Novak Djokovic is once again among the favourites to win Wimbledon this year as he faces Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis in the second round. The Serbian star battled past Soonwoo Kwon in four tricky sets on Monday to get his campaign underway. Djokovic will also be wary of Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray, opponents he is used to facing on the biggest stage. Perhaps Djokovic’s biggest rival in the tennis world is Roger Federer.
Both players are level when it comes to Grand Slam Wins (20), and they have also clashed on numerous occasions in the past.
In 2006, Federer hit out at Djokovic suggesting he was faking injuries during a match.
The Swiss star said at the time: “You know I don’t trust his injuries … I mean I’m serious, and I think that he’s a joke when he comes down to these injuries.
“The rules are there to be used but not abused and that’s what he’s been doing many times.
“That’s why I wasn’t happy to see him doing that and then running around like a rabbit again. Yeah, it was a good handshake for me. I was happy to beat him.”
The comments came after a 2006 Davis Cup tie, and infuriated Djokovic’s father Srdjan.
Speaking in April 2021, Srdjan recalled how the incident had angered him.
He said: “About 15 years ago Federer attacked my son when he was still young, he was 18 or 19 years old.
“I knew someone would be there who would be better than him. So I said that [Federer] was a great champion, the best at the time.
“But as much as he is a great champion, Federer is not such a good man.”
Djokovic was asked about his father’s words – he said he “stands by him”.
He said: “I love him, he is a great support of mine.
“I can’t control what he says, everyone has a right to speak their mind, but I don’t always agree with everything he says.
“He is passionate and wants to protect me, of course I stand by him.”
In 2008, another incident occurred between Federer told Djokovic’s family.
Federer told the Djokovic group to “keep quiet” during a match at the Monte Carlo Masters.
Reflecting on the various clashes in 2012, Federer also referred to Djokovic’s actions in another match against Stan Wawrinka.
Federer said: “I was just upset at [Djokovic] calling the trainer out for no obvious reason against my buddy, Stan, in a five-setter.
“That was it. We had a quick chat about it in Madrid after that, and things are cool since a long time between me and him.
“I’ve always respected him. Have I gone out for dinner with him? No. But had many meetings with him at the [ATP Players] Council, and then now with the Grand Slams.
“He’s been nice to work with. We’ve met on several occasions because of other things together. I have no issues with him, and I hope you believe me.”
Federer and Djokovic won’t be able to add another chapter to their long rivalry at Wimbledon this year.
The Swiss star is unable to make the tournament having been plagued with injury issues of late.
Federer hasn’t played since his exit at last year’s Wimbledon – after that match he underwent surgery on his troublesome knee.
This kept him out of the US Open and this year’s Australian Open.
Djokovic has played in numerous finals against the likes of Federer, Nadal, and Murray.
It is for this reason that he “can’t be friends” with his fellow greats, he said in 2012.
At the time, Djokovic said: “So much of tennis is mental strength and I believe the Olympic win has brought Andy that.
“I think he will use it as a springboard to now go and win majors.
“I can’t be friends with Andy, though. I really like the guy — but how can you go and be best friends with a guy who you know you are going to be doing battle with?
“It is true for myself, Roger, Rafa and now Andy. We like each other and there is mutual respect but common sense tells you we can’t be best friends and hang out.”