Former world number 1 Justin Henin acknowledged that Novak Djokovic has accomplished “extraordinary” things, but noted that he likely won’t be the hero or idol of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.
Djokovic, 34, started the season with 17 Grand Slam titles, while Federer and Nadal tied with 20 major titles each. Eight months later, Djokovic has 20 Grand Slam titles and aims to win 21 major titles.
In addition, Djokovic broke the all-time record for most weeks spent at number one in the world. “It is the eternal battle to compare times and compare what Rafa did at Roland Garros with Roger’s career or his Wimbledon titles,” Eurosport quoted Henin as saying.
“Like it or not, Novak Djokovic is in the shadows a little bit and will probably never be the champion or idol like Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. But what he has achieved in an era when tennis was at a really exceptional level, especially physically, schedules are becoming more demanding than in the past, It’s unbelievable.”
Henin noted that the past year and a half has been difficult for everyone and seemed to give Djokovic credit for what he has done this season.
“You can’t forget about the COVID-19 period. For a lot of players you have to be strong in your head right now. I think you really have to be very, very strong.
“I don’t know how I was able to try things,” Henin added.
Roger Federer and his opponents:
Federer faced opponents from different eras in tennis. Earlier this week, Roger Federer appeared in a virtual event with wheelchair players Shingo Konida and Gordon Reed.
During the event, the 40-year-old spoke about how Navratilova’s idea of playing the net changed the way players played the game, saying: “At that time too, if you look at women’s football or the men’s match.
If you look at how Vilas and Borg exchanged, it was really back and forth. Or Chrissy Evert too, a lot back and forth. Then someone like Navratilova comes along, and the others, who are always rushing to the net, and then the other players realize: “Oh, that works too.”
“The Swiss star mentioned this example to show how others follow the idea, which in the end will change the rules of the game,” Federer said.
“And then the herd comes in and everyone tries. That’s when the game really changes. And then we’ll probably see that too, as we move forward.”
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