Novak Djokovic heaped rich praise on Roger Federer, saying the Swiss tennis star is one of the greatest sportsperson, let alone the greatest tennis player. Djokovic highlighted the lasting legacy of the 20-time Grand Slam champion, who is gearing up for his 'Last Dance' at the Laver Cup, starting September 23 in London.
Federer, who is one of the most-loved athletes on the planet, announced his retirement from professional tennis and said the Laver Cup would be his final competitive tennis match. The 41-year-old will partner with his fierce rival and friend, Rafael Nadal in his swansong - doubles match with Rafael Nadal for Team Europe in Laver Cup on Friday.
Federer, Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray, who are part of the famous Big 4 in men's tennis, are playing together in a tournament for the first time since the Australian Open in 2019.
Djokovic, who posted a heartfelt note after one his greatest rivals announced retirement earlier in September, lavished praise on the impact Federer has had on the sport.
"His impact on the game has been tremendous, the way he was playing, his style, effortless, just perfect for an eye of a tennis coach, player or just a tennis fan," Djokovic told reports in London ahead of Laver Cup.
"He has left a huge legacy that will live for a very long time."
Djokovic said Andy Murray and himself were not aware that Federer would hang up his boots after the Laver Cup and the excitement about the farewell match is going to add to the atmosphere at the O2 Arena in London.
"Both Andy and I didn't know that this is going to be his last match, his farewell this weekend, so that makes this occasion even greater because he's one of the greatest athletes ever to play sport, any sport," Djokovic added.
UNIQUE LAVER CUP EXPERIENCE
Despite the intense rivalry on the court, Federer, Djokovic, Nadal and Murray have always had mutual respect for each other. The Serb has beaten Federer in 4 major finals, including the 2019 Wimbledon which was the legendary Swiss star's final appearance in a Grand Slam final.
Djokovic said a tournament like Laver Cup gives him and the others the opportunity to spend time and know about each other -- something that is not possible while on the tour.
"It's great we will have a chance to spend some quality time off the court together," Djokovic said, as quoted by Eurosport.
"We have team dinners and will chat about tennis, sports, life. We don't normally do that on tour, we have our own teams and families, so this is quite unique."