‘I was surprised by him’ – Roger Federer gives his verdict on rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal

Roger Federer says the Laver Cup has given him a tremendous opportunity – and honour – to study how his top rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic approach tennis.

The Laver Cup is Federer’s brain-child and is essentially tennis’ answer to golf’s Ryder Cup, with a team of Europe’s best players pitted against a team from the rest of the world.

That means that Federer has had the opportunity to team with both Nadal and Djokovic, and he admits both have surprised him.

Roger Federer on Rafael Nadal

“For me it was emotional to spend a week around Nadal and Djokovic.

“You spend a week with Rafa and you look at his intensity. How can he find a balance? Because otherwise you get crazy.

“When his training session ends, he is relaxed. I was surprised by how he always looks for chances.

“He returns from behind and forward, with slice and top spin.”

Roger Federer on Novak Djokovic

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic doubles

“Also Djokovic, he is relaxed. We are similar. In order to have success you have to be relaxed.

“We play so many matches – from 50 to 100. It’s not like boxing where you have one or two matches a year. Five minutes before the match, you have to relax.

“What I was surprised the most about Djokovic is his clarity when he wants to win a match. He is like, ‘this is how I play, so I will have success’.

“Also his process: how and when to eat. Everything needs to be right. I respect it so much.”

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