Novak Djokovic could end his career as the most successful tennis player of all-time surpassing even Roger Federer who for a good part of the last two decades has held that pedestal in the eyes of many tennis fans.
Despite dominating tennis in the last decade that has seen him take his Grand Slam tally to 17, the Serb has regularly felt he doesn’t get the respect that the Swiss enjoys.
However, fellow tennis stars feel Djokovic would need to earn that image that Federer has developed over the years.
“Over the years, whether it is because of being the fan favourite or something else, Roger Federer has created this persona,” tennis player Noah Rubin said on the Tennis Major podcast Match Point.
“There are some mistakes that Djokovic has made. Federer has as well but at different levels. I think at this point, they are on different pedestals. I do think that Djokovic has to fight what the media is saying but Federer has built this from the ground up, he has worked very hard,” he added.
“Federer was a racket-throwing 18-year-old that turned into this perfect persona, that despite making a few mistakes, has upheld those high standards,” he continued.
Djokovic received heavy criticism recently for the organisation of the Adria Tour during the Covid-19 pandemic. Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric, Viktor Troicki and Djokovic himself tested positive for Covid-19 after the tournament.
The Serb though claimed that the criticism had turned into ‘witch-hunt’.
Read: Questions facing Djokovic and tennis: What next after ill-fated Adria Tour, positive Covid-19 tests?
Former Wimbledon champions Marion Bartoli though played down claims that Federer was given an easy ride by the media while Djokovic was portrayed as a villain.
“I don’t think we protect Roger every single time,” Bartoli said on the Tennis Major podcast Match Point
“He has been able to build this image of the perfect person. Knowing him, he is not far from it but he has made mistakes. Recently [for example] he was photographed with somebody without a mask in pictures that came up online,” he added.
“I don’t think the treatment is that different for Novak and Roger, and Djokovic will learn from what he has done and the consequences. He will probably try to build a better persona, but to say Roger can do anything and nobody will touch him is taking it too far,” she continued.
Federer is set to miss out on the 2020 tennis season after undergoing a knee operation. Djokovic is expected to play at US Open that is scheduled to begin on August 31 although reports of him being undecided on doing so continue to float around.