‘I knew Roger Federer didn’t like to play against me’, says former ace

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic dominated the men’s circuit for a decade and a half, completely rewriting the record book. The Spaniard is ahead of everyone in the all-time Grand Slam standings, thanks to his extraordinary triumph at the Australian Open 2022. The 35-year-old from Manacor will try to stretch further at Roland Garros, where he will go hunting for his 14th seal. Rafa will have to deal with Djokovic, who intends to defend the title he won last year. After coming close to the ‘Calendar Grand Slam’ in 2021, the Serbian star has encountered a lot of difficulties at the start of the season. Due to his choice not to get vaccinated against Coronavirus, the 34-year-old from Belgrade was unable to defend his title in Australia and suffered serious damage to his image. The speech relating to Federer is different, struggling with rehabilitation after yet another operation on his right knee. The 40-year-old Swiss should return in late summer or early autumn, perhaps for the Laver Cup. Guest in the latest edition of ‘ATP Tennis Radio’, David Nalbandian explained how complicated it was to play in the same era as the Big 3.

Nalbandian reflects on Roger Federer

“Beating all three guys (in the same tournament), didn’t happen before, didn’t happen until now. Was incredible week. I was honestly playing very good last few months before arriving here. Didn’t get lot of results. Here I struggled in the first few rounds. I saved match points, I think, second or third round. And after that everything was going unreal. I played incredible incredible tennis.” Nalbandian added that familiarity with Roger Federer’s playing style, having played with him in the juniors, helped him a lot in his career, adding: “I always think I can beat Federer because we play juniors all the time. So everytime I went on court, I knew I (would have) a lot of chances. I knew he didn’t like to play against me as well. Both know it’s going to be a very tough match. Both know whoever’s going to play better will win. I don’t respect Roger Federer like everybody else because we played from juniors. We don’t have that respect for each other. And that’s a huge advantage for me.” Speaking about his victory against Nadal in the Madrid quarterfinals in 2007, Nalbandian said that the faster conditions suited him more than his opponent, saying: “I knew against Rafa, if I had the chance to beat him, it was here..indoors, fast, indoors, altitude. The conditions were much better for me than for him, for sure. That year, he didn’t play a lot last few weeks (coming into the tournanemnt); he was a little bit out of rhythm. I think I didn’t miss a ball.”