Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic recently gave an interview on ESPN’s McEnroe’s Places, hosted by John McEnroe. The 24-time Grand Slam champion divulged how a valuable lesson he learned from Roger Federer shaped his career.
The rivalry between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer is one of the most iconic rivalries in the history of tennis. Before the rise of the Serb, Roger Federer was considered the undisputed king of tennis. Around the same time, Rafael Nadal was winning back-to-back tournaments but failed to offer much challenge to Federer outside of clay courts.
The Big Three rivalry
Novak Djokovic struggled to give much challenge to Nadal and Federer in the initial phase of his career. However, beginning in 2011, Novak Djokovic considerably improved his game and emerged as a third pole, disrupting the legacy of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
What followed next was an exhilarating three-way rivalry between the three, lasting almost a decade. While Nadal and Federer were known for their class acts on the court, Djokovic was goofy and played the crowd. The trio was given the nickname “The Big Three” by the media and fans.
Finals played against the other two members of the Big Three
Nadal, French Open: 7/14
Federer, Wimbledon: 6/12
Djokovic, Australian Open: 2/10
— The Big Three (@Big3Tennis) September 16, 2023
Since then, the three of them have held the No. 1 spot on the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings for a combined total of 901 weeks. Following his recent Grand Slam victory at the US Open, Novak Djokovic recently reclaimed the top spot. He has also held the No. 1 for the longest out of all other tennis stars, with a total of 390 weeks at the top spot.
Novak Djokovic reveals lesson from Roger Federer that helped his career
Novak Djokovic was the primary guest on episode 9 of McEnroe’s Places, which aired on September 6. The 36-year-old Serb talked about how the other two players of The Big Three, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal shaped his career, helping him become the tennis legend that he is now.
While talking about Roger Federer during the interview, Novak Djokovic said, “One thing that I learned from Federer is how to organize my schedule and to be able to peek at the grand signs. He was one of the first players to really take the scheduling preparation to a different level.” (via Tennis Tonic)
What Novak learnt from Roger. pic.twitter.com/8aLyX5ZY9H
— दिविर जैन (@divirj04) September 14, 2023
Djokovic also shared how he always had his eyes keenly set on Roger Federer during tournaments. He told McEnroe that he even went as far as taking notes about how the former Swiss No. 1 managed his schedule.
He further added, “I was inspired by that and I was making notes, and with my team and I was, I was taking a lot from that, from that scheduling and observing him and his team and how he has gone about it.”
This interview shows the beauty of sportsmanship in tennis. Most people would assume that tennis is an individualistic sport and thus, players would show a lack of camaraderie compared to team sports such as soccer. However, the friendship of Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer proves them wrong.