‘Novak Djokovic is always in shadows of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal but finally getting credit’

Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer

Greg Rusedski has asserted that Novak Djokovic is “finally getting all the credit he deserves” as he has always been in the shadows of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The former world No 4 lauded the Serbian legend as “the most professional” player and thinks his ability to stay healthy is an underrated skill.

Djokovic defeated third-ranked Daniil Medvedev 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-3 in the final of the 2023 US Open earlier this month to claim a fourth crown at the New York major. The world No 1 has now won a men’s record 24 Grand Slam titles.

The 36-year-old secured three of the four major tournaments this year, while also losing a thrilling Wimbledon final in five sets to Carlos Alcaraz. This is the fourth season of his career where he has won three Grand Slam titles – a men’s record.

Five days after his US Open championship match, Djokovic returned to the court to down Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in straight sets in the Davis Cup group stage last week. He helped Serbia progress to the knockout stage of the team competition, where they will face Great Britain in the quarter-finals.

Speaking on an episode of the Tennis Channel Inside-In podcast, Rusedski hailed Djokovic’s dedication to maintain his body and his motivation to remain at the top.

“I think he’s the most professional. Even we heard Rafa talking about it, he was saying, ‘Look I had so many injuries throughout, Novak’s always been healthy, he’s the guy who has always gotten through physically’, and that in itself is a skill,” said the US Open runner-up.

“People don’t look at recovery, health, consistency, all those things. To have that motivation and drive at 36 years old is incredible. I mean I was brain dead by the time I was 36, just playing some social tennis and some champions tennis on the senior tour.

“So, for him to do this at this high level and still be the best player on the planet is exceptional. Let’s enjoy it because this is a very rare thing to see in sport.

“And I think he is finally getting all the credit he deserves because he’s always under the shadows of Federer and Nadal with the love and the admiration. Now he’s really [getting] what he deserves from what he’s accomplishing.”

The 15-time ATP titlist also argued that Djokovic’s epic three-set win over Carlos Alcaraz in the Cincinnati final was crucial to his subsequent US Open victory.

“He was struggling with heat stroke in that match. It was brutally hot in Cincinnati. He knows how to manage those situations. Took a little bit more time, had the trainer come out, won that second set and then all of a sudden he pushes into the final set and he raises his game,” continued the British-Canadian.

“Carlos got frustrated, a little bit angry out there. And Novak just knew how to handle the bigger situations better. For me that was the defining match which got him to win the US Open. Had he lost that match, we might not be talking about three Slams and only one loss [this year].”

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