Roger Federer: ‘This is when the game is truly changing’

Former World No. 1 Justine Henin has acknowledged that Novak Djokovic has accomplished some “exceptional” things, but noted that he will probably never be the hero or idol that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are. The 34-year-old Djokovic started the season with 17 Grand Slam titles, while Federer and Nadal were tied for 20 Majors each. Eight months later, Djokovic has 20 Grand Slam titles and is aiming to win a record 21 Major. Additionally, Djokovic broke the all-time record for most weeks he spent as World No. 1. “It is the eternal battle of comparing times and comparing what Rafa did at the French Open with Roger’s career or his titles at Wimbledon,” Henin told Eurosport as cited in Tennishead. “Like it or not, Novak Djokovic remains a bit in the shadows and will probably never really be the hero or idol that Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are. But what he is achieving in an era where tennis is at a truly exceptional level, and particularly physically, the schedules are much more demanding than in the past, it is incredible.” Henin stressed that the last year and a half has been difficult for everyone and she seemed to give Djokovic credit for what he has done this season. “We must not forget the COVID-19 period. For many players, you have to be very strong in your head right now. I think you really have to be very, very strong. I don’t know how I could have experienced things,” Henin added.

Federer faced opponents from different eras of tennis

Earlier this week, Roger Federer appeared in a virtual event along with wheelchair players Shingo Kunieda and Gordon Reid. During the event, the 40-year-old detailed how Navratilova’s idea of playing at the net changed the way players played the game. He said, “Back in the day also, if you look at the women’s game, or the men’s game. If you look how Vilas and Borg had rallies, it was very much like back-and-forth, back-and-forth. Or Chrissie Evert also, very much back-and-forth. And then, somebody like Navratilova comes in, and others, who always net rush, and then other players realise, ‘Oh, this also works.’” The Swiss star mentioned this example to portray how others follow the idea, which ultimately changes the game. “It only takes one person to give that idea to others, and then more and more do it,” said Federer. “And then you have the herd coming in and everyone trying it. This is when the game is truly changing. And then we’ll see that probably also, moving forward.”