Why It Is Wrong To Compare Novak Djokovic To Federer
As soon as the date of Novak Djokovic’s press conference was confirmed the comparisons started. On July the 26th he announced the end of his season due to injury troubles. Coincidentally, it occurred on the same date as Roger Federer’s 2016 decision.
Since then, questions have arisen about if Djokovic is trying to emulate the Swiss player and if he will be able to managed to stage such as successful comeback as Federer did this year. It is understandable to compare the two considering they have been at the pinnacle of the sport for so long. Still, this understanding doesn’t make it correct to do so in the first place.
Troubled by a pain in recent months, Djokovic pulled the plug on his season due to an elbow injury. Dr Zdenko Milinkovic, who evaluated Djokovic’s injury, recently told Serbian media that he requires 6-12 weeks of rest because of ‘excessive playing.’
“It is the most important for me to recover, to be able to play injury free for as long as possible, to compete in the sport that has given me so much, the sport I love. Of course I want to return to the winning form, to win again, to win the trophies. But now it is not the time to talk about it. At this point, I’m focusing on recovery.” Djokovic said in a statement.
Djokovic’s route to his decision is a stark contrast to that of Federer. During what has been a testing year, he has struggled both mentally and physically at times. In May he took a radical decision by departing with his coaching team in order to revive his game after a series of below-par results on the tour. The objective was to find a ‘winning spark in his game.’
“I want to continue raising the level of my game and stamina and this is a continuous process. I enjoy this journey, it feels like I am starting something new again and I love this challenge. I am a hunter and my biggest goal is to find the winning spark on the court again,” he explained.
In Federer’s case, he needed time out to heal his body. On the other hand, Djokovic has more than his body to heal. Since lifting the French Open title last year, he has experienced periods where he has struggled to remain motivated and consistent on the tour. It could have been argued that he should have taken a break for the sport months ago. A scenario that affects a lot of players because of the demanding schedule in tennis.
At the start of the Wimbledon championships, Djokovic was asked what would he have told himself if he could go back in time. He never really answered the question as such. Instead, he explained why learning from his mistakes has made him better as a athlete and person.
“You learned your lessons, you’re wiser, you’re more experienced.” Djokovic stated.
“I think everything was happening for a reason on the tennis court, off the tennis court as well, to got me to the place where I am at the moment. I’m just very grateful overall to the life for that.” He added.
It is unclear what the future holds for Djokovic. He could follow in Federer’s footsteps and clinch the Australian Open title in January. On the other hand, he could experience a slow return to the tour with minimal success. Either way it is his own unique path that he is walking.
Djokovic is no Federer, but this isn’t a criticism. Every player has their own journey to follow and it is time to appreciate Djokovic’s instead of drawing parallels to others.