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Novak Djokovic reacts to Roger Federer's Australian Open win

Djokovic is currently representing Serbia in the Davis Cup tie against Russia.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - JANUARY 19:  Novak Djokovic of Serbia talks to the media at a press conference following his second round loss to Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan on day four of the 2017 Australian Open at Melbourne Park on January 19, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Djokovic is currently representing Serbia in the Davis Cup finals against Russia

What’s the story? 

Former World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, ahead of Serbia’s Davis Cup final against Russia, has spoken about Roger Federer’s win at the Australian Open last week, describing it as “expected.”

In case you didn’t know...

Well, it’s likely you did, but last week, Roger Federer won his 18th major, defeating Rafael Nadal in the finals of the Australian Open. Djokovic himself suffered a shock loss to Uzbek player Denis Istomin in Round 2 of the tournament. The defending champion, who won the title in 2016, has struggled with form and consistency since last year, having dropped to World No. 2 after a loss at the ATP World Tour Finals to current World No. 1 Andy Murray. 

The Serbian champion was looking to return to his previous form following a slump in 2016, but has so far been unable to replicate his results. Djokovic struggled with injury last year, but was said to be more significantly affected by unspecified personal issues, which he admitted had been seriously affecting his play.

Djokovic is also a regular fixture on his country’s Davis Cup team, and won the title with them in 2010. 

The team are in the Serbian city of Nis to play the tie against Russia, and Djokovic expressed his happiness at rejoining the side.  'I am overjoyed to be back among these guys as we are all close friends and it’s a very special atmosphere every time we get together.”

2017 was a year of professional upheaval for Djokovic in many ways; the Serbian ace also parted ways with his coach, former No. 1 Boris Becker. Together, the two added 6 Majors to Djokovic’s tally, and shared a warm relationship on and off the court. 

Now, Djokovic is said to be working with, in addition to his core team, Serbian ace Nenad Zimonjic, who had a stellar run in the doubles. Zimonjic, a longtime friend of Djokovic, will captain Serbia in the tie. “I want to thank Nenad for taking on a dual role and I hope that we will enjoy lots of success under him,” Djokovic said. 

Zimonjic, in turn, defended Djokovic’s losses. “People tend to forget,” he said, “that favourites used to crash out of major events in the early stages quite regularly before Federer and Nadal, followed by Djokovic and Murray, took centrestage.”

“We must also remember that Novak plays for his country more regularly than any of his biggest rivals and he deserved the credit and fan support for the selfless commitment to his country. He has done Serbia proud with all his accomplishments.”

The heart of the matter

In awe of his longtime rival Federer, Djokovic said he was “.... not surprised that Federer won the title because you can always expect him to play at the highest level when he is fit.”

Drawing attention to Federer’s 6 month break following injury struggles after Wimbledon last year, Djokovic said, adding, “he was side-lined by injury for six months but having entered the tournament fresh and fit, he played outstanding tennis and I can only congratulate him.”

Like many tennis players – and spectators, the 12-time Grand Slam winner is also a fan of the iconic Federer-Nadal rivalry. “The final between him and Nadal was the one of sport's hallmarks of the year, going beyond tennis itself, as it’s been one of the greatest rivalries of all time. Nadal, too, played very well and they both showed why they are great champions on and off the court. It was a massive boost for tennis any way you look at it.”

What’s next? 

Djokovic will make a full return to the ATP World Tour, not having declared a hiatus or any major injuries. Given his dominance in the seasons preceding 2016, and through half of last year, Djokovic built up a significant dominance and lead in the points. 

Despite his shock upsets, we think Djokovic should be able to bounce back and recuperate in the season ahead. Could he return to World No. 1? It will be difficult for him through to the clay court season, but there is no reason he cannot afterwards.

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