Novak Djokovic: I owe it to Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal for pushing me

Shahida Jacobs
Novak Djokovic US Open victory

Novak Djokovic believes Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have “shaped him into the player he is today”.

The Serb won his 14th Grand Slam on Sunday when he beat Juan Martin del Potro in the US Open final, leaving him just six behind Federer’s all-time record of 20 and three adrift of Nadal in second place.

The three of them have dominated tennis over the last 15 years and Djokovic admits it was initially tough being part of the Nadal and Federer era, but he now believes they have pushed him onto another level.

“Maybe 10 years ago I would say I’m not so happy to be part of this era with Nadal and Federer,” he said. “Actually, today I am. I really am. I feel like these guys, rivalries with these guys, matches with Federer and Nadal, have made me the player I am, have shaped me into the player I am today.

“I have utmost respect for what they have achieved on the court, but also the champions, role models they are off the court. I think we have pushed each other to the limit every time we get to play each other. For me, that was always an ultimate challenge: to play Nadal or Federer anywhere.

“I think I had to figure out early in my career, when I was losing most of the big matches in Grand Slams against them, what it takes for me to improve and develop my game to be able to challenge them, to be able to start winning against them when it matters the most. I think that was one of the most important periods of my life, my tennis career, my development. I owe it to them.”

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