Roger Federer returned to grasscourt with aplomb as he defeated Ilya Ivashka 7-6(4), 7-5 at Halle on Monday. The Swiss spoke about Novak Djokovic’s French Open exploits and what it means in the Grand Slam race.
The Serb bagged his 19th Grand Slam title by winning the 2021 French Open where he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas in the finals. This was his 19th Grand Slam and now he is within touching distance to Federer and Rafael Nadal’s tally of 20.
A lot of people in the community already believe that the Serb will eventually overtake both the legends in terms of Grand Slams. Some even feel that he will end the GOAT debate forever by doing so. When asked regarding the same, Federer revealed how Grand Slam counts were never given that much importance when he first came on tour.
“It seems it’s all about Grand Slam titles nowadays and I don’t like that,” Roger Federer said. “When I came on the tour, it wasn’t just about the Slams. It was Pete Sampras who triggered this and suddenly said that now only the Slams would be of interest to him.”
“In the future, more players will win Grand Slam tournaments anyway,” he added. “The Slams have certainly given me a lot, and they offer tennis a big stage but after my 15th I didn’t really care whether I had 15, 16, 17 or 18. I just wanted to break Sampras’ record, everything else was a bonus. As long as we (three) play everything is possible, at the end, the accounting will be done.”
When asked about Djokovic’s wins over Nadal and Tsitsipas, the 39-year-old said that he had only seen some portions of both games.
Nevertheless, Federer was full of praise for the level of tennis that both Nadal and Djokovic showcased at the semifinals of the French Open. The match was described as one for ages by many from the tennis community.
“I saw some of it (Novak Djokovic vs Stefanos Tsitsipas), I didn’t watch the whole match but you know I also saw the same amount of the semis against Rafa, which was great tennis you know, unbelievable rallies from the baseline,” Federer said.
Lastly, he hailed the current World No. 1 for his exceptional win where he was simply down and out against Tsitsipas.
“Great win by Novak to get over the line there, two tough matches you know, and a couple of weeks as well from Belgrade before, don’t forget he played there. So that was an incredible victory for him,” Federer concluded.