Roman Safiullin issues ultimate praise on Novak Djokovic

Safiullin and Djokovic met for the first and lone time in the 2022 Tel Aviv semifinal.

by Dzevad Mesic
Roman Safiullin issues ultimate praise on Novak Djokovic
© Getty Images Sport - Dean Mouhtaropoulos

Roman Safiullin has declared Novak Djokovic "the most difficult opponent" he has ever faced. Safiullin, who is currently enjoying a career-high ranking of No 39 in the world, met Djokovic at the Tel Aviv Open last year. Safiullin put up a big fight against Djokovic in their first meeting - especially in the second set - but the Serb still ended up winning their Tel Aviv semifinal match in straight sets 6-1 7-6 (3).

"Who is the most difficult opponent for you?" a fan asked Safiullin during a Q&A session hosted by the Russian on Instagram. Safiullin answered the question by posting a photo taken of him and Djokovic at the net following their Tel Aviv match.

Novak Djokovic and Roman Safiullin© Roman Safiullin - Instagram

Another fan asked Safiullin: "The most memorable moment on the Tour?" Safiullin posted a photo of him and Carlos Alcaraz and wrote: "This match." Two weeks ago, Safiullin stunned Alcaraz as a qualifier 6-3 6-4 in the Paris Masters second round.

Roman Safiullin and Carlos Alcaraz© Roman Safiullin - Instagram

What Djokovic said about Safiullin's game after their Tel Aviv match?

In the 2022 Tel Aviv semifinal, Djokovic dominantly won the opener with a 6-1 set scoreline.

But Safiullin refused to quit as the Russian raised his game massively in the second set. Djokovic, who was getting frustrated at times in the second set, was still able to win the second set via a tie-break and afterward admitted that Safiullin wasn't an easy opponent to handle.

“I think it was a very competitive match, especially in the second set. I must say I was quite emotional on the court today in the second set, there was a lot of tension, and that was also due to his aggressive style of tennis.

Big serves, and when he has time, he’s so solid from the forehand and backhand corner. I knew that I had to stay very strong, and that he was definitely going to raise his level in the second set, which happened. I was serving for the match and played a couple of loose points, but credit to him for fighting back. It was an enjoyable evening on the court, for sure," Djokovic said after beating Safiullin in Tel Aviv.

Roman Safiullin Novak Djokovic