Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have shared one of the biggest rivalries of tennis in the history of the sport. Both the players have won 20 Grand Slam titles with Djokovic leading the Swiss Maestro by 1 more major as he won his 21st Grand Slam title at the 2022 Wimbledon Championships. While Federer dominated the rivalry for the initial time, Djokovic eventually took the lead and now has 27 wins from the 50 matches against Federer who has 23 wins against the Serb.
With Federer being the Tour leader at the time when Novak burst on the Tour, the Swiss Maestro’s dominance was threatened once again with Rafael Nadal already causing difficulties for Federer. With Andy Murray emerging, the Big-4 was formed as the quartet heavily dominated the Tour and all Grand Slam events during the start of the 2010s which often saw players engaged in high-intensity matches.
“To lose against someone like that, it’s very disappointing”: Roger Federer on the loss to Novak Djokovic
During the semi-finals of the 2011 US Open, Djokovic and Federer were meeting with the Serb being the top seed and Federer the third seed. Djokovic eventually won the match 6-7(9), 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 in 3 hours and 51 minutes saving two match points during the clash in which he had to come from 2-sets down against the 5-time US Open champion.
However, during the clash, Federer was having 2 match points at 40-15 in the fifth set and could have well closed the match and entered the finals but the Serb defended well to break Roger’s serve and eventually win the set. During one of the match points defence, Djokovic played a gamble on a shot hitting a cross-court forehand off Roger’s first serve which saw Novak win the crucial point, something that had Federer upset a lot which he openly admitted during the press conference.
“It’s awkward having to explain this loss because I feel like I should be doing the other press conference. He is someone who believes much anymore in winning. To lose against someone like that, it’s very disappointing, because you feel like he was mentally out of it already. Just gets the lucky shot at the end, and off you go. I mean, please. Some players grow up and play like that – being down 5-2 in the third, and they all just start slapping shots. I never played that way.
“I believe hard work’s going to pay off, because early on maybe I didn’t always work at my hardest. For me, this is very hard to understand. How can you play a shot like that on match point? Maybe he’s been doing it for 20 years, so for him it was very normal. You’ve got to ask him. Today I clearly felt like I never should have lost.
“Where in Wimbledon [against Tsonga] it was – I don’t want to say it was more out of my control – but it’s reaction tennis on grass. I was never up a break in the third, fourth, or fifth at Wimbledon, which today I was. I was one serve away, really. I get over these losses quickly. Wimbledon didn’t get me down,” said Federer quite upset after his defeat to Novak.
To add salt to the wounds, Djokovic would go on to win the Grand Slam a couple of days later against Nadal in 4-sets to win his first-ever US Open title and his fourth Grand Slam title while finishing the season with 3 Grand Slam titles with only the French Open evading the Serb as he lost in the semi-finals to eventual champion Nadal.