Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer - Wimbledon 2019

Roger Federer admits he ‘wasn’t fully convinced’ by Novak Djokovic after first meeting

Roger Federer has detailed his relationship with former rival Novak Djokovic, describing the Serbian as ‘misunderstood’. 

Federer is releasing a documentary this coming Friday, entitled ‘Federer:Twelve Final Days’, set to follow the final moments of his professional career that came to an end at the 2022 Laver Cup.

In this documentary, the former world No.1 goes into his rivalries with both Rafael Nadal and the aforementioned Djokovic, revealing why he thought fans did not always warm to the latter.

“I guess he was the party crasher of Rafa and Roger fans,” claimed Federer. “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’.”

Federer added, “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.”

Despite Djokovic not always being received with open arms, Federer defended the 24-time major winner, “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.”

Throughout their rivalry, Djokovic and Federer played each other 50 times, with their first meeting coming at the Monte Carlo Masters in 2006.

It was the Swiss who got the victory in that first meeting, with Federer revealing in his documentary that he didn’t foresee Djokovic’s future success at the time.

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

Federer’s insightful documentary about the final days of his career will be released on Amazon Prime Video in the United Kingdom on Friday 14th June.

Inside the baseline…

Some of the footage set to be used in this documentary was originally supposed to just be for Roger Federer as a memory, so it is incredible that it is going to be released for us all to see. It is also nice to hear Federer defend his former rival Novak Djokovic and admit that he was not always right about the Serbian, who is now leading the men’s Grand Slam race with 24 titles to his name.

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Roger Federer vs Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal

The ‘big three’ have dominated men’s tennis in the 21st century, winning 66 of the last 83 major singles tournaments.

However, the age old debate is always about who is really the greatest of all time, so we at Tennishead wanted to delve into the numbers:

Roger Federer

Career-high: No.1 (310 weeks)

ATP titles: 103

Grand Slam titles: 20

ATP Masters 1000 titles: 28

Olympic medals: 2 (Doubles Gold – 2008, Singles Silver – 2012)

ATP Finals titles: 6 (2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2010 & 2011)

Davis Cup titles: 1 (2014)

Novak Djokovic 

Career-high: No.1 (428 weeks)

ATP titles: 98

Grand Slam titles: 24

ATP Masters 1000 titles: 40

Olympic medals: 1 (Singles Bronze – 2008)

ATP Finals titles: 7 (2008, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2022 & 2023)

Davis Cup titles: 1 (2010)

Rafael Nadal 

Career-high: No.1 (209 weeks)

ATP titles: 92

Grand Slam titles: 22

ATP Masters 1000 titles: 36

Olympic medals: 2 (Singles Gold – 2008, Doubles Gold – 2016)

ATP Finals titles: 0 (Best result: Final – 2010 & 2013)

Davis Cup titles: 5 (2004, 2008, 2009, 2011 & 2019)


Roger Federer vs Novak Djokovic: 23-27

Roger Federer vs Rafael Nadal: 16-24

Novak Djokovic vs Rafael Nadal: 30-29

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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.