t like his ambitious and confident nature. 

Djokovic continued his bid for a 25th Grand Slam title yesterday, beating 30th seed Tomas Martin Etcheverry on Rod Laver Arena to reach the fourth round of the Australian Open once again.

In his press conference after the match, Djokovic was asked if any players were critical of him when he first arrived on the tour, to which he responded, “That’s a good question. I mean, 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 don’t know about the others.”

The world No.1 continued, “I guess I wasn’t the favourite type of guy to some of the top guys because I was not afraid to say that I want to be the best player in the world. I was kind of – not kind of – I was confident, and I felt like I have the game to back it up.

“I never, ever lacked respect. Whenever I start a match, before the match or finish the match, I would always greet the opponent, always acknowledge. Respect is something that I was taught that needs to be present regardless of what is happening.”

And there is some evidence to suggest that Federer was not always impressed with Djokovic’s antics, with the Swiss making this comment during a Davis Cup tie back in 2006, “I don’t trust his [Djokovic’s] injuries. I’m serious. I think he’s a joke, you know, when it comes down to his injuries.”

Djokovic went onto suggest that these critiques have helped spur him onto further success, “It was fuelling me even more. I mean, if I made a mistake, I would admit it and, of course, say I make a mistake, I raise my hand, I apologise or whatever. But if the criticism came with no particular reason I think, then I would just keep going the kind of direction that I chose, and that’s it

“I knew and I know today that you can’t have everyone liking you, who you are, how you play, how you behave, what you talk about. It’s normal. We’re all different. We are all different preferences.”

Djokovic will need no extra motivation tomorrow, when he plays Adrian Mannarino for a place in the 14th Australian Open quarter-final of his career.

Inside the baseline…

Novak Djokovic has had plenty of critics over the years, some justified and others significantly less justified. It is important that he can acknowledge that his behaviour was not always appreciated by some of his peers, as he now sits as one of the senior plays on the tennis circuit and a role model to many other upcoming players.

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Matthew Johns, Tennishead Writer, is a professional tennis journalist with a specialist degree in Sports Journalism. He's a keen tennis player having represented his local club and University plus he's also a qualified tennis coach. Matthew has a deep knowledge of tennis especially the ATP Tour and thrives on breaking big tennis news stories for Tennishead.