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Rafael Nadal & Novak Djokovic are similar in their intensity but Roger Federer is more focused on change of pace: Marin Cilic

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer
Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer
Modified 25 Feb 2021

Marin Cilic recently spoke at length about Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, highlighting the similarities and the differences in their playing styles. Cilic claimed that Nadal and Djokovic play each point as if it was their last, whereas Federer gives more importance to dictating the pace of the match.

Marin Cilic is one of the very few players who can boast of having defeated all three of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. Having faced the Big 3 frequently over the last decade or so (38 times) has undoubtedly given Cilic a thorough understanding of their game.

During a recent conversation with Straits Times, Cilic pointed out that Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic have a similar in-game mentality.

"I would say for example, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are pretty similar in their intensity regarding they play every single point like it's a match point," Cilic said.

But Roger Federer lays more emphasis on playing an aggressive brand of tennis and trying to blow his opponents off the court, according to the Croat.

Roger Federer
Roger Federer

The 2014 US Open champion also opined that Roger Federer is a proactive mover on the court who, with his remarkable agility, can cover ground very effectively.

"Not saying that Roger Federer isn't (intense), but Roger is more focused on change of pace, change of speed," Cilic said. "He's having to rely a lot of his game - on a fast game, great serve, great forehand, you know, just mixing up the game and playing aggressive tennis and also playing fast. I will change the attribute fast to athletic, very athletic tennis in terms of stepping inside the court, coming to the net, being really really quick with his movements. His sharpness is incredible."

Cilic went on to claim that Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are more willing to play the waiting game before they gradually force you into submission. According to the Croat, you need to be mentally prepared to withstand a marathon clash against Nadal and Djokovic whenever you face them.

"And Novak and Rafa are the best guys in tennis that create pressure," Cilic remarked. "You're always feeling like they're pushing you and, and also depends on you how long you can resist, you know, if when you're playing Grand Slam matches against them, you need to be there for hours, five hours to be able to match them up."

At the end of their careers, it doesn't matter if Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer has the most Slams: Marin Cilic

Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic

With Novak Djokovic now just two Slams behind Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, many believe that the Serb - also the youngest of the three - will finish with the most Majors. And if such a situation does arise, many claim that Novak Djokovic will go down in history as the greatest of all time.

But for Marin Cilic, this particular statistic doesn't hold much importance except for the record books. The Croat opined that he has a more holistic understanding of the debate, explaining how success is defined differently for each individual.

"You know let's say at the end of their careers it doesn't matter Novak Djokovic, Rafa or Roger is having the most Grand Slams," Cilic said. "I think it's gonna matter in the history of books, who had the most of Grand Slams, but, you know, they're all individuals. And we all value our success differently. You know, for me, having one slam and having this great career I had, it's still incredibly good. And it's not easy to compare generations because it's been different tennis, different rivalries, you know, it's a lot of things different."
Published 25 Feb 2021, 22:56 IST
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