Federer Hails Novak’s ‘Amazing Accomplishment’
Roger Federer fell in a championship match at the Western & Southern Open for the first time on Sunday, losing to former World No. 1 Novak Djokovic. But instead of looking at his own performance after the match, he was full of praise for Djokovic, who completed the Career Golden Masters.
“He's a great champion and this is what this should be about, this press conference, not about me missing second-serve returns. It's about him making history,” Federer said. “We can go into whatever points you want, but I think that's what the headline should be about. This is an amazing accomplishment, and I hope he's extremely proud and extremely happy about this moment.”
Federer knows just how difficult it is to win at this level, claiming 27 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles in his career. World No. 1 Rafael Nadal (33), Djokovic (31) and Federer (27) are the only players to capture more than 20 since the series was created in 1990. Djokovic is the first player to triumph at all nine Masters 1000 events.
“All these records that a player creates, at the end you're going to all judge it all together, bundle it up and say, ‘Okay, what was the coolest thing you ever did?'” Federer said. “This might be it for Novak besides winning all the Slams and all the other things he's done already.”
Every match at this level is tough. Case in point: all six of Djokovic’s opponents this week were inside the Top 33 of the ATP Rankings. Four of the five — Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic, Marin Cilic and Federer — have cracked the Top 3 in their career. Now imagine doing something similar at nine different events to collect a total haul of 31 trophies like Djokovic has.
“I think it's extremely difficult to win a Masters 1000. These tournaments don't come easy. You saw my performance today. It's just a long week. It's tough, grueling. The best players are playing. You play against tough guys early on in the draw, so you don't have much time to find your rhythm and actually almost work on your game throughout the week,” Federer said. “He's done that maybe better than anybody. So it's a great credit to him. I think it's an amazing accomplishment.”
It wasn't a bad week for Federer, either. He fell short on Sunday, but it was the World No. 2’s sixth final from eight tour-level events in 2018. The Swiss is now 33-5 on the season, and will set his sights on the US Open, which he has won five times.
“I’ve just got to come up with a lot of energy, and then hopefully I also have a chance after 10 years to do something special again at the Open,” Federer said. “I still think this US Open draw, as well, is going to be quite entertaining, and I can't wait for the US Open to come around.”
But for now, it’s Djokovic’s moment. Federer could sit and nitpick why he was only able to win 47 per cent of second-serve points, why he was broken three times after putting together a streak of 100 consecutive holds in Cincinnati, or why the Serbian was able to win 78 per cent of second-serve points. But he won’t.
“I don't even want to look for reasons why it happened. I just think it did,” Federer said. “Novak totally deserved to win today. This was not good enough. It's okay. Good week, but I'm happy it's over and I need to rest. So it's all good.”