‘Damage Wasn’t Done in the Actual Fight’ – When Novak Djokovic Got a Brutal Reminder of Roger Federer’s Greatness With a Muhammad Ali Reference

Published 10/16/2022, 4:09 PM EDT

via Getty

The Swiss Maestro, Roger Federer, is one of those players who has represented the sport throughout his playing days. One of the greatest tennis players of all time retired from the sport last month at the Laver Cup. His absence from the tennis court gave his arch-rivals the opportunity to move ahead in the all-time major winners list. Novak Djokovic won one Grand Slam title this year while Rafael Nadal won two. However, there was a time when Djokovic was struggling to deal with his injuries.

It was the 2018 Australian Open and at that time, a former tennis player compared the Serbian tennis star’s body management and mentality to that of the Swiss Maestro by referencing Muhammad Ali. Federer was out of the ATP tour since last year’s Wimbledon. After his knee injury worsened and the signs of him fully recovering were very low, he chose to step away from the sport.


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Novak Djokovic reminded of the greatness Roger Federer

Back in 2018, the 20-time Grand Slam was having a great time on the court despite all his injury struggles. At that time, the former tennis player Wally Masur compared Federer’s skill to that of Muhammad Ali and considered one particular skill of his to be superior to that of his arch-rival Novak Djokovic.

via Reuters

Masur said, “He’s got some sort of perspective that a lot of tennis players don’t have.” The way the 20-time Grand Slam champion displays himself in public after a game is very important. At that time, the Serbian star had lost in the Australian Open while the former world number one was going strong. 


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Further, the former Australian tennis star went on to say that Muhammad Ali’s level of perfection is comparable to that of the Swiss Maestro. “And I think that culture of having another hit, another warm-up, another set, another session, it’s a bit like (Muhammad) Ali – maybe the damage wasn’t done in the actual fight but all the damage was done in all the build-up and all the sparring he was doing.”

The legendary boxer’s pattern of following up activities and his training is almost the same as Federer’s, according to Masur. They were very different from the rest of the clan and understood what their respective sport demands to be at the top.


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Djokovic and Federer Rivalry

Their rivalry is considered one of the biggest rivalries in the tennis world. They last competed against one another in 2020. At the Australian Open, they both faced off in the semifinals, with Djokovic triumphing in straight sets. 

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Notably, they both have played 50 matches against each other. The 21-time Grand Slam champion ended up with a lead in the head-to-head record, as he won 27 matches to Federer’s 23.

Do you think Federer boasts a legacy comparable to that of Muhammad Ali’s in boxing? Let us know in the comments.



Pratishtha Prakash

779 articles

Pratishtha Prakash is a Tennis writer at EssentiallySports. She has completed her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media and Journalism from MIT ADT University, Pune. In the past, she has interned at the sports desk of The Hitavada, a regional English daily newspaper.

Edited By: Tony Thomas