Djokovic pays tribute to retired rival Federer
The Serbian said the Swiss player set the tone for excellence in tennis
Tennis great Novak Djokovic joined Rafael Nadal in lauding their retired generational rival, Roger Federer.
Putting an end to speculation that he would launch an autumn comeback, 41-year-old Federer announced via a lengthy statement on Thursday that he will step away from the sport in a professional capacity after the Laver Cup in London next week.
While the likes of Nadal and Serena Williams rushed to pay tribute to the Swiss legend, Djokovic had been quiet on the matter until taking to Instagram to address the bombshell development on Friday.
“Roger, it’s hard to see this day and put into words all that we’ve shared in this sport together,” Djokovic began in the caption for a set of nine photos of the two together.
“Over a decade of incredible moments and battles to think back on. Your career has set the tone for what it means to achieve excellence and lead with integrity and poise.
“It’s an honor to know you on and off court, and for many years to come. I know that this new chapter will hold amazing things for you, Mirka, the kids, all your loved ones, and Roger fans still have a lot to look forward to,” Djokovic said.
“From our family to yours, we wish you much joy, health, and prosperity in the future. Looking forward to celebrating your achievements and seeing you in London,” he added, before tagging Federer.
As implied, Djokovic will join Federer at the Laver Cup from September 23-25 when they play on the same team for the first time.
Nadal will also be present, with the ‘Big Three’ currently tennis’ most successful players of all time in terms of Grand Slam wins.
While Federer once led the pack with 20 triumphs, he has since been overtaken by Nadal, who pulled ahead by two this year with wins at the Australian and US Opens.
Djokovic improved his tally to 21 by claiming the Wimbledon men’s singles title for the seventh time this summer, and threatens Federer’s record of eight at the oldest tennis tournament in the world.
Yet the relationship among the trio remains cordial despite their great rivalry, which has enthralled tennis fans.
Lamenting Federer’s news, Nadal said Thursday was sad for him personally, and “for sports around the world.”
“It’s been a pleasure but also an honor and privilege to share all these years with you, living so many amazing moments on and off the court.
“We will have many more moments to share together in the future, there are still lots of things to do together, we know that,” Nadal said.